Chick-Fil-A Bowl 2012: Keys to Victory in LSU-Clemson Showdown

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2012

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 17:  Zach Mettenberger #8 of the LSU Tigers drops back to pass during a game against the Ole Miss Rebels at Tiger Stadium on November 17, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl features a battle of two very different Tigers, when LSU takes on Clemson in the heart of SEC and ACC country, Atlanta, Georgia. 

This is like the fight between a fighter with huge knockout power and the smaller stud with incredible speed who can move all over the place. It is very much the unstoppable force versus the immovable object. 

Before LSU and Clemson kickoff, here is what both teams need to do in order to walk out of Atlanta with a victory. 


LSU Tigers

Use play-action passing to exploit Clemson secondary; Make Clemson one-dimensional

LSU's passing game is abysmal. Zach Mettenberger has basically been told not to screw things up when he does get the opportunity to throw the ball, as evidenced by his paltry 11-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. 

However, if there is going to be a game this season when LSU does open things up, this would be it. Clemson's defense ranks 81st in the country against the pass. The secondary allows nearly 13 yards per completion and gave up 22 passing touchdowns. 

On the defensive side, Clemson does have a very good offense. Tajh Boyd is one of the best quarterbacks in the country, but the Tigers need to have good balance between the running and passing game. 

In its two losses against Florida State and South Carolina, Clemson's leading rusher had just 127 total rushing yards. 

LSU has one of the best defensive lines in the country. If it can keep Andre Ellington in check throughout this game, the secondary will be able to force Boyd into making some mistakes, the way he did against South Carolina. 


Clemson Tigers

Create turnovers and set up a short field for the offense; Force Mettenberger to make a play

Since Clemson has no pass defense to speak of, it needs to find ways to create more chances for the offense to get back on the field. The only way to do that is by forcing turnovers. If the defense isn't forcing turnovers, this game will be over before it begins. 

The Tigers finished just a bit better than average (45th) in interceptions this season with 12. That's not a huge number, but it is good enough in a game like this where they aren't facing a dynamic offense. 

If they can create two turnovers that set up very short fields for Boyd and the offense, the Tigers can make this a game. 

In keeping with the turnover theme, force LSU to throw the ball and make Mettenberger create a play on his own. He is not accustomed to winning games for LSU, so challenge him in a way that takes him out of his comfort zone. 

LSU doesn't want him throwing the ball more than 25 times. It is on Clemson to devise a scheme that stops running backs Jeremy Hill and Kenny Hilliard. It doesn't happen often, but Clemson's defense has to step up to give the team a chance.