It’s a bayou Tiger versus a lowlands Tiger and they got their nicknames in completely different ways. The LSU tigers chose their name because of the infantry that fought for General Robert E. Lee during during the Civil War and they became known as the “Tiger Rifles”. The Clemson Tigers got their name simply because Walter Riggs, who was the head football coach in 1896 simply admired the Princeton Tigers and therefor named his team the same.
These two teams have been on a collision course for a couple years now and there have just been a few bumps in the road preventing it. Defending conference champs in their conferences, neither played for one this season which allowed them to finally be paired in this bowl game, could be the best match-up this year.
The Les Miles led Tigers, which will have their coach until they so choose, were hoping to play for another national title this season and the sole reason they didn’t may be due to losing one of the best players in the country. Tyrann Mathieu will be entering the NFL draft after sitting out a season due to suspension by the school, and it left a crater in the LSU defense that caused problems early on.
Playmakers: QB Zach Mettenberger played as well as he could in the match-up with Alabama and had them in position to win the game. He just had to sit back and watch as the season going down the drains unfolded. He has a good argument for being a leader and he’s shown poise of late. Having a pretty good season statistically the one area of concern headed into this game is the number of sacks that he has taken over the season, 26 sacks in all for over 200 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball it’s a tie for best playmaker this season. After losing a surefire heisman candidate for the season due to off field issues, the defense could have folded. It didn’t and thats mostly because Les Miles cupboard is not bare on that side of the ball. DE Barkevious Mingo and S Craig Loston have stepped up their game this season and have led the Tigers to success on defense. Mingo is a disruptor who gets after the QB and Loston has three INT’s for 103 yards and a TD.
Season High – Low: It’s simple for the bayou Bengals, they wanted it all. Les Miles has had them in a position to win it two seasons in a row now and has lost to what will be the back to back champions and Florida. That’s it. They compete at a high level and as a team aren’t very happy about playing in this game, but it is what it is and they have a hungry Clemson team wanting to climb the ladder.
Save for a couple losses in the past few seasons they shouldn’t have had, Clemson has struggle with only one team in the ACC and that is Florida State. aside from that rivalry they have done a pretty good job of winning the games theyre suppose to and need this win to put themselves in the conversation as a legitimate contender every year. They surely possess one of college footballs better players.
Playmakers: Tajh Boyd has to wonder what he needs to do better than he already has to be in consideration for the Heisman Trophy. He had more passing yards and TD’s than the winner this year and was a capable runner having rushed for over 400 yards and scoring 9 TD’s. He has had back to back seasons of more than 3,000 yards passing and is on pace to throw for more than 100 TD’s in his career at Clemson. He will be a handfull for the LSU defense.
Rashard Hall is the leader on defense and will have to be on his A-game with LSU stable of receivers. He has had 4 INT’s on the season and has been the go to guy when needing to lock down an opponent. He has help in Jonathan Meeks who has a pick six this season as well.
Season High – Low: Rolling though your season at a high rate of speed and then all of a sudden you start your conference season off playing the best in the league and the one team you must beat to compete for the title. Clemson lost on the road early in the season in week 4 to Florida State, then got help a couple weeks later when NC State upset the Noles. As fate would have it, the tie breaker is head to head and the Noles held the chips. The Tigers played well down the stretch then lost a heartbreaker at home to #12 South Carolina. Time now to pick themselves up and finish the season off with a win against one of the best teams in college football. Good time to prove yourself unlike last season against WVU. Surprisingly, these two teams have only met two other times and only in bowl games. LSU won both and the last time they met was 1996.
Ohio State Against Participants: It’s amazing to me at times how few times the Buckeyes have actually played some of the historical powers in the history of college football. The Bucks have only face LSU three times and of course the most recent was the 2008 title game in which LSU won easily. The last time they played prior to that was in a home and away series back in 1987 and 1988. In ’87 the Buckeyes tied them in their hollowed home 13-13 and then upset them the following season in the Shoe 36-33. I think the Buckeyes would take it to the Tigers this season playing the way they have of late. Buckeyes 17 to 14
December 29th, 1978 will always be a date that I remember. It is the only time that the Buckeyes and Tigers have met on the gridiron and it is also the game that we lost our beloved Woody Hayes. Nothing else needs to be said about it other than these two teams will probably never play each other because of it. I’m pretty sure the Buckeyes would take it to them. Buckeyes 42 to 28
Expert Picks: Clemson: Alone again WVa LSU: Eric, Mali, Tim, Gary, Janelle, Jason
Prediction: I fell short of my prediction that Clemson would run the table, win the ACC and slide in for a shot at the title. Where I got it right is that I was pretty sure they would play LSU for all the marbles. I still believe Clemson is a special football team, and that they clearly had some turnovers when they couldnt afford to and some injuries that cost them. Theyre healthy now and a rejuvenated squad that should give LSU all they can handle. Tajh Boyd will be the difference. Clemson 23 to 17