The Chick-fil-A Bowl odds opened with defensive-minded LSU favored by 3.5 points over offensive-minded Clemson, and that spread has since been bet up to -4.5. The game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta serves as an opportunity for Clemson to buck a terrible 1-7 ATS streak in their past eight bowl games.
Louisiana State began this season not just as a favorite to win the Southeastern Conference again, but also as a legitimate national championship contender. The Bayou Bengals started 5-0, but their BCS hopes then took a big hit with a tough, 14-6 loss at Florida.
LSU then won close games over a couple of quality opponents in South Carolina and Texas A&M, but in the game that meant all the difference for this season, the Tigers gave up a late touchdown and lost at home to Alabama, 21-17. LSU then closed out its regular season with victories over Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Arkansas to finish 6-2 in SEC play.
The Tigers, with their stable of running backs splitting the work, averaged 387 YPG on offense this season, 180 YPG on the ground. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger didn't post the greatest of numbers, but had one of his finest games in the loss to Alabama. Defensively LSU held opponents to just 298 yards and 17 points per game.
Clemson won the ACC last year, and figured to have a decent shot at repeating this year. And they almost got there. The Tigers started 3-0 this season, but in the game they knew might decide the Atlantic Division they lost at Florida State, 49-37. They have been terrible in bowl games, a fact accentuated by their 70-33 loss to West Virginia a year ago.
Not to be deterred, Clemson won its next seven games, scoring at least 38 points every time out, putting up 56 on Duke and 62 on NC State. So the Tigers finished 7-1 in ACC play but missed out on a berth in the conference championship game because of that loss to the Seminoles. Clemson then finished its regular season with a 27-17 loss in the Palmetto Bowl to in-state rival South Carolina.
Led by QB Tajh Boyd, who threw for 3,500 yards and accounted for 43 touchdowns, two-time thousand-yard rusher Andre Ellington and WR DeAndre Hopkins, who caught 69 balls for 1,200 yards and 16 scores, Clemson averaged 518 yards and 42 points per game this season. But on defense Clemson allowed 411 YPG, as six opponents scored 27 points or more.
These teams played two common opponents this season. Clemson opened its season with a 26-19 victory over Auburn also at the Georgia Dome, while two weeks later LSU beat those other other Tigers, 12-10. Also, Louisiana State defeated South Carolina, 23-21, in mid-October, while Clemson, as mentioned above, lost its season finale to the Gamecocks, 27-17.
LSU is 5-2 in bowls under Coach Miles and 5-1-1 ATS in those games. Last year, as we recall, the Tigers lost the BCS championship game to Alabama 21-0. Clemson is 1-3 in bowls under Coach Swinney.
Chick-fil-A Bowl Pick: LSU had hoped for, and probably deserved, a better bowl bid than this one. So motivation might be a concern for the Bayou Bengals. But in match-ups between great offenses and great defenses we usually go with the D. So we'll give the 4.5 points with Louisiana State. (courtesy of PickShark.com)
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