2010 Meineke Car Care Bowl - USF vs. Clemson
USF QB B.J. Daniels & Clemson DE DaQuan Bowers
USF QB B.J. Daniels & Clemson DE DaQuan Bowers
Posted Dec 30, 2010

2010-2011 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2010 Meineke Car Care Bowl - USF vs. Clemson

2010 Meineke Car Care Bowl

(7-5) vs. Clemson (6-6)

Friday, December 31st, 12:00, ESPN  

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SCROLL DOWN to the bottom for all the CFNers' confidence picks and bowl history

By Richard Cirminiello

There'll be a few hours left in 2010 when the Meineke Car Care Bowl kicks off, but for Clemson, it's already 2011.

The Tigers want to divorce themselves from last season as quickly as possible. And why not? A year after winning the ACC Atlantic and nearly beating Georgia Tech in the title game, they've slumped to the program's worst mark in more than a decade. Making matters more frustrating is that it appeared to have enough talent on both sides of the ball to be right back in the conference title hunt. The season appeared to turn way back on Sept. 18. Leading Auburn 17-3 at the start of the second half, Clemson was unable to hang on, falling to the nation's top-ranked team in overtime, 27-24. It dropped the next two games to Miami and North Carolina, and spent the rest of the year riding a wave of mediocrity.

Statistics In Yards
SF    C
3,743 Total
3,842 Total
23.5 Scoring
19.5 Scoring
1,793 Rushing
1,588 Rushing
1,950 Passing
2,254 Passing
-0.25 Turnover Margin -0.25
Position Rankings
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
SF   C
4 QBs 3
3 RBs 3
2.5 WRs 3.5
3.5 O Line 3.5
3.5 D Line 4
3.5 LBs 4
4 DBs 3.5
4 STs 4
4 Coach 3
CFN 2010 2011 CFN Bowl Previews & Confidence Picks
- New Mexico - BYU vs. UTEP
- Human. - Fresno St vs. NIU
- New Orleans - Troy vs. Ohio
- St. Pete - UL vs. So Miss
- Las Vegas - Utah vs. Boise St
- Poinsettia - SDSU vs. Navy
- Hawaii - Tulsa vs. Hawaii
- Little Caesars - Toledo vs. FIU
- Ind. - Air Force vs. GT
- Champs - NC St vs. WVU
- Insight - Iowa vs. Mizz
- Military - Mary. vs. ECU
- Texas - Illinois vs. Baylor
- Alamo - Ok St vs. Arizona
- Armed Forces - SMU vs. Army
- Pinstripe - SU vs. KSU
- Music City - UNC vs. Tenn
- Holiday - Neb vs. Wash
- Meineke - USF vs. Clemson
- Sun - Miami vs. ND
- Liberty - UCF vs. Georgia
- Chick-fil-A - FSU vs. USC
- TicketCity - NW vs. TT
- Outback - PSU vs. Florida
- Capital One - MSU vs. Bama
- Gator - Mich vs. Miss St
- GoDaddy - MU vs. MT
- Cotton - A&M vs. LSU
- Compass - Pitt vs. UK
- Kraft - BC vs. Nevada
- Rose - UW vs. TCU
- Fiesta - OU vs. UConn
- Orange - Stan. vs. VT
- Sugar - Ark. vs. OSU
- BCS Champ. - Aub. vs. Oregon
You want proof that Clemson is looking through the windshield and not the rear-view mirror? Even though QB Kyle Parker has patched things up with head coach Dabo Swinney and will start, the staff would still like to get a good look at his backup, redshirt freshman Tajh Boyd. While Parker's pro future is going to be in Major League Baseball, Boyd is considered to be the successor and the heir apparent next fall. A five-star, can't-miss recruit in 2009, he started seeing significant reps at the end of November and will benefit from more snaps on Friday.

While Clemson missed the mark in 2010, South Florida actually exceeded. Very little was expected from a program gutted by graduations, but it managed well, becoming bowl-eligible three weeks before the regular season ended. The Bulls competed hard in the Big East, losing three games by a touchdown or less, and picked up a signature win at Miami on Nov. 27. That game, coupled with last year's upset of Florida State in Tallahassee, provided tangible proof that USF was gaining ground on the other Sunshine State heavyweights.

Around Tampa, the feeling is that the best is yet to come. This was only the first season for head coach Skip Holtz, who inherited a roster with plenty of holes. Once he really settles in and gets a couple of recruiting classes implemented into the system, South Florida feels it can compete for a BCS bowl game in most years. A trip to Charlotte could prove to be pivotal in this evolution. Yeah, the Bulls have earned six straight bowl berths, but who've they've beaten? East Carolina? Memphis? Northern Illinois? Those don't resonate. Clemson, even at 6-6, however, will, especially in a game played in the heart of ACC country.

For some, the ACC and the Big East are BCS interlopers, outsiders that don't deserve an automatic bid to one of the five major bowl games. This is one of two postseason games pairing up the two conferences, match ups that'll go a long way toward determining who falls a notch further in the pecking order debate.

Players to Watch: Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers has seen the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows over the past few months. Before the season began, he lost his dad, Dennis, suddenly. Since then, he's been one of the nation's most dominant players, positioning himself as a high draft choice in April if, as expected, he decides to leave school a year early. A 280-pound load coming off the edge, he leads the ACC with 25 tackles for loss and the nation with 15.5 sacks. With Jarvis Jenkins blazing a path to the backfield from the inside, South Florida will hands its hands full trying to contain that duo with a decent front wall.

