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Final Thoughts Before The Bowls
Texas Tech QB Seth Doege
Texas Tech QB Seth Doege
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 14, 2012


Quick-hitting thoughts on each bowl as it all gets underway today.

 
2012-2013 Pre-Bowl Thoughts

The December Bowls 
 


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Before the Bowls - Final Thoughts
- January Bowls | BCS Bowls

Gildan New Mexico
Dec. 15, 1:00 pm, ESPN
Arizona vs. Nevada

By Rich Cirminiello
New Mexico Bowl affords Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez time to tinker with a defense that will have to be fixed between now and the start of next season.

By Phil Harrison
Can an underrated Nevada program slow down the potent offensive-attack that first-year head coach Rich Rodriguez brings to this matchup? They’ll try to do it by controlling things on the ground.

By Russ Mitchell
New Mexico... Old Mexico... It doesn’t matter. This is going to be a classic, wild west shootout. Two teams that abhor defense and can gunsling with the best of them. Tailor-made for Oregon/TAMU fans.

By Matt Zemek
You know Rich Rodriguez will want to get a head start on 2013. Look out, Nevada.

By Terry Johnson
The creator of the pistol offense (Chris Ault) squares off against the inventor of the modern zone read play (Rich Rodriguez). Since the teams rank 7th and 11th nationally in total offense, expect a shootout.

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Famous Idaho Potato
Dec. 15, 4:30 pm, ESPN
Utah State vs. Toledo   

By Rich Cirminiello
The bowl season is ideal for teams like Utah State and its QB Chuckie Keeton, who have earned more attention than they receive during the regular season.

By Phil Harrison
Toledo can score, but can it hasn’t been able to stop grass from growing in the football field. Utah State is balanced and it DOES play defense. The Rockets will have to try and outscore the Aggies.

By Russ Mitchell
Utah State was my Cinderella in August, and they didn’t disappoint - beating Utah soundly, taking both BYU and Wisconsin to the wire (losing by a combined five points) or they’d be 12-0, and knocking La Tech apparently off the deep end. Great matchup against a very underrated Rockets team.

By Matt Zemek
Utah State doesn't blow leads anymore. The Aggies should get it right this time on Smurf Turf after losing to Ohio in Boise last year.

By Terry Johnson
The QB duel between Toledo's Terrance Owens and Utah State's Chuckie Keeton will be one of the most entertaining matchups of the bowl season.
 
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San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia
Dec. 20, 8:00 pm, ESPN 
BYU vs. San Diego State  

By Rich Cirminiello
San Diego State, which played surprisingly well this year, will have no shortage of motivation when it faces former Mountain West rival BYU in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.

By Phil Harrison
When you think of BYU, historically you think of offense. This year, the Cougars are playing a little defense and the level of success they have against a solid rushing attack of the Aztecs will determine the outcome.

By Russ Mitchell
If Bronco Mendenhall’s not coaching the Buffs, this one should be fun. Otherwise, history is unkind to teams playing in bowl games without their coach...particularly when it amounts to a home game for SDSU, who are riding a seven game win streak.

By Matt Zemek
Just like old times in the WAC and (then) Mountain West for San Diego State and BYU. The Cougars' defense should thump Los Aztecs.

By Terry Johnson
This matchup pits strength against strength with SDSU's Adam Muema (112.92 yards per game) facing a BYU defense that ranks second nationally against the run.

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Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg
Dec. 21, 7:30 pm, ESPN
UCF vs. Ball State

By Rich Cirminiello
Ball State can attack UCF’s Conference USA-best D with a lot of potent weapons, such as WR Willie Snead and RB Jahwan Edwards.

By Phil Harrison
This looks like a pretty even matchup on paper. Ball State is on a roll--winning its last six, and UCF comes in losing two out of three but with losses to only the best of the best.

By Russ Mitchell
O’Leary in the O’Brady bowl. Ball St is good at most things but run defense, which unfortunately for the Cardinals is exactly what UCF is good at.

