Battle of Ohio Round One On Tap for Tonight


Can Brian Hoyer find some consistency tonight on the road in Cincinnati?

Two games for your Thursday night football experience.

Cleveland (+7) at Cincinnati (O/U 45) – At 5-2-1, the Cincinnati Bengals lead the AFC North. Their rivals to the North are 5-3. Thus for the first time in a long time these two teams are playing a very crucial game. Also in the division is 6-3 Pittsburgh and 5-4 Baltimore making the AFC North the only division in football with all four teams above .500.

Besides these four teams, there are six others in the AFC that are above .500 as well which means every game for these teams is even more crucial. Falling even a game behind can spell doom not just for the division title but for the wild-card as well.

Neither team is heading into to this game at 100%. The Bengals are without leading tackler Vontaze Burfict and will also be without top cornerback Leon Hall. Meanwhile the Browns are without their top tight end Jordan Cameron so both teams are without key parts of their teams.

The Bengals’ A.J. Green will give it a go with his bad toe and could finally make an impact for the Bengals’ offense after weeks on the sidelines. My gut feeling tells me he will see some action but I don’t know how much of a factor he’ll be.

Both teams are scoring just over 20 points per game and both teams are surrendering about 20 points per game as well. The seven-point spread therefore I find a little large but the Bengals are pretty good home. The major question for Cleveland is Brian Hoyer who has been inconsistent of late. If he gets off to a rough start tonight, could Johnny Manziel finally get his shot?

Key Injuries: CLE TE Jordan Cameron OUT/CONCUSSION, CIN LB Vontaze Burfict OUT/Knee, RB Giovanni Bernard DOUBT/HIP

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in four of Cleveland’s last five games… The Bengals are 12-2-1 against the spread in their last 15 games at home… The Browns are 5-14 straight up in their last 19 games against the Bengals… The total has gone OVER in eight of the Bengals last 11 games at home.

The Pick: I think this game is played in the 20′s and I’ll take the Browns getting those seven points. Take the OVER as well.


Dabo Swinney and the Tigers head to Wake Forest as heavy favorites.

Clemson (-21) at Wake Forest (O/U 42.5) – The Demon Deacons come into this one averaging barely over 14 points per game while they give up almost 25 points per game defensively. Despite having to replace Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant on offense, the Tigers have managed to piece together a 6-2 record to this point.

The Tigers have won five in a row in this series and they’ve beaten Wake in eight of their last 10 games. The Deacons have lost four straight games by an average margin of 19.7 points per game. In the meantime, Clemson has won their last five games by an average margin of 15.2 points per game.

Key Injuries: CLEM QB Deshaun Watson OUT/Hand

Trends: Clemson is 6-3 straight up in their last nine games at Wake Forest… The total has gone UNDER in four of the Demon Deacons last five games at home against Clemson… The total has gone UNDER in 17 of the Tigers’ last 25 games on the road… Wake Forest is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games at home.

The Pick: With QB Watson out, I think the Tigers’ offense struggles a bit so take Wake Forest getting the points and take the UNDER as well.

[UPDATE]: Clemson HC Dabo Swinney says that QB Desean Watson will start at QB. If this holds true than take the Tigers to cover.


What an Opening Saturday in College Football!


More Les Miles' magic propelled the Tigers to a comeback win over Wisconsin.

If this is what we are going to get every Saturday through January of 2015 then I think we’ll all be quite pleased. While there will be weekends with more upsets and perhaps more exciting action, this opening Saturday proved one important thing; I don’t think there is one dominant team out there at the moment. Let’s start with the two big games in Texas.

LSU rallied to beat Wisconsin last night in Houston by scoring 21 unanswered points to win 28-24. The Badgers have to be violently ill this morning after having a powerhouse SEC team on the ropes only to get knocked out in the end. Badgers’ QB Melvin Gordon carried his team with 140 yards rushing and a touchdown but new QB Tanner McEvoy could do nothing in the passing game. He went just 8 for 24 for 50 yards and two picks.

The Tigers meanwhile looked uninterested, fundamentally unsound and lazy while falling behind Wisconsin early and into the second half. Les Miles as expected started Anthony Jennings who was miserable at QB. Brandon Davis came in for a series and didn’t look much better. Jennings was able to find a groove in the second half though throwing two touchdown passes to rally the Tigers to victory.

