The 2012-2013 Bowl Blitz Invitational presented by STAT BOX STORIES continues with the Chick-fil-A Bowl, which matches up the LSU Tigers (10-2, 6-2 SEC) and Clemson Tigers (10-2, 7-1 ACC). Jordan Searles of the EA SPORTS Game Changers program contributes this Tiger-versus-Tiger showdown between two schools who lay claim to the name of “Death Valley” for their home field advantage.
Clemson wins battle of the Tigers, dispatches LSU in Chick-fil-A Bowl without offensive TD
Atlanta, G.A. – The Georgia Dome was rocking, packed with fans eager to see if the Chick-fil-A Bowl could provide any sense of closure to the debate of which Tigers prowl the strongest, and which school holds the truest Death Valley. On the strength of two defensive touchdowns, a special teams touchdown, and a field goal, the Clemson Tigers prevailed over the SEC’s LSU Tigers, 24-17.
A quiet first quarter passed without any points on the board, but the game really ramped up in the second quarter. LSU broke open the scoring with a 31-yard field goal with 4:11 remaining in the first half, and just under a minute later Clemson responded with a 59-yard interception return by CB #17. LSU came across more difficulty with 1:24 left in the first half, as CB #14 of Clemson snatched another interception and took it 79 yards for a touchdown and a 14-3 halftime lead.
Clemson continued their scoring ways early in the third quarter with another return touchdown, this time on a 106-yard kickoff return for touchdown by WR #2. That took the lead to 21-3 for the ACC squad, and LSU was on legitimate upset watch for certain. With 2:09 remaining in the third quarter, Clemson scored their first points on an offensive drive: a 25-yard field goal by K #39 to go up 24-3.
After being kept out of the end zone for the first three quarters, LSU finally found paydirt early in the fourth quarter on a 4-yard pass from QB #8 to TE #83 to cut the lead to 24-10 and bring back some hope to the Bayou faithful. Unfortunately for the SEC Tigers, LSU would not score again until 1:12 remaining in the game on a 27-yard pass from QB #8 to WR #21, bringing the deficit to a single touchdown.
LSU had one final chance to try and tie the game up and send it into overtime, but QB #8 threw another interception in the end zone which allowed Clemson to kneel out the clock and take away the most unlikely of victories: a Chick-fil-A Bowl win without a single true offensive score.
Player of the Game: Clemson WR #2, who scored the game-winning touchdown for the Tigers on a 106-yard kickoff return and, in all, contributed 131 yards on kickoff returns.
It was over when… LSU threw their fourth interception of the game after driving nearly the entire length of the field with no timeouts and less than two minutes remaining in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. The potential tying touchdown was denied following a heads-up play by CB #21 in the back of the end zone, sealing a win for Clemson and allowing the offense to simply kneel and run the remainder of the clock to zero.
Game Ball goes to… WR #2 – While offensively a non-factor (catching only a single pass for ten yards), WR #2 began the second half with an explosive kick return touchdown to put LSU on the brink early and Clemson up 21-3. This changed the tone of the game completely, as LSU was forced to pass into a Clemson secondary which had already returned two interceptions by halftime. This cushion allowed the Tigers (Clemson) to pin their ears back without fear of the run, though LSU’s ground game was not threatening to heat up regardless.
Stat of the Game: All six of Clemson QB #10’s completions were caught by six different receivers. While not exactly a telling stat in that format, being that no player caught the ball more than once just shows how little Clemson’s offense affected the outcome of this game. This game was complete proof of the old adage that defense does indeed win Chick-fil-A Bowls, or something like that.
Statistical Tidbits: Despite their win, Clemson was outgained 337-126 on offense. … Neither team rushed for more than 37 yards, and Clemson only managed 93 passing yards. LSU, on the other hand, threw for exactly 300 yards and 2 touchdowns. … LSU converted 6 out of 10 third down attempts, while Clemson was only successful converting 2 out of 8 third down attempts. … LSU threw four interceptions, while Clemson did not turn the ball over. … Clemson had 131 kickoff return yards compared to LSU’s 22 yards. … LSU WR #86 caught 5 passes for 101 yards, but did not manage to score a touchdown.