By Matt Zemek
Conference USA has been terrible this year. Repeat this theme as needed during the bowl season. Take Ball State over UCF.

By Terry Johnson
This is one of the more underrated bowl games on the schedule, as both teams were literally one game away from winning their respective conference championships. Since Ball State and UCF both average over 35 points per game, this could turn into a track meet.

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R+L Carriers New Orleans
Dec. 22, 12:00, ESPN
East Carolina vs. Louisiana-Lafayette  

By Rich Cirminiello
East Carolina finally has a quarterback it can build around. And his name is Shane Carden.

By Phil Harrison
What’s the real Louisiana-Lafayette? The Ragin’ Cajuns got blown out against the likes of Arkansas State and Oklahoma State, but played Florida to a near draw in the swamp. East Carolina is not Florida.

By Matt Zemek
Louisiana-Lafayette won this game last year. Will the experience remain as fresh for the Ragin' Cajuns? That's the essential question to ask.

By Terry Johnson
How will Terrence Broadway and the Ragin' Cajuns offense fare against an ECU defense that has a knack for coming up with big plays when it needs them?

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MAACO Las Vegas
Dec. 22, 3:30 pm, ESPN 
Washington vs. Boise State 

By Rich Cirminiello
This may not be a vintage Boise State team, but you never want to give Chris Petersen too much time to prepare for an opponent. The Las Vegas Bowl is an important game for Washington, which needs to erase the memory of its Apple Cup loss, and has a lot of young talent poised to erupt in 2013.

By Phil Harrison
This is an intriguing matchup that has the potential to be a VERY entertaining game. Boise has blown up lower-level competition but has not been the giant-killer of years past. Washington and Keith Price are the more athletic bunch and should give the Broncos fits.

By Russ Mitchell
The Broncos fought for respectability the entire year, with mixed results. UDub’s Steve Sarkisian has his agent “allegedly” out there “looking” for a new job...careful Steve, the good folk in Seattle might just let you go.

By Matt Zemek
Washington and Boise State open the 2013 college football season in Seattle. Winning this game matters less than winning nine months from now.

By Terry Johnson
This contest should be a low-scoring affair, as both Boise (7) and Washington (30) rank in the Top 30 in total defense.

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Sheraton Hawai'i
Dec. 24, 8:00 pm, ESPN
Fresno State vs. SMU   

By Rich Cirminiello
Fresno State has one of the postseason’s best set of triplets that no one talks about, QB Derek Carr, RB Robbie Rouse and freshman WR Davante Adams.

By Phil Harrison
The Bulldogs might be hangin’ loose heading into this one knowing that its laser-light show through the air will be going against the nation’s 103rd ranked pass-defense. Aloha and aloha.

By Russ Mitchell
Home coming for June. Let’s hope his flight is non-stop and doesn’t connect in Phoenix, eh Mustang fans. SMU largely unremarkable, except in pass efficiency defense and turnover margin, in which they are awful and great, respectively.

By Matt Zemek
June Jones really should have left SMU after last season. Why he's still there is a mystery.

By Terry Johnson
Can SMU's offense reach the end zone against Fresno State defense that ranks either first or second in Mountain West in virtually every statistical category?

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Little Caesars Pizza
Dec. 26, 7:30 pm, ESPN 
Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky  

By Rich Cirminiello
Western Kentucky has a nice mix of talent that’ll be looking to make a splash in the Little Caesars Bowl. RB Antonio Andrews, TE Jack Doyle, DE Quanterus Smith, LB Andrew Jackson and S Jonathan Dowling have all had terrific years.

By Phil Harrison
We are to the point this year when a 6-6 MAC team gets a bowl-invite. That should be offset by the knowledge that Western Kentucky has dropped three of its last four.

By Russ Mitchell
Central Michigan is lucky it still has a coach after the first two months of the season - how is this team in a bowl game? Oh Iowa... The Hilltoppers are legit.

By Matt Zemek
6-6 Central Michigan makes a bowl while 8-4 Middle Tennessee doesn't. Western Kentucky has some Sun Belt honor to defend.