Wisconsin will have to figure out the QB situation because those numbers by McEvoy won’t get it done. LSU meanwhile has tons of work to do but can build on the comeback win.


FSU's Jimbo Fisher has some things to work on despite winning last night in Arlington.

Up the road in Arlington, defending national champion Florida State survived 37-31 against a very tough and game Oklahoma State team. The Seminoles were thought to be as good on defense as they are on offense but giving up 364 yards and 8 of 16 on third downs is not going to get this team a return trip to Cowboys Stadium for the title game.

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was great when he needed to be despite two turnovers. He threw for 370 yards, a touchdown and a fantastic 28-yard TD run. The big concern going forward for FSU is the running game which put up just 106 yards. The Seminoles’ offensive line is considered the best in the country but they looked anything but against a younger, more inexperienced defensive front from Oklahoma State.

Sometimes it’s games like these that give you a shot in the arm or are a real wake up call. If I’m Florida State this morning I’m hoping that this is exactly the case.

Other games of note…

UCLA needed three defensive touchdowns to win on the road against Virginia 28-20. If Brett Hundley expects to be a Heisman candidate then he has to play better than he did… Ohio State defeated Navy 34-17 to begin the ‘season without Braxton Miller’ campaign. The Midshipmen actually led 14-13 in the third quarter… There was no gigantic upset in the Big House this time as Michigan rolled to a 52-14 win over Appalachian State. This was a much less talented Mountaineer team than was the 2007 team however… Second ranked Alabama survived a tough contest with West Virginia winning 33-22 in Atlanta. The Tide rolled to over 500 yards of offense with running backs Derrick Henry and T.J. Yeldon both going over 100 yards on the day. The alarming part for Bama is that WVU QB Clint Trickett threw for 365 yards which is the most ever against a Saban-coached Bama team. He broke the record set in the Tide’s last game which was a Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma… The clear front-runner in the Heisman race has to be Georgia’s Todd Gurley who rushed for 198 yards and three TDs in the Bulldogs’ 45-21 rout of Clemson. He also had a 100-yard kickoff return for touchdown too.

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Rejoice! College Football Saturday is Back


Hutson Mason takes over for Aaron Murray in Georgia as the Bulldogs welcome Clemson.

It’s finally here! Football Saturday is back!

Clemson (+8) at Georgia (O/U 54) – The Tigers enter 2014 having to replace a lot of offensive talent which means Head Coach Dabo Swinney will rely on a seasoned defense to carry his team early in the season. Georgia enters the post-Aaron Murray era with QB Hutson Mason who will benefit from having Heisman Trophy hopeful Todd Gurley in the backfield.

Cole Stoudt replaces Tajh Boyd at QB for Clemson and although it was in mop-up duty last season, he threw five TD passes. The Georgia defense struggled mightily last season and I’m not sure how quickly they turn things around. I sense a close game in Athens so take the Tigers and I like the over.


Jeff Driskel returns from injury to lead the Gators into 2014.

Idaho (+37) at Florida (O/U 50) – It’s been an incredibly long offseason in Gainesville following last year’s horrendous season. The Gators and Head Coach Will Muschamp will feature a very good defense and an offense that returns quarterback Jeff Driskel who missed most of last year with an injury. His absence led to many of the problems for the Gators.

Last season, the Vandals surrendered 80 points to Florida State and now they play a Gators’ team that has won 24 straight season openers. I like Florida to cover and I love the over.

Fresno State (+21) at USC (O/U 58) – Is anyone happier to actually play a game than Steve Sarkisian and the Trojans? The last week has seen the coach be called a ‘racist’ by a former player and he’s had to deal with Josh Shaw’s heroic story-turned police investigation. USC and Fresno saw each other in the Las Vegas Bowl where the Trojans routed the Bulldogs 45-20.

USC has excellent talent in the top 22 players but the depth is hurting a bit. Fresno State has to replace record-setting QB Derek Carr who could be starting for the Oakland Raiders in the NFL. I like USC to cover today simply because I think  they’ll be excited to play football and remember, this was a ten-win team last season. I love the over as well.

Florida State (-19) vs Oklahoma State (O/U 64) – The defending national champions open their season in Cowboys Stadium against the Cowboys from Oklahoma State. Like USC, the Seminoles have to be happy to get back on the field after a ‘crabby’ offseason for Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.

Mike Gundy has done a great job for his alma mater in Stillwater but he could use a signature win but it won’t happen here. The Seminoles have too much speed and talent in all of the right places and I expect them to cover tonight. I also love the over.

