ACC Bowl Preview #4

Dec. 17, 2010

December 31st – Meineke Car Care Bowl
Clemson (6-6) vs. South Florida (7-5), 12 p.m.

Once again, the Meineke Car Care Bowl has selected a relative local team again from the ACC for its game. When December 5th rolled around, it was pretty clear that it was either going to be Clemson or NC State in Charlotte on New Year’s Eve. Once the Wolfpack were selected for the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Clemson was Charlotte’s choice. The Tiger fans also flooded the e-mail inbox of bowl director Will Webb pledging their participation if Clemson was chosen.

Clemson limped to the close of the regular season, losing three of its last five games. In the process, QB Kyle Parker was lifted in the second half of the finale against South Carolina, when the Tigers posted just 251 yards of offense, in a 29-7 home loss to the in-state rival.

Parker is the likely starter against South Florida in Charlotte, but I doubt Dabo Swinney will be hesitant to use sophomore Tahj Boyd, if he needs to. Boyd is the likely starter in 2011, and therefore would get every chance to show his wares against USF.

If Clemson is going to win this game, it is likely to do it on defense, where the Tigers lead the ACC in scoring defense (17.8) and were ninth nationally. The Tigers are third in the ACC and 23rd nationally in total defense (323.8).

South Florida is in a bowl game for the sixth straight year. The Bulls have seen each of their last six games decided by eight points or less, including their finale against UConn. The Bulls will need to put something on the board early to force Clemson’s hand on offense. If they can’t get anything going, watch the Tigers grind the game down.

DE Da’Quan Bowers and the Tiger defense is plenty good to win the game on their own, but can’t afford a sloppy series that would then put pressure on their offense, which struggled late.

— Wes Durham

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