College football is all about matchups. It’s why good teams win and bad teams lose. It’s what separates good coaches from great ones. You find the matchups you can win and exploit them, and you find the matchups you cannot and you try and hide them. In the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl, fans are going to get to see the ultimate matchup of strength versus strength as the smothering LSU Tigers defense is going to try and stop the high octane offense of the Clemson Tigers. And the key to victory could be which coach finds that one matchup they can exploit.
First on Clemson. They sport one of the most impressive groups of skill players in the entire country. Quarterback Tajh Boyd, running back Andre Ellington, and wide receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins are a fearsome foursome that few teams can slow down. For the LSU defense, they are built around speed and athleticism and players like defensive ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montogmery, linebacker Kevin Minter and safety Eric Reid are all going to be playing prominent roles for NFL teams next year. It’s going to be strength on strength for both teams when Clemson is on offense and all eyes will be on which of these dominant units blinks first.
But that won’t be what decides this game. In fact, while everyone is going to be watching the matchup of Clemson’s offense and LSU’s defense, I’d contend the game will be won or lost when LSU has the football and Clemson’s much maligned defense is on the field. The LSU offense has been pretty pedestrian most of the season led by quarterback Zach Mettenberger who came from the JUCO ranks with lots of fanfare but can’t really be counted on to take over the game. Instead the Tigers may be content to turn and hand it off to running back Jeremy Hill and let him gash a Clemson defense that has been giving up big plays all season. The real key to this game is going to be is LSU offense can keep up with the points Clemson will score and can the Clemson defense come up with a key turnover or stop against that grinding LSU offense to sway the tide?
My Predicition-I am a fan of the high powered offenses and I love what Clemson has been able to do this year. But when you factor in coaching and the talent LSU has, I have to give them the edge in a bowl game like this. LSU will find a way to rush Boyd where he’s prone to making some bad throws, are athletic enough to contain his legs, and on offense LSU is going to line it up and just run all over Clemson, wearing their defense down and keeping their offense on the sidelines. Give me LSU by 2 touchdowns when it’s all said and done.