By Terry Johnson
How will Central Michigan's run defense -- which ranks 98th nationally -- stop WKU's Antonio Andrews, who averages 134 yards per contest?

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Military
Dec. 27, 3:00 pm, ESPN 
Bowling Green vs. San Jose State

By Rich Cirminiello
San Jose State gets to cap a brilliant years in the nation’s capital at the Military Bowl. If hotshot head coach Mike MacIntyre is in D.C. for the game, it’ll be a surprise.

By Phil Harrison
This is a great matchup between a prolific passing SJSU squad and the stingy passing defense of Bowling Green. Something has to give.

By Russ Mitchell
How is there no Service Academy playing in the Military Bowl? Navy??? Air Force? San Jose State has surprisingly had one of the best seasons in CFB this year. If you’re saying “Who?” right now, all the more reason to check out this game.

By Matt Zemek
San Jose State deserved a much better opponent than Bowling Green after a 10-2 season. There's no way a mid-afternoon bowl on a December weekday on the other coast of the country qualifies as a legitimate reward for a good season… unless the opponent is a sexy one.

By Terry Johnson
It will be interesting to see how well SJSU's David Fales (18th in total offense) plays against a Bowling Green defense that ranks seventh nationally against the pass.

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Belk
Dec. 27, 6:30 pm, ESPN 
Duke vs. Cincinnati 

By Rich Cirminiello
After waiting 18 years, Duke has finally qualified for a bowl game, the Belk Bowl in nearby Charlotte. Can the Blue Devils match the speed of Cincinnati?

By Phil Harrison
This isn’t hardwood, but the Blue Devils will be trying to not just knock on the door of a bowl-game for the first time since 1994, but will try and knock-the-door down against a Bearcat team that might have a problem with motivation as Butch Jones entertains and maybe lands other jobs.

By Russ Mitchell
Duke’s bowling, which is special enough...even if they did lose five of their last six. Duke can neither run the ball, nor stop the run. Cinci can do both. ‘nuff said.

By Matt Zemek
If Munchie Legaux gets his head on straight, Cincinnati dumps Duke. If not…

By Terry Johnson
This will be a battle between Duke's vaunted passing game (277 ypg) and the Cincinnati secondary (19th in passing efficiency defense).

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Bridgepoint Education Holiday
Dec. 27, 9:45 pm, ESPN 
UCLA vs. Baylor 

By Rich Cirminiello
As is often the case, the Holiday Bowl, which will have high-scoring Baylor and UCLA in the building, might be one of the most entertaining games of December.

By Phil Harrison
This game is sure to be one of the highest combined scores of any on the bowl slate this year. The Bruins shouldn’t have any problem scoring against a porous Bear defense, but Baylor will put up more than a fight and might be one of the hottest offensive-teams in the country right now.

By Russ Mitchell
Against great teams UCLA is bad. Against great teams Baylor is good. Baylor is not great, which plays in UCLA’s favor. The question is...is UCLA great? If so, Baylor will rise to the occasion and upset the Bruins. Whatever...Baylor has found itself and will hand UCLA its third straight loss.

By Matt Zemek
Now THIS is the Holiday Bowl we all know and love. California-Texas staged a pillow fight last year. It's time to return to a 56-49 shootout in San Diego.

By Terry Johnson
Expect a shootout, as Baylor's Nick Florence and UCLA's Brett Hundley are two of the most dynamic QBs in college football.

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AdvoCare V100 Independence
Dec. 28, 2:00 pm, ESPN 
Ohio vs. ULM 

By Rich Cirminiello
Frank Solich gets a month to get his Ohio team thinking like winners again. The Bobcats looked as if they might be BCS-busters out of the MAC before running out of steam in the second half.

By Phil Harrison
The Bobcats are going to try and regain some mojo it lost in the mid-season. ULM has shown that it can play with the likes of the SEC and will look to exert its athletic-dominance over a mid-tier MAC team.

