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2006 Music City Bowl - Clemson vs. Kentucky
Posted Dec 14, 2006

Clemson vs. Kentucky - 2006 Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl.

Clemson (8-4) vs. Kentucky (7-5)

Dec. 29th, 1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

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Music City Bowl Player Profile: Kentucky QB Andre Woodson, team bowl history and more

Every bowl season has at least one game pitting a disappointed team with no real interest against a team jacked up to be playing anywhere. This could easily be it.

Halfway through the season, Clemson was being considered one of the best teams that probably wasn't going to win a conference title after running over Georgia Tech in a 31-7 win to go 7-1. The Tigers beat eventual ACC champion Wake Forest, beat Florida State back when that meant something, and only lost to Boston College in a double overtime thriller.

And then ... thud.

National Rankings
Clemson Kentucky
Total Offense
13th  411.67 ypg 37th  372.5 ypg
Total Defense
12th  270.08 ypg 118th  457.67 ypg
Scoring Offense
9th  33.75 ppg 45th  26.58 ppg
Scoring Defense
15th  15.17 ppg 101st  29.08 ppg
Run Offense
5th  225.17 ypg 101st  98.5 ypg
Run Defense
20th  103.33 ypg 111th  189 ypg
Pass Offense
74th  186.5 ypg 9th  274 ypg
Pass Defense
15th  166.75 ypg 118th  268.67 ypg
Turnover Margin
41st  0.33 5th  1.08
Fa Atlantic W 54-6
at B Coll L 34-33 OT
at Fla St W 27-20
No Carolina
W 52-7
La Tech W 51-0
at W For. W 27-17
at Temple W 63-9
Ga Tech W 31-7
at Va Tech L 24-7
L 13-12
NC State W 20-14
So Carolina
L 31-28
at Louisville L 59-28
Texas State W 41-7
Ole Miss W 31-14
at Florida L 26-7
Central Mich W 45-36
So Carolina L 24-17
at LSU L 49-0
at Miss St W 34-31
Georgia W 24-20
Vanderbilt W 38-26
UL Monroe
W 42-40
at Tenn. L 17-12
Position Ratings
relative to each other
C 5 highest
1 lowest
3.5 Quarterbacks 4.5
5 RBs 3.5
3.5 Receivers 4.5
4.5 O Line 3.5
4 D Line 2.5
4 Linebackers 2.5
4.5 Secondary 1.5
4 Spec Teams 3.5
4 Coaching 4

Virginia Tech dominated the Tigers 24-7 setting off a run of three losses in the final four games including a 31-28 loss to archrival South Carolina. Outside of the Hokie beatdown, Clemson lost three games by a grand total of five points and ended up in what its fans consider a minor league bowl.

Contrast Clemson with Kentucky, who hasn't been to a bowl since 1999 and appeared to be in a holding pattern until the Rice Brooks era came to an end. After a 3-4 start, it appeared to be yet another ho-hum, forgettable year to pass the time until basketball season began, but a win over Georgia, as part of a four-game winning streak in the easy part of the schedule, got the Wildcats a 13th game providing a spark of hope for the future of the program.

Now Kentucky is a hot, exciting team with a big-time passing game and a quarterback in Andre Woodson who became good enough to consider leaving early for the NFL. A thrilling offense, and no defense whatsoever, made Wildcat games as fun to watch, in a sort of perverse way at times, as any in the SEC. UK became the team no one wanted to face.

Clemson is the far better team on both sides of the ball with one of the nation's most devastating running attacks and a stifling defense that held teams to just 270 yards and 15 points per game. Now it's about attitude. If the Tigers are pumped up, focused, and interested in making a statement, they should be able to win without too much of a problem. If they spend their time dreaming of more prestigious bowls, UK has the ability to pull off the upset.

Is this a case of a flat team about to get tagged, or has there been so much talk of an upset that Clemson will overcome and come in motivated? These are two fun young teams that should be even stronger next year and have the potential to put on a good offensive show.

Players to watch: Andre Woodson went from being in a quarterback battle to becoming an All-SEC star throwing for 3,216 yards and 28 touchdowns with seven interceptions with only one game, the 49-0 loss to LSU, without a scoring pass. At 6-5 and close to 250 pounds, he's a big bomber who's getting better by the week with good accuracy and decision-making skills. When given a little bit of time, he can pick apart most secondaries.

Out to make sure Woodson doesn't get comfortable is Clemson DE Gaines Adams, who made just about everyone's All-America team and will be a top ten pick in the 2007 draft. Demanding double teams on every play, big enough to play end and fast enough to be an outside linebacker, he's a terror at getting into the backfield and an all-around playmaker against the run. With all the focus on him, the rest of the line should shine.

Offensively, Clemson's lightning fast rushing tandem of C.J. Spiller and James Davis should be too much for the Wildcats to handle. With the time off before the bowl, Davis, who led the team in rushing and finished with 17 touchdowns on the year, has been able to rest the injured shoulder that limited him over the final four games of the year after tearing off 216 yards and two scores against Georgia Tech. Spiller picked up the slack with 154 yards against NC State and 155 against South Carolina, and has the ability to carry the entire offense, but he won't have to.

Kentucky has a decent running game, but to have a shot, it needs Woodson and junior WR Keenan Burton to match the Tiger offense point for point. Burton was finally able to stay healthy and showed what he could do with a 72-catch, 1,006-yard, 12 touchdown season with nine scores in a late four game span. If nothing else, the attention Clemson will have to pay to Burton should open things up for tight end Jacob Tamme and speedy receiver Dicky Lyons.

Kentucky will win if... it bombs away early and takes the fight out of the Tigers. Clemson isn't just going to quit, but energy level in a game like this might mean everything. With questions in the Clemson secondary after the arrest of top corner Duane Coleman for marijuana possession forcing several young players to get more work, UK should have several options to throw to. C.J. Gaddis will likely take Burton as much as possible, so if Woodson can get a little time and make the right reads, he should be successful.

Clemson will win if... it controls the game with the ground attack. Even if Kentucky gets up early and the offense is working, Clemson can't get away from the running the ball, running the ball, and running the ball some more. The big Tiger offensive line should wear on the smallish UK defensive front that lacks proven depth. Either Clemson will run well early, or it'll start to hit home runs late by springing Spiller and Davis. Kentucky has the nation's second-worst defense for a reason.

What will happen: Kentucky has had a great season becoming one of the SEC's better stories, but now the clock will strike midnight. The Tiger running game will roll for well over 300 yards keeping Woodson and the Wildcat offense off the field. UK will get its share of big plays on punt returns and through the air, but the defense will be too porous. Don't forget about the efficient Clemson passing game which shouldn't have a problem keeping the chains moving.

Line: Clemson -10 ... CFN Prediction: Clemson 38 ... Kentucky 20

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