And that’s exactly what happened to Clemson, which went from 40.2 points per game in 2013 to 30.1 this season.
Luckily for the Tigers, the defense stepped up in 2014. Led by All-America defensive end Vic Beasley, Clemson allowed just 17.6 ppg, good for 6th in the FBS. The Tigers (9-3, 6-2 ACC) pitched 2 shutouts and in 3 other games held their opponents to 7 points or less. Oh, they also happen to lead the nation in total defense, ceding just 259.6 yards per game.
The defense better be ready to play Monday in the Russell Athletic Bowl because their challenge, Oklahoma, can pile up the points.
Both teams were 0-3 when facing teams ranked in the Top 25.
Monday, 5:30 p.m. Eastern
Citrus Bowl – Orlando, Florida
Announcers: Mike Patrick (play-by-play), Ed Cunningham (analysis), Jeannine Edwards (sidelines)
Oklahoma (-3.5). Line provided by bovada.lv
Oklahoma leads 2-1
Last Year’s Russell Athletic Bowl:
Louisville 36, Miami, Fla. 9
As mentioned above, this matchup is very intriguing. Clemson’s stifling defense vs. Oklahoma’s potent offense.
But it’s not as if the Tigers can’t score, because they can. They put up 30 points per game, but will be without freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson, who had season-ending knee surgery earlier this month. Clemson will turn to senior Cole Stoudt, who has struggled in the passing game. Expect running back Wayne Gallman to see an uptick in carries.
What Oklahoma does best is run the ball with Perine, he of the record-setting 427-yard game vs. Kansas last month (see the clip above for that gashing). As a team, the rushing offense ranks 8th in the FBS at 268.6 per game. Of some concern is Perine’s ankle, which he sprained in the regular-season finale. He’s expected to play.
Clemson’s defense ranks 7th in ground yards allowed. So something’s going to give here.
It’s going to come down to these things: 1) Can Clemson stop Perine?, and 2) Can Clemson’s offense score with Stoudt under center?
Those answers are 1) Stop, no. Contain, yes. And 2) Just enough.
And that’ll be just enough for a Clemson W.