LSU (-5.5) vs Wisconsin (O/U 50) – The good news for Wisconsin is that they are one of the Big Ten’s top teams for 2014. The bad news is that they have lost six of their last seven bowl games which means the jump in competition has been an issue. The fact that the Badgers return just three starters on defense doesn’t bode well for them either. The Tigers always reload well and that’s the case again in Baton Rouge. QB Zach Mettenberger is off to the NFL and Head Coach Les Miles seems likely to play both Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris in the opener.

The game is being played in Houston but that favors the Tigers significantly who don’t have a long way to drive. The amount of newcomers on the Wisconsin defense worries me and it looks like the Badgers will go with untested QB Tanner McEvoy. I like the Tigers to cover and I’ll take the under as the Tigers will limit Melvin Gordon forcing the Badgers to throw.


ACC Atlantic Division Odds for 2014


If Jameis Winston stays out of trouble the Seminoles should have no trouble staying first place in the ACC Atlantic Division.

It was the ACC Coastal on Monday so today I’m previewing the ACC Atlantic.

Florida State 1/6 – The defending conference and national champs return their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and six other guys on offense while the defense returns six starters. With the great recruiting of the Seminoles’ staff, there are more than capable players ready to stand in. There are just two potential bumps on the home schedule and those would be Notre Dame and Florida. The ‘Noles open with Oklahoma State in Arlington but that should be a victory. Other road trips include at Louisville and rival Miami. FSU should find it’s way into the ACC Title game once again.

Clemson 13/2 – Head Coach Dabo Swinney returns just five starters on offense. Among those he needs to replace are Tahj Boyd, Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant. In other words, it won’t be easy. The defense returns seven starters but are they enough to carry the Tigers against a brutal first half of the season that includes road trips to Georgia and Florida State. They do get stubborn rival  South Carolina at home to end the season. Sports books like the Tigers a bit if FSU stumbles but I don’t see it happening.

Louisville 13/2 – The Cardinals make the jump to the ACC and automatically become one of the top teams in the conference despite losing guys like Teddy Bridgewater and Calvin Pryor to the NFL. Bobby Petrino returns for his second stint in Louisville and I believe he’ll have this team up to speed quickly. Just four returning starters are back on defense and that will be an issue. The Cards have road trips to Syracuse, Boston College, Clemson and Notre Dame while getting tough home games against Miami in the opener and Florida State on a Thursday night. This could be a nine-win season.


Steve Addazio has a lot to replace as he enters year two in Boston College.

Boston College 33/1 – Head Coach Steve Addazio did a nice job by getting the Eagles back to a bowl game in 2013 but the task in 2014 will be more difficult because he only has three starters back on offense. One that is gone is running back Andre Williams who rushed for over 2,000 yards last season. I find the schedule to be too much for the Eagles as they host Pitt, Clemson, USC and Louisville while hitting the road to Virginia Tech and Florida State. If Addazio can get this team to six wins it will be a terrific effort.

Syracuse 33/1 – Want a surprise team to lay some money on in this division then here you go. Second-year coach Scott Shafer returns eight starters on offense and seven on defense from a team that finished the year with a nice bowl win over Minnesota. The non-conference schedule should result in at least three wins out of four with only Notre Dame in MetLife Stadium being a challenge. They get division heavyweights Florida State and Louisville at home as well as ACC foe Duke. If they can stay healthy, they could make a bit of noise.

NC State 40/1 – The Dave Doeren era enters year two and he welcomes 14 starters (7/7) back from a team that won just three times and was winless in the ACC. The non-conference schedule is pathetic and the Wolfpack also get Florida State and Georgia Tech at home. They must travel to Louisville, Clemson and North Carolina. I see more than three wins but I wouldn’t count on much more than that.

Wake Forest 100/1 – Dave Clawson comes to Winston-Salem in hopes of rebuilding a once-competitive program. The Deacons had just four wins in 2013 and lost their last five games. Clawson’s Bowling Green teams were very solid in the MAC and he looks to build the same type of program here with ten starters (5/5) returning. The conference schedule starts brutally on the road against Louisville, Florida State and Duke  but they do get Clemson and Virginia Tech at home. A six-win season and bowl berth would be  a great start to the Clawson era.

The Pick: FSU has too much darn talent to go against so don’t. If you’re feeling crazy though, Syracuse could fit the bill.


