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CFN Chick-fil-A Analysis - Respect Taken
Clemson RB Andre Ellington
Clemson RB Andre Ellington
Posted Jan 1, 2013

CFN's thoughts and analysis on Clemson's thrilling win over LSU.

Chick-fil-A Clemson 25, LSU 24

Helped by a 4th-and-16 completion, Clemson completed the rally by marching 60 yards in ten plays and 1:39 finishing with a 37-yard Chandler Catanzaro field goal that went straight through the uprights. LSU held a 24-13 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but the offense stalled and Clemson QB Tajh Boyd took over, leading the way to 12 unanswered points with a 12-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins and two Catanzaro field goals. LSU dominated early on, taking advantage of a turnover for a 17-yard Jeremy Hill touchdown run, and he later added a 57-yard scoring dash on the first play of the second half, but outside of a six-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry in the second, Zach Mettenberger and the passing game struggled as the offense was outgained 445 yards to 219.

Clemson: The Tigers came up with 32 first downs to nine and ran 100 offensive plays to 48. … Clemson held the ball for 36>21 including 11:26 in the fourth quarter. … QB Tajh Boyd completed 36-of-50 passes for 346 yards and two touchdowns, and ran 29 times for 22 yards and a score, while getting beaten and battered getting sacked five times. … WR DeAndre Hopkins caught 13 passes for 191 yards and two scores. … Sammy Watkins ran once and got injured. … PK Chandler Catanzaro hit field goals from 26 and the game-winner from 37 yards away. … DE Malliciah Goodman made three tackles with three sacks and two tackles for loss.

LSU: QB Zach Mettenberger completed 14-of-23 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown with a pick. … RB Jeremy Hill ran 12 times for 124 yards and two scores. … LB Kevin Minter made 19 tackles with a sack. … DEs Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery each made five tackles with a sack and a forced fumble, but Mingo came up with three tackles for loss.

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By Pete Fiutak
- In hindsight, no matter what happens in the four non-championship BCS games, this was bigger and better than the Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta.

- The level of NFL talent on the field at once was jaw-dropping. That was a grownass man’s game.

- Clemson had the better quarterback. It’s that simple.

- Here’s the problem. We all know Clemson can do something like this. We also all know there’s a five turnover game coming against Boston College right around the next bend.

- But for now, consider the demons exorcised.

- It certainly helps sweeten the deal that West Virginia was such a hot mess in the Pinstripe loss to Syracuse.

- I’m not sure what it says about the LSU defense that the offense came up with nine first downs to Clemson’s 32, and yet it still took a miraculous fourth down play and a last gasp drive to pull it out.


- You know in summer camp when the sadistic coaches are yelling at players to work through the 105-degree heat, the pain and the suffering because the payoff will come later. This was the game coaches are referring to, and now, LSU coaches won’t have any problem whatsoever giving whatever motivational scream they must to get everyone in shape.

- Between Georgia Tech’s nice win over USC in the Sun, and this, the ACC has its bowl season wrapped up no matter what happens the rest of the way.

Richard Cirminiello

There’s no overstating the importance of this Chick-fil-A Bowl victory to the Clemson program. Had the Tigers’ best win of the year come against some middling ACC opponent, like Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech, their 10-win campaign would have been extremely hollow. Beating LSU changes the entire dynamic of the offseason.

Dabo Swinney looked after the win like a man breathing a gigantic sigh of relief, especially after last year’s Orange Bowl debacle versus West Virginia. Watch that demeanor and confidence carry right into Signing Day for Clemson.

Just Les being Les. Les Miles’ clock management in the waning minutes will get heavily scrutinized. And for good reason. With a lead and two minutes left on the clock, why in the world do you call for three Zach Mettenberger passes, allowing Clemson to keep all of its timeouts? Vintage Les. Senseless Les.

There was a Malliciah Goodman sighting in the Georgia Dome, and it was a long-time coming. The perennial Clemson underachiever played as if he was feeding off the LSU defensive ends, collecting 3.5 sacks, while making the NFL scouts in attendance do a swift double-take.

