- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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ATLANTA -- Welcome to the Georgia Dome!
We're in for quite the game tonight here at the Chick-fil-A Bowl, as No. 8 LSU takes on No. 14 Clemson in a battle of the Tigers. I hear that the naming rights to Death Valley and a whole bunch of chicken sandwiches are on the line in this one.
It's a great way to ring in the new year, as Clemson's high-powered offense takes on LSU's top-ranked defense. There will be a battle of top 10s tonight, with Clemson entering with the eighth-ranked offense (518.3 yards per game) and LSU coming in with the No. 7 defense (296.2).
Some down on the Bayou weren't too pleased about this being the bowl destination for their beloved Tigers after a 10-2 season, but we could see a real classic with LSU's defense taking on Clemson's offense. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd enters with more than 3,500 passing yards and led the ACC with 34 touchdowns, while LSU's defense has allowed more than 276 passing yards only three times this season. However, all three of those games came during the last three games of the season.
LSU has a load of speed on the defensive side, and has been extremely good at getting to the quarterback with its elite defensive line, headlined by Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo and Bennie Logan. The Tigers put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but mainly do it without the use of the blitz. The last time Boyd and this Clemson line played a solid defensive line, South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney ate Boyd up and the junior quarterback completed less than 50 percent of his passes and threw two interceptions.
But Clemson has two elite receiving weapons in DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins, who combined for 125 catches for 19 touchdowns and more than 1,900 yards. Both make a lot of plays after the catch, so LSU will not only have to worry about eliminating the deep ball, it will have to worry about stopping Clemson in the YAC department.
Stay glued to this one because we have a good one on our hands.
21hAlex Scarborough and Greg Ostendorf
2dEdward Aschoff and Greg Ostendorf