As if the Clemson Tigers didn't have a tall enough task going up against the LSU Tigers, it appears they might have to do it without star wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
UPDATE: Monday, December 31 at 8:15 p.m. ET by Tim Keeney
Watkins has reportedly avoided a major injury, but he won't be able to return to Monday night's game (via Clemson Athletics' Twitter account):
---End of update---
Watkins was injured on Clemson's first offensive play of the game, and according to CBS Sports' college football Twitter account, it didn't look good as he departed the gridiron:
Sammy Watkins coming off and not putting any weight on his right leg.— Eye on College FBall (@EyeOnCFB) January 1, 2013
Watkins now being helped to a cart.— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) January 1, 2013
It was about as terrible of a start as Clemson could have dreamed up.
The always-explosive Watkins took a handoff in the backfield and was immediately blown up with a monstrous hit by LSU's dangerous defensive end, Barkevious Mingo.
Not only did Watkins hurt his leg on the play, but he fumbled, LSU recovered and Jeremy Hill ran the subsequent play 17 yards for a touchdown to make it 7-0 within the first minute of the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Clemson did respond nicely with an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to tie the game up, but losing Watkins to what appears to be a serious injury is a potentially crucial blow for the final game of the season.
The sophomore, who has been plagued with several different maladies this season, has seen a decrease in production to "only" 708 receiving yards and 100 rushing yards, yet it's still obvious that he brings a new dimension to this offense whenever he's on the field.
Nonetheless, Clemson has the offensive weapons in Andre Ellington and DeAndre Hopkins to help make up for his potential absence.
We'll be sure to keep you updated as more becomes known regarding the status of the dynamic playmaker.