By Russ Mitchell
Never thought I’d ever write this, but I miss the Weedeater name. ULM vs. La Tech will-- What? What do you mean the Bulldogs declined??? Sonny, what’s going on in Ruston? It’s about the practices, man. ULM is a bad matchup for Ohio...in Louisiana no less. Sorry, Frank.

By Matt Zemek
Will Ohio be healthy enough to play this game? Maybe in some positions, but not enough of them to win.

By Terry Johnson
Can the Bobcats' opportunistic defense (ninth nationally in turnover margin) stop a healthy Kolton Browning, who carved up SEC defenses early in the season?

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Russell Athletic
Dec. 28, 5:30 pm, ESPN 
Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech  

By Rich Cirminiello
Can Virginia Tech get motivated to play in the Russell Athletic Bowl? Can Rutgers, which was a half away from playing in Miami instead of Orlando?

By Phil Harrison
Disappointment number one vs. disappointment number two. The winner of this game will largely depend on how well Logan Thomas plays, and who can find any sort of motivation to continue playing after a disappointing season.

By Russ Mitchell
No truth to the rumor that Rutgers thought the season ended in Mid-November. No truth to the rumor that Beamer thought the season ended in September. No, mom, we’re not always nice.

By Matt Zemek
Let's see which quarterback – Gary Nova of Rutgers or Logan Thomas of Virginia Tech – plays worse!

By Terry Johnson
Will Logan Thomas and company be able to score against Rutgers team that only yields 14.25 points per game?

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Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Dec. 28, 9:00 pm, ESPN 
Texas Tech vs. Minnesota 

By Rich Cirminiello
It’s nice to see Minnesota back in the postseason, no small achievement for head coach Jerry Kill. Meineke Car care of Texas Bowl a great opportunity for rookie QB Phillip Nelson to pick up valuable reps.

By Phil Harrison
Both teams limped out of the regular season after decent starts. The records are not indicative of how talented each team is. Tech played and beat some quality competition while Minnesota did its work during a very soft non-conference--winning only two games during the Big Ten conference slate.

By Russ Mitchell
Man, I forgot how tedious doing every bowl game is. It’s like birth: God designed it so you’d forget how painful it is in order to bring you back. Texas Tech is barely good, losing four of it’s last five conference games. But Minnesota is spotty too, losing six of its last eight. The Gophers lost to Iowa for crying out loud. Don’t wager. Though Houston rocks.

By Matt Zemek
The 6-6 team from a terrible conference that won only two games in said conference against the team that endured another second-half-of-the-season swoon under a coach who head-slapped a graduate assistant. BOWL GAMES ARE SUCH GREAT REWARDS FOR THE REGULAR SEASON!

By Terry Johnson
Even with Tommy Tuberville leaving for Cincinnati, hold on to your headset, because this could be one of the best non-BCS bowls. The matchup between Texas Tech's passing game (2nd nationally) and Minnesota's secondary (11th) will be fun to watch.

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Bell Helicopter Armed Forces
Dec. 29, 11:45 am, ESPN 
Rice vs. Air Force 

By Rich Cirminiello
Rice gets four weeks to prepare for the triple-option of Air Force. It might not be enough time.

By Phil Harrison
Oh boy. Air Force, despite its name, will look to employ the ground troops. Rice is as soft as rice-cakes against the run. Good luck.

By Russ Mitchell
Look! Another bowl game in Texas. Air Force is an excellent running team. Rice is allergic to stopping the run.

By Matt Zemek
Rice and Air Force both finished 6-6. The Owls overachieved in a big way, and Air Force underachieved to an equal extent. Funny how life works that way sometimes.

By Terry Johnson
Expect to see plenty of yards on the ground, as each team rushes for over 200 yards per game. Connor Dietz and Taylor McHargue aren't household names, but they get the job done.

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Kraft Fight Hunger
Dec. 29, 3:15 pm, ESPN
Navy vs. Arizona State

By Rich Cirminiello
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is a key game for Arizona State head coach Todd Graham, who wants to get a jump start on 2013.

