Run The Ball
The Clemson Tigers have given up 14 rushing touchdowns all season long. Ranking 23rd nationally against the run, the defensive front seven surrendered 3.7 yards per carry and 128.8 yards per game. Lining up against one of the most difficult rushing attacks to defend in college football, the Tigers held Georgia Tech to 1.69 yards per carry and a mere 71 yards at the conclusion of the contest. The mark remains a far cry from the 256.2 average the Yellow Jackets have posted all year long. When forcing opponents to throw the ball, Clemson has looked dominant. However, they've not seen a duo like Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon.
Staring the year at a turtle like pace on the ground, the Oklahoma Sooners attempted to break in a new and inexperienced offensive line. Midway through the season, something clicked as the rushing attack ran wild. Ranking 15th nationally, the Sooners rack up 235 yards per game. Despite the label of "air-raid offense," Oklahoma has run the ball far more times than the quarterback has thrown it. If you're counting, OU has 541 rushing attempts to 396 passing attempts through twelve games. With the power of Perine, the versatility of Mixon, and the improvement along the offensive line, the Sooners must continue to find success in a portion of the game once considered a weakness if they hope to down Clemson.
Protect The Ball
Ball security remains a top priority week in and week out. The emphasis on the subject will be magnified with a spot in the national championship up for grabs. This season, the Sooners have lost nine fumbles and seven interceptions. On the flip side of the equation, the Tigers have recovered nine fumbles and have grabbed 14 interceptions. Given a short field and the talent on the offensive side of the ball, Clemson can and will make an opponent pay for a turnover. Simply put, one monumental turnover could easily affect the outcome of the game as we've seen in the past.
Win The Line Of Scrimmage
Last but certainly not least, Oklahoma must win the line of scrimmage if they hope to extend the season. Clemson possesses one of, if not the best defensive lines the Sooners will have faced. Juniors Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd wreak havoc in the back field combining for 37.5 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks. Backing up the line, B.J. Goodson and Ben Boulware have racked up another 21 tackles for loss. Identifying pass rushers along with picking up blitzes will buy Baker Mayfield time when attempting to pass. All hopes and dreams of claiming national title number eight are riding on the play at the line of scrimmage.