Colts at Titans is the Top Feature Tonight




The Colts trade for Richardson has so far been a serious disappointment.

A couple of weeks ago, Indianapolis at Tennessee didn’t look all that important but now this game has significant consequences for both teams. In college action tonight, Georgia Tech travels to Clemson and Marshall hits the road in Tulsa. See who I like below.

Indianapolis +1 at Tennessee – If anyone can explain what happened to the Colts last week at home against the St. Louis Rams please let me know. I certainly didn’t see that butt-kicking coming and few people did.

Indy’s trade for Trent Richardson looks worse every week as the running game continues to sputter. The Titans aren’t exactly feeling great heading into tonight though either. They lost QB Jake Locker for the season and became the first and only victim of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Titans are 3-6 against the spread in their last nine games against the Colts. Indianapolis meanwhile is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven at Tennessee. With this game basically being a toss-up, I like the Colts to right the ship for one week at least.


Watkins could be a difference-maker tonight against Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech +10 at Clemson – Remember when Clemson was in the discussion as one of the top teams in the country? Seems like a really long time ago doesn’t it? That’s what happens when you get throttled at home by Florida State.

The loss not only knocked Clemson out of the national title conversation but also made it extremely difficult for them to win their division since they’d need Florida State to lose twice.  The Tigers still have hopes of earning a BCS bid but that possibility needs help.

This game is not just about the Tigers though because Georgia Tech sits atop the ACC Coastal Division and has hopes of earning a shot at Florida State in the ACC Title Game. The Yellow Jackets stand at 6-3 overall and 5-2 in the conference.

Not surprisingly, Tech is among the top teams in the country in running the football. They currently rank 5th with over 311 yards per game while the passing attack ranks 119th. One area that has gone a bit unnoticed for the Jackets is their defense.

Georgia Tech ranks 14th in the nation defensively allowing just over 18 points per game so Clemson will need to be effective and efficient with the ball.

Georgia Tech is 5-2 straight up against the Tigers in their last seven while Clemson is 2-5 in against the spread in their last 7 home games. The ten-point spread is enticing but I think the Tigers will cover with some points late.

Marshall -14.5 at Tulsa – The Thundering Herd takes the field in a road game on November 14th for the first time since 1975. That’s significant because that is the date when a plane carrying the Marshall Football team crashed. The team will wear commemorative helmets tonight in honor of the victims.

The Herd currently sit in second place in Conference USA’s East Division right behind East Carolina. Should Marshall get past Tulsa and 1-9 Florida International then the season finale at home against the Pirates will be for a trip to the C-USA Title game.

The Golden Hurricane has been very disappointing this year as they sit at 2-7 on the year. The over/under is listed at 62.5 and I like the over here. Marshall is averaging over 42 points per game and they give up about 20. The Herd has cleared the over in seven of their last ten road games.

Go with Marshall tonight to cover.


Win Totals for the ACC Atlantic Division


If Tajh Boyd can lead the Tigers past Florida State then they should play in a BCS game.

The Atlantic Coast Conference begins its’ two years of change as Syracuse and Pitt enter the league. Next season, Maryland departs for the Big Ten. Today I’m looking at win totals for the Atlantic Division which features Clemson and Florida State who are both talented enough to get to a BCS game. The rest of the division is in re-build mode and should not pose a threat to the top two teams.

Boston College 4.5 (-140 over/+110 under) – Steve Addazio takes over a BC team coming off a 10-loss season and does so with a no-nonsense approach. The Eagles have Chase Rettig back at QB and All-ACC receiver Alex Amidon. The schedule features road games at USC, Clemson, Syracuse and North Carolina. The program will improve but I’m taking the under.

Clemson 9.5 (-125 over/-105 under) – The Tigers under Dabo Swinney have been very exciting and closed last year with a thrilling win over LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Tajh Boyd returns at QB but the questions will be on defense where there could be three new starters in the secondary. The Tigers open with Georgia at home and finish the season at rival South Carolina. In between are road trips to NC State, Syracuse and Maryland which should be wins. Clemson gets Florida State and Georgia Tech at home. I see nine wins but can’t go higher.


Jimbo Fisher is hoping he can return the Seminoles to the glory they had under Bobby Bowden.

