This year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl offers the usual intriguing matchup that results from a bowl with participants from the ACC and SEC. As far as conference versus conference bowl games go, and despite how close the conferences are geographically, this is truly an odd couple pairing. This bowl game is another example of that.
The Clemson Tigers rolled to their second straight 10-win season with Tajh Boyd leading an explosive offense that never had trouble putting points on the board. Even in their loss to the Florida St. Seminoles, Clemson put up 37. The only time they did have issues putting up points was in their regular season finale against the South Carolina Gamecocks. Boyd and the Tigers sputtered after a fast start and ended up with a 27-17 loss. That loss was one of only two games this season where Clemson failed to score at least 37 points. This explains how they finished in the top 10 in scoring.
Boyd’s contribution was evident not only in his numbers (the Tigers finished in the top 15 in passing yards), but also in the flashy, entertaining, and now familiar style of play he presents on the field. Boyd once again impressed while pleasing the crowd, continuing to make Clemson a fun team to watch when they are on offense. He also made them efficient and formidable on offense with their ability to keep scoring large amounts of points week after week.
The LSU Tigers also won ten games this season, but how they did it was very much the opposite of Clemson’s approach. While LSU did have some offensive flash this year, their defense is what powered them. LSU was in several close games that required great play by the defense. Their wins against the Gamecocks, Auburn Tigers, Texas A&M Aggies, and Arkansas Razorbacks were examples of this.
Even in LSU’s two losses this year you can find some great defensive play. Against the Florida Gators, they only surrendered 14 points and while the Gators’ running game had success against them, LSU never caved in and never let the game get away from them. Their loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide came when LSU’s defense couldn’t stop A.J. McCarron on the Crimson Tide’s final drive of the game. Until that point, they had played much better than many believed they would against McCarron, T.J. Yeldon, and Eddie Lacy.
Two completely different approaches to meet the same end: victory. In Atlanta when these teams meet next week, one will achieve that goal for the eleventh time this season. Whatever your opinion of the importance of offense or defense on the game of football, the winner of this game will likely win it using one and not much of the other.