New Year's Eve marks the return to college football bowl games after a one-day hiatus to accommodate the final week of NFL regular season play. Four bowls are on the schedule, with the most notable being the Chick-Fil-A Bowl between the No. 8 LSU Tigers from the SEC and the No. 14 Clemson Tigers from the ACC.
Monday evening's clash in Atlanta will pit one of the nation's most stingy defenses in LSU against one of the country's most prolific offenses in Clemson.
LSU, which gives up just 194.8 yards per game through the air (good for 20th in the nation) and 103.1 yards per game (good for ninth in the country), will have to contend with one of the NCAA's top quarterbacks in Tajh Boyd. Boyd threw for 3,550 yards this season and 34 touchdowns, completing 66.6 percent of his passes.
In addition to Boyd (who is also a crucial part of the Tigers' run game), Clemson comes at opponents with running back Andre Ellington, who finished the season with 1,031 yards and eight TDs. What's even more impressive, though, is that the senior RB has averaged over five yards per carry on the year.
Along with receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who was tremendous, going for over 1,200 yards and 16 TDs this year, Boyd and Ellington make one tough offense to plan for.
In fact, Clemson wrapped up the regular season as the sixth-best team in the country in terms of points per game, averaging over 42 per contest.
Perhaps the only thing equally as impressive as Clemson's offense in this game is LSU's defense, which not only ranks among the top 20 in passing yards against and rushing yards against, but also comes in at 11th in the country in points per game against.
One of the most interesting stats for LSU's defense is that the unit has combined to intercept 18 passes this season and has only allowed 13 touchdowns through the air.
Tajh Boyd and the Clemson passing game against LSU's stingy passing defense will surely be one of the biggest storylines of the bowl season.
In the end, LSU will emerge victorious.
While Clemson's offense has certainly been impressive this season, its best wins have come against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. The team's only two games against opponents ranked in the Top 25 resulted in losses (those two teams were Florida State and South Carolina).
Meanwhile, LSU has been tested in college football's toughest conference all year, picking up wins against ranked teams like Mississippi State, South Carolina and Texas A&M. Its losses to top-ranked Alabama and Florida came by a combined 11 points as well.
Led by a balanced defense that includes players like Tharold Simon and Craig Loston in the secondary and Bennie Logan and Barkevious Mingo on the defensive line, LSU is simply the superior team.
Look for an LSU win tonight at the Georgia Dome.
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