CLEMSON TIGERS (10-2)
vs. LSU TIGERS (10-2)
Chick-fil-A Bowl - Atlanta, GA
Kickoff: Monday, 7:30 p.m. EDT
Line: LSU -6, Total: 59
Two teams with identical records -- and identical nicknames -- close out the 2012 calendar year when Clemson and LSU clash on New Year's Eve in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta.
A pair of 10-win teams with Tigers nicknames tries to amend for last yearís BCS bowl embarrassments when Clemson gave up 70 points to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl and LSU was shut out by Alabama in the BCS title game. Clemson ranks among the nationís top-10 in scoring offense (42.3 PPG, 6th) and total offense (518 YPG, 9th) thanks to QB Tajh Boyd (337 total YPG, 7th in FBS) and WR DeAndre Hopkins (101 rec. YPG, 9th in nation). LSUís defense is formidable though, allowing just 16.9 PPG (11th in FBS) and 296 YPG (8th in nation). In non-home games this year, Clemson was 5-0 ATS, while LSU was just 1-3 ATS.
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Clemson has already played in the Georgia Dome this season, when it topped Auburn 26-19. Boyd threw just one touchdown pass that day, but he has scored at least two total touchdowns in all 11 games since, totaling 43 scores this year (34 passing, 9 rushing). Boyd has thrown for 5 TD in three of the past five games. Despite his team's lopsided loss in last year's Orange Bowl, Boyd did have 282 yards of offense with 2 TD and 2 INT. WR Sammy Watkins has had an up-and-down year, but he's gained 506 yards through the air in his past five games. He forms quite an impressive WR duo with Hopkins, who has scored at least one touchdown in 11 of 12 games this year, totaling 16. Clemson doesn't shy away from running the football, as Andre Ellington has at least 13 carries in all but one game this season, rushing for 1,031 yards (5.1 YPC) and 8 TD. Clemson's defense has played well in spots this year, but its national rankings are mediocre -- 75th in total defense (411 YPG) and 48th in scoring defense (24.9 PPG). Senior LB Jonathan Willard leads the unit with 81 tackles (42 solo) and 9.5 Tackles For Loss this year.
LSU's offense has sputtered outside of Baton Rouge this year, scoring a mere 15.5 PPG in four road games. Junior QB Zach Mettenberger has not progressed as the team has hoped, throwing for just 2,489 yards (7.6 YPA), 11 TD and 6 INT this year. Freshman RB Jeremy Hill has come on strong though, with 560 rushing yards and 8 TD on 117 carries (4.8 YPC) in the past six games. A key for this game will be ball protection, as LSU has thrived off its +15 turnover margin (31 takeaways, 16 giveaways). Defensively, the team has done a great job both in stopping the run (102 YPG, 10th in FBS) and pass (194 YPG, 20th in FBS). The leader of this unit is LB Kevin Minter, whose 111 tackles, (13.5 TFL) helped him earn a second team All-American selection. LSU is 9-1 in the Georgia Dome and is also 5-0 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, winning the past two meetings by a combined score of 78 to 6.