In the Russell Athletic Bowl, set to kickoff on Monday, December 29th at 4:30 PM CST, one quarterback must take over after struggling throughout the season while the other continues to recuperate from an injury. That puts the focus firmly on the rushing attack of each squad. Looking into the game, two freshman running backs square off with the hope of generating enough offense to secure a win. Ultimately, the program capable of picking up the tough yards likely comes out ahead when the clock hits zeroes. The only question that remains is: which team will that be? Let's take a look at what the numbers have to say.
|Samaje Perine||vs||Clemson's Run Defense|
|6.58||Yards Per Carry||2.78|
|131.58||Yards Per Game||97.67|
Oklahoma's Samaje Perine burst onto the scene with a 242 yard performance against West Virginia and never looked back. A powerful runner who possesses the vision and patience necessary to succeed on the D-I level, Perine cemented himself as a vital part of the Sooner offense. With Trevor Knight returning from an injury, the coach staff looks to balance out the offense once again. However, that does not dismiss the fact that OU failed to convert crucial third downs in multiple games this season. That's where the talented running back comes in. With an experienced offensive line, Perine should be able to take pressure off of Knight while milking the clock and chewing up yards.
Unfortunately for the youngster, the rushing attack faces a more than capable defense on the ground.
On the other side of the equation, Clemson's physical and athletic defensive front has all the necessary tools to slow down their opposition. They'll certainly look to rattle the quarterback early and force third and long situation all evening to eliminate Perine from the game plan. It starts with stopping the run but it's a much easier task said than done. The Vic Beasley led defense can hopefully come up with a few turnovers to walk away with a win over a nationally branded program in the pocket.
|Wayne Gallman||vs||Oklahoma's Run Defense|
|5.03||Yards Per Carry||3.16|
|59.50||Yards Per Game||109.58|
After the final regular season game, up and coming quarterback Deshaun Watson underwent surgery to repair a partially torn ACL. The decision thrust a less than impressive backup, Cole Stoudt, into the starting role. Regardless of how good the defense has been, Clemson must rely on the offense to put up a few points in order to being home some hardware from Orlando. Enter Wayne Gallman who came alive during the second half of the season with three 100+ yard performances. The coaching staff needs the running back to continue in recent success while taking pressure off the quarterback and providing the defense with a breather every now and then.
Oklahoma's Eric Striker has made a name for himself in the backfield but he's not the only threat to keep in mind. Mixing up looks should provide a hand up after the coaching turnover at Clemson. Don't expect a scheme built around Stoudt though. If the pass rush consistently meets the ball carrier in the backfield or extends plays to the sideline for little to no gain, this could turn into a long night for the opponent.