In one of the more impressive performances of the season, the Deshaun Watson completed 14-of-19 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns for the Clemson Tigers against South Carolina. Adding to it, Watson rushed for two more touchdowns during the duration of the game. Why was it so impressive? The young quarterback completed the feat with a partially torn ACL!
Later, head coach Dabo Swinney revealed plans for Watson to play in the bowl game then have surgery. However, the coach quickly changed his mind knowing the future of a star quarterback was at risk.
Russell Athletic Bowl | A Comprehensive History
The Oklahoma Sooners will be making their first ever appearance in the Orlando based Russell Athletic Bowl and so it's natural for fans to not know a whole lot about their postseason hosts.
"We are going to make a decision. We might go ahead and do surgery and try to get a three-week head start on his rehab" said Swinney. "He has a good eight months of rehab and we want him available for skills and drills this summer. So we will make a decision on that. We will make a decision on that in the next day or so." - CUTigers.com
The decision has now come in per reports from The Post and Courier ruling Watson out for the Russell Athletic Bowl. In a change of events the true freshman will undergo surgery on Friday to repair the torn ACL in hopes of returning for the summer. As one would expect, the surgery will have a direct influence on the outcome of the bowl game. For Clemson, the quarterback proved to be one of the most effective players on the field completing 69.2% of passes. Add to it complimentary stats of 14 touchdowns to two interceptions and a playmaker is born. Simply put, this kid on makes those around him better.
It should be noted that Clemson University has yet to officially make the announcement.
Now, senior quarterback, Cole Stoudt, enters the bowl season as the starter. On the season Stoudt has completed 62% of his passes while collecting 1573 yards along with six touchdowns to ten interceptions.
Needless to say, the odds are about to change as well.
According to the Vegas Insider, the Russell Athletic Bowl which pits Oklahoma (8-4, 5-4 Big 12) against Clemson (9-3, 6-2 ACC) in Orlando opened as a straight up pick 'em. Clearly, the odds makers predict this one to be a close and bitter battle as it appears to be strength on the strength match up. The Sooners boast one of the nation's premier rushing attacks averaging 268.6 yards per game to score 38.9 points each outing. On the opposing side of the field, the Tigers possess the nation's top defense allowing a mere 259.6 total yards per contest while racking up 44 sacks and 122 tackles for loss.
With Stoudt taking over the starting roll for the Tigers, the odds likely swing into the Oklahoma Sooners favor. But, do not mistake that to mean the win will come easy if at all due to the stout defense of Clemson.