Epic performance by Clemson QB Tajh Boyd and WR DeAndre Hopkins, who torched a grown-up secondary, without the support of injured Sammy Watkins on the other side. Boyd took a beating from the LSU D, yet just kept rallying the troops until Chandler Catanzaro kicked the game-winner. The junior either got a jump on the 2013 Heisman race or soared up draft boards, pending the decision about his future.

Brent Venables was hired by Swinney a year ago to prevent Clemson from ever suffering the kind of defensive black eye that it did last January. He earned his Tiger stripes this evening, as his D allowed just 219 yards and nine first downs to LSU. The Tigers were kept out of the end zone for the final 29:43 of the game.

By Matt Zemek
E-mail Matt Zemek

This game was so good and delivered such an unexpected plot twist that it demands more than just three or four observations. To close out the old year and ring in the new one, here are 12 observations at the end of the 2012 Peach Bowl. (We know what the corporate name is, but the Peach Bowl name is a name that deserves to endure.) On with the show:

1) Sure, the two pass plays called by LSU offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa inside the final two minutes of regulation were remarkably stupid. You are free to acknowledge that those play selections decided the game. Having arrived at that conclusion, don't leap to the fallacious conclusion that LSU deserved to win the game or outclassed Clemson.

2) Why? LSU has been poorly coached in previous late-game situations, yet somehow managed to win. LSU lives on the edge, and when a team is ballsy enough to produce a big-boy scoring drive in the final two minutes, you tip the cap to that team. This was NOT a fluke victory for Clemson.

3) Tajh Boyd and Nuke Hopkins made themselves millions upon millions of dollars in this game.

4) So did Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery, and Malliciah Goodman.

5) Notice how Clemson's offense improved when tempo became more of a necessity in the final minutes. That's no idle coincidence.

6) How do you attack elite SEC defenses, which are elite by virtue of having fire-breathing defensive linemen with NFL-grade quickness? You emphasize tempo. Realize this, offensive coordinators. There's really no other approach to employ in 2013.

7) Clemson was so mentally fragile in the 2012 Orange Bowl. This time, the ACC Tigers learned how to handle a moment. This doesn't guarantee huge things for them in the future; Chad Morris will probably be employed elsewhere in 2014, after this upcoming season. Yet, it's certainly a step in the right direction for Dabo Swinney, who can now tell his team how much it has grown.

8) Once again, an LSU defense was victimized in the final minutes of regulation time, even though the Bayou Bengals' offense (Studrawa in particular) ultimately lost this game.

9) This massive triumph for the Atlantic Coast Conference makes the 2013 Orange Bowl that much more fascinating.

10) Clemson won this game without stud receiver Sammy Watkins. Think about that.

11) What must South Carolina be thinking after this game? It dominated Clemson in Clemson, but LSU's offensive line – which was below average in this Peach Bowl – drilled the Gamecocks' vaunted defensive front in Baton Rouge.

12) Good luck coming anywhere close to this game in terms of quality, tension and physicality, Rose Bowl. Same for you, Orange and Sugar Bowls.

By Phil Harrison
Follow me @PhilHarrisonCFN

-Finally Clemson can claim a significant win against a quality opponent in a big-time spotlight. Year after year, the Tigers show well early only to flip and flop like a fish out of water as the season winds down. That was then, this is now. Maybe this will start a new era for Clemson football.

- Is it possible that the SEC was a bit overrated this year? Before you cavalierly disregard the thought of such a ridiculous statement, keep in mind that the SEC teams got their rankings by and large because of how the teams fared against each other. Yeah there are plenty of reasons to give the SEC the benefit of the doubt because of recent history, but at some point the cycle will turn. There will be plenty of more evidence with a plethora of SEC teams still to play this bowl season.

- How good has DeAndre Hopkins been this year for Clemson? The talk coming into the matchup with the Tigers was that he wouldn’t be able to shake free against the big-time defense of the SEC’s LSU defense. Wrong. This kid can play against anyone.

