|Bowl Game Preview: Music City Bowl|
|Written by TheSpread|
|Friday, 29 December 2006 03:31|
Public Bettors Picking Clemson Over Kentucky in The Music City Bowl
61% of Bets Placed on Clemson -10 | Matchup | CFB Picks
The Tigers hope they can shake off the poor finish to the regular season and win their third consecutive bowl game when they face Kentucky on Dec. 29 at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.
Oddsmakers have made Clemson -10 point spread favorites
Clemson (8-4) lost three of its last four games after a 7-1 start that included a 31-7 win over then-No. 13 Georgia Tech on Oct. 21. That win moved the Tigers to No. 10 in the poll, higher than any other ACC team and the program's best ranking in six years.
Consecutive losses at Virginia Tech and at home to Maryland saw the Tigers tumble out of the rankings before climbing back in at No. 25 after beating North Carolina State on Nov. 11. However, they dropped back out of the poll with a 31-28 home loss to in-state rival South Carolina to close the regular season, blowing a 14-point second-half lead before kicker Jad Dean missed a 39-yard field goal attempt with 13 seconds to play.
``I'm not happy with number of wins. I'm not happy with not winning the divisional championship,'' Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said. ``Fans disgruntled because we got so close? Good. That's the way it used to be. We're getting it back the way it used to be.''
The late-season struggles for the Tigers could be attributed to a faltering rushing attack, even though sophomore James Davis and freshman C.J. Spiller combined to run for 2,048 yards and 27 touchdowns this season.
The team ran for an average of 156.8 yards over the last four games, more than 100 below its average during the 7-1 start. Clemson has 31 rushing touchdowns this season, but only four in the final four games while its per-carry average went down nearly two yards.
Davis led the Tigers with 1,134 rushing yards and 17 TDs, but has only 173 yards and one score in four games since rushing for a season-high 216 against Georgia Tech. Spiller did his best to pick up the slack over the final two games, averaging 11.0 yards per carry as he rushed for 309 yards and three touchdowns.
The young backfield might be the key against a Kentucky run defense that allowed an SEC-high 189.0 rushing yards per game.
The Tigers do not rely nearly as much on Will Proctor and the passing game. The senior quarterback did throw for 2,081 yards this season, but had four interceptions and only two TD passes over the final four games.
Clemson is 16-13 all-time in bowls, including a 19-10 win over Colorado at the Champs Sports Bowl last year after failing to qualify for the postseason in 2004.
Clemson defeated Kentucky 14-13 in the 1993 Peach Bowl - the last meeting between the schools. The Wildcats hold a 7-4 series lead over the Tigers.
``I don't know that much about Kentucky at this time, but I know Kentucky's offense is one of the best in the nation when it comes to the passing game,'' Bowden said. ``They have the top quarterback in the SEC in terms of total offense in Andre' Woodson. This will be a challenge for our team. Kentucky won four of its last five games and won four games in the SEC, which is a very good conference.''
Clemson cornerback Duane Coleman will miss this game because of his arrest on a marijuana possession charge on Dec. 20.
Kentucky (7-5) is making its first bowl appearance since 1999, when it lost 20-13 to Syracuse in the Music City Bowl.
``We just can't relax now and say we've made it to postseason and we've reached a goal,'' said Kentucky coach Rich Brooks, who agreed to a contract extention Friday after guiding the Wildcats back to the postseason. ``We want to win this thing.''
Brooks led the Wildcats to a winning record for the first time in his four seasons as coach. They were 3-8 last year.
Much of the success centers on the development of Woodson, who led the SEC with 3,216 passing yards and 28 touchdowns while throwing only seven interceptions in his second season as the starter.
The junior struggled in 2005, throwing for 1,644 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions in 11 games.
Keenan Burton has benefited most from Woodson's progress. The junior receiver has 72 catches for 1,006 yards and 12 touchdowns. He combined for 46 receptions, 599 yards and four scores over the previous three seasons.
The duo will be challenged by a stingy Clemson defense that ranked 15th in the nation in scoring defense (15.2 ppg) and passing yards allowed (166.8 per game).
``It won't be hard for us to understand what we have to do and understand our motivation,'' Burton said. ``This is our next game and that is important and regardless of who it is or where it is we have to be ready to play.''
Both teams are expected to be well-supported at the sold-out, 69,143-seat LP Stadium, home to the NFL's Tennessee Titans. This is the first Music City Bowl sellout since the inaugural game in 1998, when it was held at the smaller Vanderbilt Stadium.
by: Anthony White - theSpread.com - Email Us
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