Season Record: 9-3
Last Opponent: South Carolina (W 35-17)
Points Scored Per Game: 30.1 (Ranks 58th Nationally)
Points Allowed Per Game: 17.6 (Ranks 7th Nationally)
Last Meeting With Sooners: December 7, 2013 (L 33-24)
Opponent Blog: Shakin The Southland
The Tigers were dealt a significant blow on offense when freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson was put on the shelf following a surgical procedure to repair an injured knee. Stepping back into the starting role will be senior Cole Stoudt who has a 62% completion rate but also has a TD/INT ratio of 6/10.
Freshman receiver Artavis Scott (5-11/185) has been the "go to" guy in the Clemson passing game this season. He owns a team-high 68 receptions and 7 touchdowns. However, sophomore Mike Williams (6-3/205) has been the down field threat after averaging 19.1 yards per reception and a team-high 918 receiving yards.
You have think that the injury to Watson will prompt Clemson to rely a little more on their running game and that would put freshman Wayne Gallman (6-1/200) and junior C.J. Davidson (5-10/190) more into the spotlight. Gallman has a team-high 714 rushing yards and an average of 5 yards per carry. Davidson has less than half as many carries but provides a change of pace at 4 yards per carry.
The x-factor here may be the Tigers' offensive line. While they've done a very solid job at helping the running backs gain a decent average on the ground, they've also allowed a total of 23 quarterback sacks.
Clemson has been exceptional on defense this season. The 17.6 points per game allowed is tops in the ACC but they also lead the conference in yards allowed per game (259.6), passing yards allowed per game (161.9), and are third in rushing yards allowed per game (97.7).
Opposing quarterbacks are averaging a 50.4% completion rate against a Tigers defense that has given up 12 scores through the air this season but has also nabbed nine interceptions. On the ground opponents are averaging 2.8 yards per carry which is the lowest average in the ACC.
Senior linebacker Stephone Anthony (6-3/245) leads the team with 73 total tackles and also has 9.5 tackles for loss, which includes 2.5 sacks. The sack master for the Tigers is Vic Beasley (6-3/235) who has recorded 11 quarterback take downs this season. Eighteen Tiger defenders share a whopping 44 total quarterback sacks on the year. Six defenders share a total of nine interceptions on the season with three of them have two each.
In short, Oklahoma's ability to win this bowl game will come down to two things. 1) Run the football. If the Sooners can move the ball on the ground then they can, and will, control this game. 2) Force Clemson to play behind the chains. We'll get more into this later in the week but Oklahoma has to win first and second down and force Clemson away from the strength of their offense and into a down-field passing game.