Russell Athletic Bowl Preview

Can the vaunted Tigers defense contain the powerful Sooners offense in this one? Photo Courtesy: Russell Athletic Bowl Facebook page
Can the vaunted Tigers defense contain the powerful Sooners offense in this one?
Photo Courtesy: Russell Athletic Bowl Facebook page

By Craig Fields

Game Info
Oklahoma Sooners vs. (17) Clemson Tigers
Monday – December 29 – 4:30 pm
Florida Citrus Bowl – Orlando

Reasons to Watch
Oklahoma versus Clemson? Are you kidding me? If you need a reason to watch this game then you are not a true fan of college football. It’s the classic tale of a great defense going up against a great offense. There have been some great games that have gone down in the Russell Athletic Bowl and this game will be no different. On top of that, current Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables spent 1999-2011 on the Sooner sideline as a defensive coordinator. This will be the first time since joining the Tigers sideline that Venables will be going against his former program.

Clemson Tigers
The Clemson Tigers have been offensively challenged at times this year and rank 57th in the country in total offense. But one thing that has remained relatively constant is the hard-nosed play of their defense. Venables has a group of guys and talented seniors sprinkled throughout their defense that allows them to play with a level of control, consistency and discipline more often than not. They give up the sixth least amount of points in the country at 17.6 and is number one in the country in total defense. To say that the Sooners will have a hard time moving the ball just might be an understatement here.

On the offensive side of the ball, some of the inconsistencies offensively can be blamed on the revolving door at the quarterback position. When teams tend to play two or more quarterbacks in a season, records and expectations tend to worsen throughout the season. Luckily for the Tigers, they have two quarterbacks that are pretty good and capable of running an offense. Senior quarterback Cole Stoudt and true freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson might both make an appearance and that could bode well for the Tigers if the Sooners have not properly game planned for both.

Oklahoma Sooners
The Oklahoma Sooners, however, rank 53rd in the country in total defense and give up about 25 points a game. This defense gives up yards. That is the jist of it. They have a sort of bend but don’t break play style on defense that has bit them on the butt a few times this season. But hey, you can afford to be somewhat pedestrian on defense when you have an offense that is so explosive.

The Sooners offense ranks 11th in the country in scoring at almost 39 per game and average about 270 yards rushing per contest. They also rank 83rd in the country in passing offense so you know that they want to keep the ball on the ground as much as they can. True freshman Samaje Perine played his tail off this season. Allow me to blurt out a few stats if you will. Perine rushed for 1,579 yards on 240 carries for a whopping 21 touchdowns and a 6.6 rush per carry average. Simply put, the kid is a beast and will be looking to exploit Clemson’s tough front seven behind an equally as tough Sooner offensive line. This game may be as good or possibly better than one of the playoff games.

At the end of the day, the old adage goes that defense wins championships. So for this game I’m going with…
Clemson Tigers 21 – Oklahoma Sooners 17