Florida State 10.5 (+170 over/-210 under) – The good news is that FSU is coming off an ACC and Orange Bowl title. The bad news is that the Seminoles must replace E.J. Manuel and a lot of other talent to the NFL not to mention the departure of six assistant coaches. The cupboard is far from bare though as they reeled in a big recruiting class. The road schedule features two tough games at Florida in the finale and at Clemson. They get NC State, Maryland and Miami at home. I see only two games in question for FSU so I’m going for the over.

Maryland 6.5 (-145 over/+115 under) – Last season the Terps were forced to play five different QBs due to injuries. That can’t and shouldn’t happen again. The Problem? The offensive line is still below average and the running game is lacking which is strange under Randy Edsall who typically has good running teams. The final year of ACC play will not be kind for the Terps. They have road games at Florida State, Virginia Tech and NC State. I see a 6-6 season in College Park.

North Carolina State 7 (+110 over/-140 under) – Dave Doeren comes in to revamp the NC State offense and he’ll need time. The athletes just aren’t there to run his spread-type offense yet, but the defense should be the strength of the team as they have speed and experience. A new QB and new system will probably set the Pack back a bit in year one under Doeren. NC State has just four road games but one of those is at Florida State. They have a weak non-conference schedule and get Clemson, North Carolina and Syracuse at home. I’m going to go with the over here and ride the Wolfpack defense.

Wake Forest 5.5 (-145 over/+115 under) – QB Tanner Price returns for the Deacons which is great, but if they can’t improve the running game which was almost dead-last in the nation last year, this team will be home for the holidays again. Jim Grobe will rely on leadership on both sides of the ball and a strong recruiting class on defense should help that side especially. The schedule features six road games including at Miami, at Syracuse, at Clemson and at Vanderbilt in the finale. I think there is enough here for the Demon Deacons to get to six wins.


Bowl Betting Tips (NYE Edition)

Les Miles and the LSU Tigers will look to defeat the Clemson Tigers in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Les Miles and the LSU Tigers will look to defeat the Clemson Tigers in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

After a break to make way for yesterday’s NFL action, bowl action gets underway again today. Four games are on the slate, including the much-anticipated Chick-fil-A Bowl between #8 LSU and #14 Clemson. Here’s Casino Review’s picks for the day.


Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Vanderbilt vs. North Carolina State

LP Field, Nashville, TN

12:00 PM ET

Vanderbilt (8-4, 5-3 SEC) will meet North Carolina State (7-5, 4-4 ACC) for only the second time in history, and the first time since 1946, at noon to contest the Music City Bowl.

The Commodores struggled early this season, posting a 1-3 record to start the year. Seven wins from the remaining eight games has the side rolling into Nashville and confident of knocking off the Wolfpack. For the first time in history the school has booked trips to back-to-back bowl games.

North Carolina State on the other hand closed out the season 2-3, and momentum will be at a premium as it takes the field. A Week 6 win over Florida State – then ranked #3 – will give the side confidence however, as will recent bowl history.

The Wolfpack defeated Louisville in last year’s Belk Bowl, a second straight bowl win, and a fifth win in six bowl games. Vanderbilt lost to Cincinnati in the Liberty Bowl last year, and has lost two of the last three. However, the Commodores did win the 2008 Music City Bowl in their only appearance in the game. North Carolina State makes its bow in the game today.

Odds: Vanderbilt opened as 5½-point favorites, a number that has since increased to 7½. The over/under is 52.

Take: Vanderbilt – The Commodores have a slight advantage on defense, which should prove the difference in this one. A top ten passing defense should have enough to halt the Wolfpack’s 20th ranked passing game, leaving North Carolina State to run the football, something they’ve not managed all season. This will be a close one though. Take Vanderbilt (8-4-0 ATS) to cover the spread though. Take the total to go under.


Hyundai Sun Bowl

Georgia Tech vs. USC

Sun Bowl Stadium, University of Texas-El Paso, El Paso, TX

2:00 PM ET

#1 in the preseason polls with a Heisman trophy favorite, Southern California (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12) had a season forget and you can’t help but wonder if Matt Barkley may be second-guessing his decision not to jump to the NFL last season. Barkley will be out in this one, a fact that has had oddsmakers hot under the collar all week.

The Trojans’ disappointing season will be somewhat upgraded with a win in the Sun Bowl, and most expect exactly that against Georgia Tech (6-7, 5-3 ACC).

The Yellow Jackets made it to the ACC Championship Game, but the default trip only came as a result of North Carolina being ineligible, and Miami (FL) making itself ineligible towards the end of the season. In reality, the school did not have a marquee victory on their schedule this season.

