Match-up: Clemson (ACC) Vs. Oklahoma (Big 12)
Spread: Oklahoma (-4.0)
Location: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida
When: Thursday, December 31st, 4:00 PM
Where to Watch: ESPN
Could things have gone better for Clemson this season? Well, according to their record, no. It was simple really, Deshaun Watson, the highly touted Sophomore, managed to stay healthy. Clemson rolled through all of their opponents, mostly with ease. Florida State, Notre Dame, and UNC all gave Clemson some troubles, but the Tigers always found a way to win. Their only “bad” game was against Louisville, which they still won 20-17. There isn’t too much to say… They earned their spot at #1.
Players to Watch
Wayne Gallman (RB) – We all know how good Watson is; I mean, he was a Heisman finalist. But Gallman rarely gets enough credit. He rushed for 1332 yards on 5.5 YPC with 10 TDs. The Sophomore was a large reason for why Clemson ranked 22nd in the nation in rushing. What a terrifying young core they have.
Shaw Lawson (DE) – The Junior end has been an absolute force all season long. He didn’t exactly stuff the stat sheet with tackles, but he managed 9.5 sacks over the course of the season against some very talented offensive lines. He was voted as the ACC defensive player of the year, and will likely be a high draft pick in this year’s NFL draft if he declares.
How Clemson Can Win
Clemson has to find a way to contain Baker Mayfield if they want to win this game. Mayfield has been one of the most polarizing athletes in all of College Football this season; he has a keen ability to make something out of nothing. In order to stop him, Clemson will have to stop the rejuvenated Semaje Perine, who has been playing very well lately. This is a loaded Oklahoma offense. Stop the run, control the clock, and Clemson can win this game.
Baker Mayfield took the nation by storm this year for Bob Stoops and the Sooners. The transfer from Texas Tech was hyped before the season started, yet he still managed to shatter expectations. Oklahoma ran through the Big 12, making it look easy against teams like Baylor, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, and Kansas State. They even managed some great comebacks, including one at Tennessee in one of the most hostile environments I saw this season. Unfortunately, there’s one glaring blemish… An unexplainable loss to Texas. Nobody really knows how they lost that game… Texas has been awful all season. If not for that, Oklahoma might have been the #1 team this season. There’s a reason they are favored in this game.
Players to Watch
Semaje Perine (RB) – Sensing a theme? EVERYBODY knows how great these quarterbacks are. But like Gallman, Perine doesn’t get enough credit. 1291 Yards. 6.1 YPC. 16 total touchdowns. He’ll play a huge role in this game. He also happens to be jacked… Just a side note. It will only make Oklahoma that much scarier if they can establish a running game.
Eric Striker (LB) – As good as this offense is, Eric Striker is an absolute beast. He’s 4th on the team in tackles with 61, and 16 of those were for losses. He also managed 7.5 sacks, 1 interception, and 3 passes deflected. No surprise that the Senior was invited to the Senior Bowl and was voted first team All Big 12. He’ll look to improve his draft stock here.
How Oklahoma Can Win
Stop Deshaun Watson. Again, sensing a trend? These two teams are very similar. I should really just say this… PLAY A BETTER FOOTBALL GAME. Both teams have dynamic quarterbacks, underrated rushing attacks, and great defenses. I hate to sound generic but… It all comes down to execution.
Final Score Prediction: Clemson Wins 45-40
Photo Credit: http://www.foxsports.com/southwest/story/oklahoma-qb-baker-mayfield-to-be-featured-on-espn-092215