College Football Picks Chick-Fil-A Bowl: #14 Clemson Tigers vs #8 LSU Tigers

2012 Chick-Fil-A Bowl
Monday, December 31, 2012, 7:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
#14 Clemson Tigers vs #8 LSU Tigers

Georgia Dome – Atlanta, Georgia
Opening Line: LSU -3 1/2
Current Line: LSU -6 (-115)
Opening Total: 58 1/2
Current Total: 59
Opening Money Line: LSU -205 / Clemson +175
Current Money Line: LSU -230 / Clemson +190

LSU is a 6 point favorite over Clemson in Monday’s Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta. Both teams are 10-2 this season.

The 10-2 LSU Tigers are #8 in the BCS standings as they take on the #14 Clemson Tigers who are also 10-2 in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta Monday night. This is the third meeting all time between LSU and Clemson. LSU leads the series 2-0. Both wins came in bowl games. LSU beat Clemson in the 1959 Sugar Bowl and in the 1996 Peach Bowl 10-7. The Peach Bowl later became the Chick-Fil-A Bowl as it is known now.

Clemson is 16-18 all-time in bowls. They have lost two straight bowl games including 70-33 in the Orange Bowl last year to West Virginia. LSU is 23-20-1 in bowl games. LSU lost the BCS Championship game last season to Alabama 21-0.

Clemson was 7-1 in the ACC under coach Dabo Swinney. Clemson has losses at Florida St 49-37 and at home against South Carolina 27-17 to close out the regular season. The Tigers have wins over Auburn in Atlanta 26-19, along with home wins over Ball St 52-27,  Furman 41-7, Georgia Tech 47-31, Virginia Tech 38-17, Maryland 45-10, and NC State 62-48. Clemson has road wins over Boston College 45-31, Wake Forest 42-13, and Duke 56-20. The Tigers are 8-4 ATS and the total is 6-5 this season.

Clemson is averaging 518.3 yards per game on offense, including 319.2 passing yards and 199.2 rushing yards per game. The Tigers are outscoring teams 42-25 this season. Clemson is in the top 13 nationally in total offense, passing, and points per game and #33 in rushing. The Tigers are +3 in turnovers with 19 giveaways. Clemson has allowed 26 sacks this season and average 43 penalty yards per game. The Tigers are 111/203 on third and fourth down conversions, and 49/52 scoring in the red zone with 39 touchdowns. On defense, Clemson is allowing 411.2 total yards including 250.3 passing yards and 160.9 rushing yards. The Tigers are 63rd or worse in all categories on defense, including #75 in total defense and #82 in rushing defense. The Tigers have forced 22 turnovers and 28 sacks. Clemson opponents are 77/216 on third and fourth down conversions and 26/32 scoring in the red zone with 19 touchdowns.

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd has completed 251 of 377 passes (66.6%) for 3,550 yards with 34 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, along with 157 carries, 492 yards and 9 touchdowns. Back-up Cole Stoudt has 3 touchdown passes and an interception. Running back Andre Ellington has 201 carries, 1,031 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 13 catches, 197 yards and a touchdown. Roderick McDowell has 76 carries, 425 yards and 5 touchdowns. D.J. Howard has 2 rushing touchdowns.

Receiver DeAndre Hopkins has 69 catches, 1,214 yards and 16 touchdowns. Brandon Ford has 31 catches, 411 yards and 8 touchdowns. Sammy Watkins has 57 catches, 708 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 13 carries, 100 yards and a touchdown. Martavis Bryant has only 10 catches but 4 touchdowns. He is suspended for the bowl game. Jaron Brown, Adam Humphries, Charone Peake and Sam Cooper will also get some catches. Four defensive backs are out for the Tigers.

LSU was 6-2 in the SEC under coach Les Miles. The only two losses came at Florida 14-6 and at home against Alabama 21-17. Both have only one loss and are in BCS games. LSU has home wins over North Texas 41-14, Washington 41-3, Idaho 63-14, Towson 38-22, South Carolina 23-21, Mississippi St 37-17, and Ole Miss 41-35, along with road wins at Auburn 12-10, Texas A&M 24-19, and Arkansas 20-13 to close out the regular season. The Tigers have won 3 games in a row and  5 of their last 6. LSU is 5-7 ATS and the total is 5-6.

LSU is averaging 387.2 yards per game on offense, including 207.2 passing yards and 179.9 rushing yards. The Tigers are #92 in passing nationally and #77 in total offense out of 124 teams. LSU is outscoring teams 30-17 this season. LSU is +15 in turnovers this season with 16 giveaways. They average 57 penalty yards per game, and have allowed 26 sacks this season. The Tigers are 79/188 on third and fourth down conversions, and 42/50 scoring in the red zone with 25 touchdowns. LSU has one of the best defenses in the country. The Tigers are allowing 297.1.4 yards per game, including 194.3 passing yards and 102.8 rushing yards. LSU is #8 in total defense, #20 in passing defense, #10 against the run, and #11 in scoring defense. The Tigers have forced 31 turnovers and 30 sacks. Tiger opponents are 60/181 on third and fourth down conversions, and 24/31 scoring in the red zone with 19 touchdowns. The Tigers have 5 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season.

LSU is battling a lot of injuries with 13 players listed as questionable or out due to injury, ineligibility, or suspension, including 8 offensive and 5 defensive. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has taken every snap for the Tigers though. He is 193/329 passing (58.7%) for 2,489 yards with 11 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He has been sacked 26 times. Receiver Odell Beckham has 40 catches, 673 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Jarvis Landry has 52 catches, 536 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Kadron Boone has 24 catches, 334 yards, and 4 touchdowns. James Wright has 18 catches for 242 yards.

Running back  Jeremy Hill has 130 carries, 631 yards and 10 touchdowns, along with 8 catches for 73 yards. Kenny Hilliard has 80 carries, 456 yards and 6 touchdowns. Michael Ford has 69 carries, 393 yards and 3 touchdowns. Spencer Ware has 91 carries with 358 yards and a touchdown, along with 15 catches, 212 yards and a touchdown.  Alfred Blue is doubtful with a knee injury. He had rushed for 270 yards with 2 touchdowns. Fullback J.C. Copeland has 4 rushing touchdowns, and 3 catches for 54 yards.

LSU is 3-0-1 ATS in December, 4-1 on fieldturf, 5-2 in bowl games, 12-5 against teams with winning records, 7-3-1 in neutral site games, 2-5 after a straight up win, 1-4 after failing to cover and after allowing 20 points or less, 2-8 after allowing 280 passing yards or more, and 0-5 after rushing for 100 yards or less.

Clemson is 4-0 ATS on fieldturf, 7-2 overall, 5-2 after allowing 280 passing yards or more, 3-7 in neutral site games, 2-5 after failing to cover, 2-5-1 in December, 1-5 in non-conference games, and 1-6 in bowl games.

While the LSU defense is still a top ten unit nationally, they have fallen off a bit in the last month. This is due to some key injuries and suspensions. I think the explosive Clemson offense will be able to score some points against LSU. One thing is certain though the team nicknamed the Tigers with purple in their colors from a Southern university that calls their stadium Death Valley will win.

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