So who gets the ball from Holtz and faces that salty, veteran Clemson D? South Florida is preparing as if it'll be true freshman walk-on Bobby Eveld, who filled in after starter B.J. Daniels injured his quad in November. While he did an admirable job in relief, the Bulls are going to need a healthy Daniels in the huddle to have any chance of winning this game. Eveld is green and Daniels, while erratic throughout his sophomore season, has far more experience and can make things happen with his legs. The thought of a rookie, with a dearth of weapons, going up against a Tiger defense allowing 17 points a game is a major concern for South Florida.

No matter who gets the bulk of the snaps for Clemson, he'll spend much of the game feeding the ball to one of the team's gifted backs, Andre Ellington or Jamie Harper. A tremendous mix of agility and power, respectively, Ellington and Harper are even better than this year's numbers, which included more than 1,400 yards rushing, 20 total touchdowns, and 43 receptions. They complement each other well and take a lot of pressure off a passing game that's failed to meet expectations. Ideally, the backs will carry the ball at least 40 times, freeing up the airways so the quarterbacks can find WR DeAndre Hopkins and underrated TE Dwayne Allen.

South Florida's answer for Ellington and Harper will be an athletic set of linebackers that plays with range and maximum intensity. Senior Jacquian Williams is the lone all-star, but underclassmen DeDe Lattimore and Sam Barrington made their share of big plays as well. The Bulls allow just 3.5 yards a carry because of their strength up the middle and ability to string plays out from sideline-to-sideline. Whatever future NFL DT Terrell McClain doesn't get after, the linebackers will clean up, keeping the running backs from squirting free into the defensive backfield.

South Florida will win if ... : the defense plays up to—and beyond—its capabilities.

The Bulls are simply not going to win this game with offensive promise. Their best chance will be to make things happen on defense and special teams. That means takeaways and at least one big kickoff return from the explosive Lindsey Lamar. If South Florida permits Clemson to score into the 20s, the likelihood of an upset decreases markedly. It has to play this game in the teens, keeping things tight and turning it into an alley brawl. It's been a rare occurrence for the offense to lead the way in Tampa, and that's not going to change in this match up. The defense must be the catalyst, even if that means scoring points on its own.

Clemson will win if ... : it runs the ball effectively.

The defense is stout. The passing game? Wildly unpredictable. The one variable that the Tigers must turn into a positive is that ground game. The talent is in place in the backfield, and veteran blockers, like LT Chris Hairston, should hold up against the South Florida front seven. Harper and Ellington, in particular, come into this one well-rested and ready to deliver up to their full potential. The last thing Swinney needs is to put his fate in the hands of Parker or Boyd, who'll struggle to solve a feisty and athletic Bull secondary. If all goes well for Clemson, it'll get 175 total yards and a couple of touchdowns from its backfield duo.

What will happen: South Florida is more motivated. Clemson is more talented. Go with the deeper team, which will play with a chip on its shoulder in Charlotte.

Since losing badly to South Carolina on Nov. 27, the Tigers have had a chance to rest, reboot, and refocus. Provided they don't sleepwalk through the first half, they've got the right formula to completely shut the Bulls down. Who penetrates the Clemson defense? Even if Daniels gets the green light, it's not as if he was lighting it up when he was healthy. And his supporting cast is so-so. The Tiger D will dominate from wire-to-wire, getting just enough help from Ellington and Harper on offense to get out of town with a comfortable, workmanlike victory.

CFN Prediction: Clemson 23 … South Florida 10 ... Line: Clemson -4.5
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Meineke Car Care Bowl History
2009 Pitt 19, North Carolina 17
2008 West Virginia 31, North Carolina 30
2007 Wake Forest 24, Connecticut 10
2006 Boston Coll 25, Navy 24
2005 NC St 14, South Florida 0
2004 Boston Col 37, North Carolina 24

Pick ATS: Clemson  Confidence Score: 73
OVERALL CONFIDENCE (35 most - 1 least): 23 out of 35

Pete Fiutak: Pick ATS - South Florida   Pick Confidence - 9
- Clemson had a disappointing year, but it managed to come within an eyelash of beating Auburn in a 27-24 overtime thriller. All six losses were to bowl teams, and while expectations were higher for a team that played for the ACC title last year, a win over a mediocre USF team would be a nice finish. A win for Skip Holtz would do wonders in his first year with the Bulls.

Richard Cirminiello: Pick ATS - Clemson Pick Confidence - 32
- Clemson would be wise to see as much of redshirt freshman QB Tajh Boyd as possible. He's the future with the program. Kyle Parker isn't.

Matt Zemek: Pick ATS - South Florida  Pick Confidence - 6
- This is your number one "don't eat before kickoff if you care about the teams involved" bowl. If you root for the Tigers or Bulls, just expect an abysmal performance; you won't then be stomach-punched once this contest unfolds.

Russ Mitchell: Pick ATS - South Florida  Pick Confidence - 6
- A battle of two teams that underperformed expectations in 2010. Can't wait.

Barrett Sallee: Pick ATS - Clemson  Pick Confidence - 11
- Both teams had higher aspirations, but still a good regional matchup. Clemson running back Jamie Harper will set the tone for his senior year with a big day in Charlotte.

Gabe Harris: Pick ATS - Clemson  Pick Confidence - 18
Brian Harbach: Pick ATS - Clemson  Pick Confidence - 16
Matthew Smith: Pick ATS - South Florida  Pick Confidence - 12
Billy Gomila: Pick ATS - Clemson  Pick Confidence - 7 
Clucko (A coin flip): Pick ATS - Clemson   Pick Confidence -  22