Chick-fil-A Bowl keys

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
12:30
PM ET
Here are three keys for Clemson against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl:

1. Win the battle up front. This game will arguably be won or lost in the trenches, where Clemson will have its hands full with LSU’s defensive line. Clemson will need to give quarterback Tajh Boyd time to make good throws and decisions -- unlike in the loss to South Carolina, when Clemson allowed 4.5 sacks. LSU is averaging 2.5 per game, and defensive end Sam Montgomery leads LSU with seven sacks and has 12 tackles for loss.

2. Bring the D this time. Clemson’s defense was an embarrassment in last year’s 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the Discover Orange Bowl. The Tigers were absolutely humiliated. In order to further distance themselves from that performance, it would help if the defense remembered to show up, particularly on third downs. Clemson struggled to make the critical stops on third down against rival South Carolina this year, and the Tigers can’t afford to do the same against LSU. LSU’s strength is its defense, and No. 1 on this list is definitely key, but if the Tigers D doesn’t show some improvement, the program won’t be able to take the next step and win a BCS bowl.

3. Protect the ball. LSU is tied for No. 8 in the country in turnovers gained with 31, and they are No. 8 in the country in turnover margin. One of the reasons Clemson lost to South Carolina was because it lost the turnover battle thanks to two momentum-changing interceptions by Boyd. LSU’s defense is good enough without giving the Tigers any freebies.

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