Clemson and LSU will come into the Georgia Dome on Monday night with different objectives. Clemson will be trying to show that they belong among nation's elite. LSU will be trying to prove that they were snubbed by some higher tier bowls. The stakes are high as whichever Tiger team wins will almost certainly start next season in the Preseason Top 10 and could be considered a National Title contender.
Clemson's Offense vs. LSU's Defense
Clemson will be facing one the toughest, stingiest, defenses in the country. For the Bayou Bengals it starts up front with DE Sam Montgomery who has 12 tackles for loss and 7 sacks on the year. If Clemson is able to contain Montgomery LSU has 3 other defensive linemen, Barkevious Bingo, Anthony Johnson, and Lavar Edwards, that are very good at getting in the offensive backfield. Brandon Thomas and Gifford Timothy will have a big challenge against LSU's edge rushers. If they can contain the defensive ends and give Tajh Boyd time to get the ball downfield the Clemson can passing attack can find success against the LSU
secondary. Look for Clemson to take a shot deep early to DeAndre Hopkins or Sammy Watkins but the ability to complete short, quick passes will be critical in negating the LSU pass rush. Linebackers Kevin Minter and Lamin Barrow each have over 90 total tackles and could prevent Clemson from developing a run game. Minter also has 13.5 tackles for loss so Clemson will need to be account for him at all times. Clemson will have to be balanced and contain the LSU linebackers in order to run the ball. If Andre Ellington is able to get 100 yards or more on the ground it should be considered a success as LSU on gives up just over 100 rush yards per game.
LSU's Offense vs. Clemson's Defense
LSU wants to pound the ball down the field by using 3 and sometimes 4 running backs. Jeremy Hill leads LSU in rushing yards and rushing TDs but Kenny Hilliard, Michael Ford, and Spencer Ware can all carry the load and do damage. The Bayou Bengals can be dominant in the run game and can it to keep the ball away from Clemson's offense by having long drives that take a lot of time off the clock. Clemson's D-line will have to shed their blocks quickly. Grady Jarrett and Josh Watson will need to get penetration to slow LSU's run game down. Tig Willard and Spencer Shuey will also need to make quick reads to stop the run and maybe even play close to the line of scrimmage if they want to slow down the run game. Most importantly Clemson cannot let LSU wear them down as LSU outscored their opponents 110-58 in the 4th quarter. Clemson needs to force QB Zach Mettenberger make plays for LSU. Mettenberger has been good at times but inconsistent much of the year and has thrown only 11 TDs. Mettenberger will try to find receiver Odel Beckham who can make plays if he is able to get into space.
LSU's special teams took a big blow when punter Brad Wing was suspended for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Wing has the ability to change field position. Regardless of Wing being out, LSU still has the advantage on special teams. Odel Beckham has is very good at returning punts. Clemson will need to punt the ball away from Beckham because if he has 2 or 3 punt returns one of the will be big. Clemson needs to make special teams a non factor for LSU.
The play in the trenches will determine the winner Monday night. Clemson's offensive line will need to do very well pass blocking and LSU really wants to be good on the ground when they have the ball. Whoever wins the battle at the line of scrimmage will almost certainly win the game and in the 4th quarter quite possible help their team pull away.
This game is intriguing because it pits Tigers versus Tigers, Death Valley versus Death Valley and a very good offensive team against a very good defensive team. Majority of the time a good defensive team will come out on top. Clemson will have to play very well and cannot afford to make mistakes. Also, the game can be easier for Clemson if LSU is dissatisfied with playing in a non BCS Game. Clemson has more to prove and nothing to lose. The winner will end the season with a very good win and go into next season with a top 10 ranking. In the end, LSU is already a top 10 team and knows how to win over very good opponents. Clemson has yet to prove it is tough enough to beat a team of LSU's caliber. LSU wins 34-27.Back to the Clemson Tigers Newsfeed