College Football Russell Athletic Bowl Preview: #17 Clemson Tigers vs Oklahoma Sooners

2014 Russell Athletic Bowl
#17 Clemson Tigers vs Oklahoma Sooners

Florida Citrus Bowl – Orlando, Florida
Monday, December 29, 2014, 5:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Oklahoma pick
Current Line: Oklahoma -5
Opening Total: 54
Current Total: 49
Opening Money Line: Oklahoma -110 / Clemson -110
Current Money Line: Oklahoma -200 / Clemson +170

Oklahoma is a 5 point favorite against Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Oklahoma is a 5 point favorite against Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Both the Oklahoma Sooners and Clemson Tigers had somewhat disappointing seasons, even though they combined for 17 wins. However, both were in the top 16 in the preseason rankings and had dreams of making the first college football playoffs. Oklahoma especially given the Sooners were in the top 5 at the beginning of the season. Anyway, the 9-3 Tigers and 8-4 Sooners have to settle for a berth in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando.

Oklahoma went 5-4 in the Big 12 and finished tied for fourth with Texas and West Virginia. Clemson went 6-2 in the ACC Atlantic Division and finished second behind undefeated Florida State.

Oklahoma leads the series 2-1 against Clemson. The Tigers won the last meeting 13-6 in the 1989 Citrus Bowl in this same stadium.

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Clemson is coached by Dabo Swinney. The Tigers have losses at Georgia 45-21, at Florida State 23-17 in overtime and at Georgia Tech 28-6. Clemson has home wins over South Carolina State 73-7, North Carolina 50-35, NC State 41-0, Louisville 23-17, Syracuse 16-6, Georgia State 28-0 and South Carolina 35-17 in the last game of the regular season, plus road wins at Boston College 17-13 and Wake Forest 34-20. Clemson has won 8 of their last 9 games. The Tigers were a 3.5 point favorite against South Carolina and the total was 53. The Tigers are 5-7 ATS and the total is 4-8 this season.

Oklahoma is coached by Bob Stoops. The Sooners have a road loss at TCU 37-33 and at home to Kansas State 31-30, Baylor 48-14 and Oklahoma State 38-35 in overtime. Oklahoma has home wins over Louisiana Tech 48-16, Tennessee 34-10 and Kansas 44-7, a neutral site win over Texas 31-26 in Dallas, and road wins over Tulsa 52-7, West Virginia 45-33, Iowa State 59-17 and Texas Tech 42-30.  The Sooners are 5-7 ATS and the total is 9-3 this season. Oklahoma was a 21 point favorite against Oklahoma State and the total was 58.5.

Clemson is outscoring teams 30-18 this season. The Tigers are #6 in points allowed nationally. Clemson is averaging 410 yards per game including 258 passing and 153 rushing yards. On defense, Clemson is allowing 260 yards per game including 162 rushing and 98 rushing yards per game. The Tigers are in the top 5 nationally in all three categories including #1 in total defense. Clemson is +1 in turnovers with 19 takeaways. The Tigers average 36 penalty yards per game and opponents average 43. Clemson is 91/217 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 57/200. The Tigers have forced 44 sacks and allowed 23 this season. Clemson is 36/49 scoring in the red zone with 24 touchdowns and opponents are 19/26 with 14 touchdowns. Clemson has 4 defensive/special teams touchdowns and has allowed 4 this season.

Clemson started off the season with Cole Stoudt at quarterback, but he was benched earlier in the season in favor of Deshaun Watson. Watson broke his hand against Louisville and missed several games. Watson is out for the bowl game with a knee injury.  Watson has thrown for 1,466 yards with 14 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, along with 63 carries for 200 yards and 5 touchdowns. Stoudt has thrown for 1,573 yards with 6 touchdown and 10 interceptions, and rushed for 101 yards on 61 carries.

Clemson running back Wayne Gallman has 142 carries for 714 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 24 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. C.J. Davidson has 62 carries for 245 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 9 catches for 60 yards.   Adam Choice has 50 carries for 218 yards with a touchdown, along with 9 catches for 90 yards. He is out for the season with a knee injury.  D.J. Howard has 47 carries for 194 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 6 catches.

Receiver Mike Williams has  48 catches for 918 yards with 5 touchdowns. Artavis Scott has 68 catches for 851 yards and 7 touchdowns. Germone Hopper has 26 catches for 307 yards with 2 touchdowns. Charone Peake has 2 touchdown catches Adam Humpries has 25 catches and a punt return for a touchdown. Tight end Jordan Leggett  has 14 catches for 161 yards and a touchdown. Ten players are listed on the injury report including three reserve tight ends and four defensive players.

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Oklahoma is outscoring teams 39-25 this season. The Sooners are #11 in scoring and #44 in points allowed nationally. Oklahoma is averaging 481 yards per game on offense including 212 passing and 269 rushing yards. The Sooners are #20 total offense and #9 in rushing offense nationally. On defense, Oklahoma is allowing 382 yards per game including 273 passing and 110 rushing. The Sooners are #117 out of 128 teams in pass defense and #10 in rush defense. Oklahoma is even in turnovers with 19 takeaways. The Sooners average 47 penalty yards per game and opponents average 50. Oklahoma is 79/181 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 84/212. The Sooners have forced 28 sacks and allowed 8 this season. Oklahoma is 47/57 scoring in the red zone with 41 touchdowns and opponents are 30/36 with 19 touchdowns. The Sooners have 3 pick sixes and 2 kick returns for touchdowns. Oklahoma has allowed 2 pick sixes, a fumble return for a touchdown and a punt return for a touchdown this season.

Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight missed the last 2 games with a concussion. Knight is listed as probable and will likely start. Redshirt freshman Cody Thomas started the last two games. Knight  has completed 58.1% of his passes for 2,197 yards with 14 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, along with 66 carries for 340 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns. Thomas has thrown for 342 yards with 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, along with 23 carries for 141 yards and a touchdown

Running back Samaje Perine has 240 carries for 1,579 yards and 21 touchdowns, plus 12 catches for 86 yards. Against Kansas, Perine set and NCAA single game rushing record with 427 yards and 5 touchdowns. He twisted his ankle against Oklahoma State but is listed as probable. Alex Ross has 86 carries for 564 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ross also has 9 catches for 66 yards and 2 kick returns for touchdowns. Keith Ford has 67 carries for 384 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 11 catches for 140 yards and a touchdown.

Receiver Sterling Shepard has 50 catches for 957 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is probable with a groin injury and has missed the last 4 games. Durron Neal has 40 catches for 508 yards and 3 touchdowns. K.J. Young has 19 catches for 225 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Blake Bell has 13 catches for 154 yards and 4 touchdowns. Four defensive players are questionable or out.

Clemson is 4-1 ATS in neutral site games, 5-2 after a cover, 1-4 on grass and after allowing 20 points or less, 1-5 after a straight up win, and after gaining 450 total yards or more, and 1-6 overall.

Oklahoma is 6-1 in non-conference games, 24-9 after a straight up loss, and 2-6 overall.

Oklahoma has three losses by a total of 8 points, but they finally have all three of their top offensive weapons back in Knight, Perine, and Shepard. Clemson is dominant on defense but struggles on offense. I think Oklahoma has enough to win a close game.

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