By Russ Mitchell
Ah...here you are, Navy. If Todd Graham is still its coach by the end of December (yes, that’s fair), this will be an interesting matchup for ASU. The Sun Devils survived a horrific four game stretch beginning with the Great Oregon Massacre of 2012. Of course, that was against the four best teams on its schedule. Navy is one dimensional; given the time, Graham is too good of a coach to lose this one.

By Matt Zemek
Arizona State might have trouble preventing Navy from moving the ball, but Navy should have a hard time preventing Arizona State from scoring touchdowns. That's the subtle difference at work in this matchup.

By Terry Johnson
Will the Sun Devil defense (76th nationally against the run) stop the Midshipmen's vaunted option attack?

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New Era Pinstripe
Dec. 29, 3:15 pm, ESPN or ESPN2 
West Virginia vs. Syracuse 

By Rich Cirminiello
West Virginia and Syracuse in the Bronx. It’ll be like a blast from the past, when the Big East still had some relevance in football.

By Phil Harrison
This looks like a mismatch on paper, but it really depends on which West Virginia team shows up, and if the defense gets off the team bus or not.

By Russ Mitchell
Perhaps we should just rename this the “New Era Syracuse-when-iit’s-good Bowl. Actually, this is a good matchup. The ‘Cuse ended the year 5-1, and finished 4-2 in Big East play. The Mountaineers struggled in great part given its poor defense, particularly against the pass. Here comes a Syracuse team that can do just that.

By Matt Zemek
Any handoffs to running backs for between-the-tackles plays should be outlawed in this game.

By Terry Johnson
New Era Pinstripe - The QB duel between Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib will be one of the best individual matchups of the bowl season. At least one of the two signal callers will eclipse 500 yards passing.

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Valero Alamo
Dec. 29, 6:45 pm, ESPN 
Oregon State vs. Texas 

By Rich Cirminiello
With the way Texas has been playing, it probably would have preferred a game outside the Lone Star State. Instead, it got the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

By Phil Harrison
If Texas loses this game against a more than capable defensive ball-club in Oregon State, how hot will Mack Brown’s derrière get? Talent-wise, Texas should roll, but team-cohesion wise, OSU is better.

By Russ Mitchell
Did NIU keep Texas out of a Cotton Bowl game versus TAMU? Oregon State hasn’t been the same since QB injuries sidelined their season. The Beavers ended the year going 3-3, and now must travel to Texas to play the Longhorns. But UT has a truly ugly defense.

By Matt Zemek
Texas has the talent, Oregon State the coaching; Texas the partisan crowd, Oregon the greater incentive to play well. Anybody's game.

By Terry Johnson
Texas ranked third in the Big 12 against the pass despite playing some of the best aerial attacks in the nation. Did that prepare them for Sean Mannion and the OSU offense, which finished second in the Pac 12 in passing yards per game?

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Buffalo Wild Wings
Dec. 29, 10:15 pm, ESPN 
TCU vs. Michigan State 

By Rich Cirminiello
Just a hunch, but Michigan State will look like the team it was supposed to be in 2012 when it faces TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

By Phil Harrison
One word: Defense. Don’t dismiss this game. MSU’s defense has been as good as advertised, but the offense hasn’t held up its end of the bargain. TCU just might be the better team when it’s all said and done.

By Russ Mitchell
The Horned Frogs went 4-5 in conference play, but the season might have been an absolute train wreck when Casey Pachall entered rehab right before Big 12 play kicked off. TCU ran with freshman Trevone Boykin, who played like freshman usually play (those not named Johnny Football) - good and bad. Meanwhile the Spartans were perhaps the most disappointing team in America, largely given an offense that sputtered. They face a top 20 defense in TCU.

By Matt Zemek
Is Andrew Maxwell ready to play well? Don't bet on it.

By Terry Johnson
TCU (10th) and Michigan State (8th) have two of the best run defenses in college football, which means this game will be a low-scoring affair.

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Franklin American Mortgage Music City
Dec. 31, 12:00 pm, ESPN 
Vanderbilt vs. NC State

By Rich Cirminiello
Vanderbilt in Nashville versus coach-less NC State. Music City Bowl has the makings of a lopsided affair.

