The LSU Tigers and the Clemson Tigers will meet on the evening of New Year’s Eve to compete for this year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl in Georgia. This match-up is being touted as high powered offense versus stingy defense. Clemson’s offense averaged 42.3 points per game this season which was good for 4th in the nation. But LSU’s defense has allowed an average of just 16.9 points per game this season which ranks them at 11th in the nation.

LSU finished the season ranked 8th in the BCS standings and Clemson finished at 14th in the standings. In this game LSU is the favorite to win by a 5 point spread and an over/under of 59 points.

Those odds provide a score of 32-27 in favor of LSU. This seems slightly generous to Clemson as they have been allowing an average of 24.9 points a game this season. While the game is being touted as LSU’s defense against Clemson’s offense, the odds makers must think the more important story is LSU’s offense over Clemson’s defense.

Clemson’s offense has six players that were named to the all-ACC first team this season. Led by QB Tajh Boyd, who can pass and run for TDs, the Clemson offense also boasts in RB Andre Ellington who was second in the ACC for rushing yards and WR DeAndre Hopkins who was named to the third team All-American squad. However, when you look at who each team played this season you see that LSU had a relatively tougher schedule. LSU faced Florida, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Alabama; they went 2-2 against these teams. Against teams that finished with a top ten ranking LSU scored an average of just 17.5 points but allowed an average of only 18.8 points. Clemson played just two ranked team and lost both games. Clemson lost to Florida State 49-37 and lost to South Carolina 27-17. Therefore maybe everyone should be considering whether Clemson’s defense can stop ranked opponents.

To add more perspective, South Carolina allows an average of 17.4 points a game; that’s what Clemson scored against them. LSU beat South Carolina 23-21. Or consider that LSU beat Texas A&M 24-19 and yet at end of season Texas A&M is the 3rd best scoring offense in the nation averaging 44.8 points a game.

LSU’s highest scoring game total, against an end of season ranked opponent, was 44 points. It seems hard to believe that the Clemson or LSU defenses will let this game get up to 59 points. But it does make sense that LSU can win this game. They have beaten or narrowly lost to the top teams in the nation. Clemson cannot say that of their selves. LSU scored an average of 30.3 points a game this season. Clemson’s defense has allowed an average of 24.9 points a game but they allowed more against top opponents. LSU should be able to get their season average as predicted by the odds makers but they could go even higher as Clemson’s defense tends to give up more points to better teams than their average. Clemson does have a lot of talent on offense so they will score, but a 5 point spread is probably too little. LSU’s experience against tough competition should mean they can cover the spread.

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