The two sides have met three times before, with USC owning a 2-1 advantage. The Trojans have won the past two meetings, including games in 1969 and 1973. However, USC is 0-2 in the Sun Bow, losing in 1990 and 1998, while Georgia Tech has gone 1-1 in Sun Bowl games.

The Yellow Jackets will look to control the game on the ground. The side was fourth in the country at running the football (312.5 YPG). The Trojans preferred to put the ball in the air, averaging 296.9 yards per game (26th). USC has the defensive advantage.

Odds: USC opened as favorites (-9½) but news of Barkley’s absence has seen the spread lower to 7 ½. The over/under has dropped from 66 to 62½.

Take: USC – After the season they’ve had, in many ways you might expect the Trojans to slip up in this game. However, even a depleted and erratic USC side has enough to beat a Georgia Tech side that failed to beat any side that was ranked at any point during the season. Take USC (3-9-0 ATS) to cover the spread, a rarity this season. Take the total to go under.


Autozone Liberty Bowl

Iowa State vs. Tulsa

Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN

3:30 PM ET

Iowa State (6-6, 3-6 Big 12) defeated Tulsa (10-3, 7-1 CUSA) on the opening weekend of the season. The Golden Hurricane responded by winning 10 of its 12 remaining games, including the Conference USA championship. The Cyclones meanwhile produced a somewhat ordinary season, although wins over Baylor and TCU deserved merit.

The two sides meet again to close out the season at today’s Liberty Bowl.

Iowa State owns a 2-0 advantage over the Golden Hurricane all-time, including this season’s38-23 victory, but has had less success in bowl games. A 3-8 all-time bowl record includes last year’s Pinstripe Bowl loss to Rutgers and four losses in the last six games.

Tulsa meanwhile has had slightly more postseason success. The school is 8-10 all-time in bowl games. A 24-21 loss to BYU in last year’s Armed Forces Bowl snapped a three-game winning streak, a streak that also included four wins from five.

With 240.2 yards per game, Tulsa ranked just outside the top ten in rushing (11th), and with Iowa State ranked 70th against the run, that marks an advantage for the Golden Hurricane. In fact, the school outranks Iowa State in most categories, although importantly, the Cyclones have conceded fewer points.

Odds: With its superior Big 12 pedigree, Iowa State is favorites, but only just. The Cyclones opened as two-point favorites, a number that has fallen to 1½. The over/under is 51.

Take: Tulsa – The Golden Hurricane looked solid in (the inferior) Conference USA this season, and has a genuine chance of upsetting Iowa State, particularly with the Cyclones’ recent bowl history. Take the total to go over.


Chick-fil-A Bowl

Clemson vs. LSU

Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA

7:30 PM ET

One of the real gems of this bowl season, the Chick-fil-A Bowl will see the high-powered offense of #14 Clemson (10-2, 7-1 ACC) take on the robust defense of #8 LSU (10-2, 6-2 SEC).

Clemson ranked sixth in the country in points scored (42.3 PPG) utilizing an explosive passing game – which averaged 319.9 yards per game (13th) – and a solid running game (198.8 YPG).

LSU may have spluttered on offense but with a defense that ranked in the top 20 in passing yards, rushing yards, and points allowed, the side managed to file a decent season. It may not have been the season most expected, but there’s little arguing this was one of the best defenses on show this year.

The biggest knock against Clemson was its soft schedule. The Tigers did not have a marquee win on the season, losing its biggest games to Florida and South Carolina. LSU meanwhile may have lost to Alabama (just) and Florida, but the side handled South Carolina, Texas A&M, and Mississippi State.

The two schools have met just twice before. LSU scored victories in both the 1996 Peach Bowl and the 1959 Sugar Bowl. The Fighting Tigers will be looking to avenge last year’s 21-0 defeat to Alabama in the National Championship Game. Clemson will be looking to wash away any remnants of last year’s 70-33 drubbing in the Orange Bowl at the hands of West Virginia. That might not be so easy for a side that has dropped five of its last six bowl games.

Odds: LSU opened as three-point favorites, but the spread has subsequently risen to six. The over/under has increased from 57 to 59.

Take: LSU – Defense outlasts offense is this intriguing matchup, as the Fighting Tigers of LSU derail Tajh Boyd and the high-octane Clemson offense. Take LSU to cover the spread too. Take the total to go under.