LSU fans have likely been looking at Clemson as an easy bowl opponent throughout the last month. When these two programs square off for the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl, there aren't many people that will be riding the Clemson bandwagon.
However, anybody that wears the purple and yellow proudly should be giving the Tigers a little bit more respect heading into this game.
We can talk about that horrible Clemson defense all we would like. Losing three of the last four bowl games doesn't look good. The fact that LSU has been about as dominant as you would like the last few years is even more reason to pick against Clemson.
But Dabo Swinney has a ball club that is capable of pulling off an upset on New Year’s Eve.
Clemson Can Score with the Best of Them
There aren't many offenses in the country that are as explosive as the Clemson Tigers. This is an offense that averaged well over 500 yards a game (leading the ACC) and was sixth in the country in scoring with 42.3 points per contest. The unit also converted a little more than 51 percent on third down and scored 51 times out of 54 overall red-zone trips.
Led by an experienced quarterback in Tajh Boyd, this Tiger team can strike early and often. Clemson has totaled 500 yard seven different times this season and is averaging a little more than six yards per play. Boyd has the ability to hurt defenses with his arm or legs, which will make him a handful for LSU to defend.
But Clemson isn't just a one-trick pony, as running back Andre Ellington has rushed for 1,000 yards for the second straight season and is effective catching the ball out of the backfield. The team also has one of the best wide receiver duos in the country with DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins creating magic in the air.
This is an offense that can hurt you in many different ways and even torched Florida State for 426 total yards and 37 points. In case you have been living under a rock, the Seminoles have the second best defense in college football and are allowing about 46 fewer yards than LSU on average.
The LSU secondary has been beaten in coverage at times throughout the year and speed of Hopkins and Watkins is really going to test the defensive backfield.
If Clemson can find success on the offensive side of the ball, this game could turn into a shootout and that is the last thing that LSU wants heading into this matchup.
Motivation Will Be Key for Both Clubs
We have seen many times throughout the bowl season where motivation plays a key part in the outcome. Many teams simply aren't excited about playing in certain games and it shows in the performance on the field.
LSU was a team that was considered by many to have more talent than the 2011 team before the season began. The Chick-fil-A Bowl was not in the cards before the season was ready to kickoff. A national championship appearance or BCS bowl was the goal before the season started, but due to two heartbreaking losses, a non-BCS bowl is what the Tigers had to settle for.
Who will win the big game?
As for Clemson, this is a step backwards considering it was in a BCS bowl last year, but being able to play a high-profile team is something that the program can't complain about. Playing against LSU is a great measuring steak for this team and a chance to prove themselves with the entire college football world paying attention.
Clemson has also heard throughout the month how it stands nearly no chance in this matchup. With the lack of defense and track record against elite programs, many have been quick to give LSU the early victory. A motivated team that is excited for this matchup is the perfect recipe to pull off an upset.
Meanwhile, LSU can't possibly be thrilled about playing an ACC team that hasn't beaten a ranked opponent all season long.
The motivation factor may not seem like such a big deal, but it always plays a big part in who wins games this time of year.
Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.