- Someone better keep a watch on Dabo Swinney tonight. He might tear Atlanta apart with excitement.

- Maybe, just maybe, the ACC can use this win as a bit of tonic to a disastrous 2012 regular season. Big wins outside of conference were hard to come by, and the league lost Maryland to the Big Ten at the end of the season. This game is arguably the biggest win we’ve seen the conference have in a long, long time. You’re up Florida State.

By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball

Give Dabo Swinney and his team credit for making the plays that they had to in order to win this game. Sure, LSU's coaching staff made some poor choices at the end, but those decisions wouldn't have mattered if Tajh Boyd hadn't made some clutch throws on Clemson's final drive.

That's right, I'm calling out the LSU coaching staff for their late-game clock management. What were they thinking? There was simply no reason to run three consecutive pass plays with 2:47 to go when three straight runs would have exhausted Clemson's timeouts. Even if the Bayou Bengals went three-and-out, Dabo Swinney's team would have had to march 80 yards with just 90 seconds to play.

Make no mistake about it: this is a huge victory for the ACC. After coming up empty in big games this year, the conference recorded a much-needed signature win against an SEC opponent.

The game ball goes to the Clemson defense. Sure, the Tiger D has improved under the leadership of Brent Venables, but it still struggled at times during the season. However, it dominated tonight's game, holding LSU to just 100 yards rushing, and recording a season-high six sacks.

Over half of those sacks belonged to DE Malliciah Goodman, who likely moved way up on NFL draft boards tonight.

Yes, DeAndre Hopkins is ready play at the next level. Despite drawing most of the LSU secondary's attention with Sammy Watkins out of the game, Hopkins hauled in a career-high 14 catches for 194 yards. That's quite a performance against a Bayou Bengal secondary that's loaded with NFL-caliber talent.

Even though they lost tonight, expect LSU to contend for the SEC West title next year. Yes, they'll lose some players to the NFL, but with so much talent at RB and a more seasoned Zach Mettenberger under center, there's no reason to expect any drop off from this year's 10-win team.

By Bart Doan
Follow me @Bart_cfn

The Deeathe Vallee Tigers of Clemson r better than the onez from LSU. My bad. I let the Chick-Fil-A cow get ahold of my computer before I could get into typing this. What a game. This is unequivocally why we enjoy college football so much. A close game, mostly bereft of major mistakes that will leave blame to one side, players making plays, and a shotgun finish. Basically, 2012 said “here, this is for most of the year in football. Enjoy.”

First thought is, Tajh Boyd entered another level tonight. In a weak quarterback class by NFL standards, Boyd was unreal tonight. LSU bashed and battered him like one of those Crown Victorias that are fodder in a monster truck rally. Boyd, in a word, was pure awesome. And he did it with very little time to throw on long yardage needing downs late in the game. Fourth and 16. Third and 11. You don’t convert those against LSU. You just don’t. Yet Boyd did, with passing that needed to be on point.

As far as LSU goes, they won the beginning of the game and the beginning of the second half with big play touchdowns that sure seemed like they’d gobble the wind out of whatever the bengal cats northeast might have.

There will be a lot of kvetching about LSU getting the ball with under three minutes left and choosing to throw the ball three times, not forcing Clemson to use a single timeout, which would become a crucial aid later. Problem is, it’s not that easy. Whatever coverages Clemson was showing, LSU obviously felt like throwing the ball was the route to go to surprise them. Similarly, Clemson nearly didn’t get a chance because they inexplicably didn’t try to slow down LSU’s pass rush with a no huddle attack. Watch Tom Brady. When the pass rush is getting annoying, they go to a break neck pace. Why aren’t college teams doing this more?

Yet in the end, it was a wonderfully played, competently officiated and reviewed football game that ended on the last play. It showed us everything, the emotions that grip us to this silly game. Dabo Swinney picking up a sideline reporter and twirling her around out of pure glee brings us all back to why we started messing with sports in the first place...because they’re fun and create emotions that little else can possibly give.

I want mor footzballz like dat. Sorry, the cow got the computer again. Happy New Year, to any and all that read.