Chick-fil-A Bowl preview: LSU vs. Clemson
The 2012-13 college football postseason continues Monday night as LSU and Clemson collide in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Let's take a look at some of the most important aspects of this matchup between the Bayou Bengals and the ACC's Tigers.
LSU (10-2) vs. Clemson (10-2) at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
• Defending the dual-threat QB: Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd presents a very tough challenge for LSU's strong front seven. The junior dual-threat signal-caller threw for 3,550 yards and led the ACC with 34 touchdown passes this fall, but he was contained by South Carolina's aggressive front in the regular-season finale, specifically by star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Boyd completed less than 50 percent of his passes and threw two interceptions against the Gamecocks. Of course, LSU presents an equally dominant defensive front, so Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris has to be concerned about Boyd going up against ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo as well as tackle Bennie Logan. LSU has a deep line and will rotate to keep its players fresh, which could mean Boyd will be on the run. However, if he has time to throw, Boyd is an accomplished deep-ball passer, so John Chavis and his defense will need to be ready for talented Clemson receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins so they don't get behind the defense. In addition, running back Andre Ellington will be a force on the ground.
• Zach Attack: LSU fans are finally getting to see the Zach Mettenberger that they expected to see at the beginning of the season. The junior-college transfer struggled up until the Alabama game and finally came out of his shell against the Crimson Tide. We know that the Bayou Bengals will always be able to run the ball successfully, as they average almost 180 yards per game. But Mettenberger averaged over 265 yards per game through the air over the last four contests, and he'll be facing a Brent Venables defense that has been leaky throughout 2012, as the ACC's Tigers have allowed 22 passing touchdowns this year. LSU will remain a run-first operation offensively with Jeremy Hill, Kenny Hilliard, Spencer Ware and Michael Ford, but Mettenberger will have plenty of opportunities to air it out as well because the offensive staff trusts him. He only throws an interception once per every 55 attempts.
• The X-Factor: Remember Sammy Watkins? The Clemson receiver was on a lot of preseason Heisman Trophy Watch lists coming into this season after his outstanding freshman campaign last year, where he averaged over 175 all-purpose yards per game. His 2012 campaign began on a rough note, though, as he was suspended for the first two games and missed another contest because of a virus. He never could quite get going, but Clemson was able to rely on Hopkins to pick up the slack. But because of the time off between the regular-season finale and the bowl game, perhaps Watkins is re-focused and ready for a standout effort against a team that has BCS credentials.