Sep 20, 2014; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney shouts to his players against the Florida State Seminoles during the during the second quarter at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
December 29 College Bowl Picks: Russell Athletic Bowl
Oklahoma (-3) vs. Clemson | Orlando, FL | 5:30pm ET (ESPN)
Clemson had their sights set on bigger things this season, but a year after losing Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins, they are quite pleased with their 9-3 season.
Oklahoma is not happy with their 8-4 season at all; they wanted a national championship. Beginning with their loss to TCU in early October, the Sooners lost almost every other game the rest of the way, and a year that started with them ranked number four saw them take loss number four. A fifth one would be beyond what they could accept.
Clemson’s calling card this season is their defense, ranked 6th in the nation. Boston College saw it up close, and it’s tough, especially when it comes to smothering the run game. That will prove difficult for Oklahoma, who have one of the best rushing offenses in the nation behind the efforts of Samaje Perine. The freshman has helped the Sooners have a top FBS this year overall.
OU’s problem has been the defense letting them down, while Clemson has searched for offensive consistency. If quarterback Deshaun Watson plays, they have it, and if Cole Stoudt plays, they sometimes don’t. Watson played the South Carolina season finale on a torn ACL, and has had repair surgery, meaning Stoudt is Clemson’s man against Oklahoma.
The Clemson defense will keep them in it, but this one might come just out of reach for the Clemson offense.