Chick-fil-A Bowl Preview
LSU (10-2) vs. Clemson (10-2)
December 31, 7:30 ET (ESPN)
What to expect with the (LSU) Tigers: Defense. Other than two disappointing losses to Florida and Alabama (which came by a combined 12 points), LSU finished with a terrific regular season and was once again one of the best teams in the country. The Tigers’ defense forced plenty of turnovers, was adamant against the run, and held opposing quarterbacks to a 103.1 passer efficiency.
However, it faces a Clemson offense that loves to score points and could prove to be its most difficult task thus far. Collapsing the pocket and forcing QB Tajh Boyd to throw on the run will be extremely important, all while stuffing Andre Ellington and the explosive run game. Both are vital to LSU’s success, especially with the offensive woes it has suffered year round – although that could play as a lesser factor against a poor Clemson defense.
What to expect with the (Clemson) Tigers: Clemson will attack LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger and attempt to plug the middle to stop a very aggressive ground game. Neither are easy, but this is what Clemson will have to do in order to win. We already know Boyd and Co. can light up the scoreboard, but doing so will be much more difficult against what may be the best defense it has seen in 2012.
I believe the number Dabo Swinney’s defense will be looking for is 24. If the Clemson front seven can apply enough pressure on the backfield, it could haunt the LSU offense and keep it under 24 points – which should be enough to win the game.
Synopsis: Although no one should ever underestimate the Clemson offense, I don’t think it’s going to have enough to put the LSU on its heels and outperform a heavy dose of Jeremy Hill and Kenny Hilliard.
Clemson’s defense has given up at least 27 points in six different games this season, including 49 to Florida State, 31 to Boston College, and 48 to North Carolina State. It has improved over the course of the season, but has not seen a backfield like LSU’s and will wear down quickly.
LSU 34, Clemson 24 --- via Bowl Predictions