By Phil Harrison
Do any of us know what we’re going to get from either team in this one? Vandy has been inconsistent and NC State has to get ready while living in head-coaching purgatory.

By Russ Mitchell
Vandy’s James Franklin has done the unthinkable - back to back bowl games, an eight win season, and a top 15 recruiting class for Vandy - whose average recruiting class in the ten years prior was 79. NCSU has a new coach...Vandy might too by the time this game is played.

By Matt Zemek
North Carolina State's coaching transition is likely to help Vanderbilt here.

By Terry Johnson
How will Mike Glennon (2nd in the ACC in total offense) fare against a Vanderbilt defense that ranks 10th in the nation in pass defense?

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Hyundai Sun
Dec. 31, 2:00 pm, CBS 
Georgia Tech vs. USC

By Rich Cirminiello
USC gets Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl. If that doesn’t reek of a disappointing season for the Trojans, nothing will.

By Phil Harrison
Will Barkley be back? More importantly, will the Trojans play up to their athletic ability. Against the Yellow-Jackets secondary, Marqise Lee should have a field-day.

By Russ Mitchell
USC made a bowl game? Only fitting that the underperforming Trojans play the underperforming Yellowjackets somewhere in west Texas. Sad that the amazing Marqise Lee won’t get a bigger platform than this.

By Matt Zemek
Georgia Tech returns to El Paso after losing to Utah last year. Sun Bowl organizers must be so… stomach-punched.

By Terry Johnson
Even though both teams had disappointing seasons, this should still be a great game. It will be interesting to see if the size and speed of the USC defense can neutralize the Jackets' option attack.

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AutoZone Liberty
Dec. 31, 3:30 pm, ESPN 
Tulsa vs. Iowa State

By Rich Cirminiello
The Liberty Bowl gets a rematch between Iowa State and Tulsa won by the Cyclones in the opener. Not exactly Alabama-LSU in 2011, is it?

By Phil Harrison
Nobody will ever figure out why rematches are even a part of the bowl-equation, but maybe a neutral setting will be enough to result in a different outcome. Tulsa has improved throughout the year with a formidable rushing attack, so it could give the Cyclones’ suspect defense fits.

By Russ Mitchell
Just because I have to watch it doesn’t mean you do. To make matters worse, this is a rematch of the season’s opening game, which Iowa State won 38-23. Iowa State has looked good and bad this season...sometimes on the same play. Tulsa lost to Arkansas.

By Matt Zemek
Iowa State already beat Tulsa, 38-23, in September. Nice little reward for Tulsa's Conference USA title, eh?

By Terry Johnson
Yes, it's a rematch from Week 1, but that doesn't matter. The Cody Green - Sam Richardson duel will be worth the price of admission.

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Chick-fil-A
Dec. 31, 7:30 pm, ESPN
Clemson vs. LSU 

By Rich Cirminiello
Leave it to the Chick-fil-A Bowl to put together one of the best pairings of the bowl season. LSU-Clemson is truly a great matchup for the fans.

By Phil Harrison
You have to be excited about the potential of the talented skill-position players on Clemson going against the athletic bunch on defense for LSU. Please, please show up for this game Clemson. We beg of you.

By Russ Mitchell
Let me get this straight... LSU lost to #3 Florida in the Swamp and outplayed #2 Bama, barely losing a game it should have won, and ended up one game away from playing in the SECCG, likely beating UGA and playing ND in Miami. And the Tigers’ reward is the SEC’s sixth bowl game, getting passed by two teams it beat (TAMU to Cotton and SC to )? Yup, this system works perfectly.

By Matt Zemek
LSU's defense. Clemson's offense. Bring it!

By Terry Johnson
This intriguing matchup pits the nation's eighth best defense against the sixth-best scoring offense. Can Tharold Simon, Jalen Mills, and Eric Reid shut down Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins?

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Before the Bowls - Final Thoughts
- January Bowls | BCS Bowls