Fanpicks.com College Football Bowl Game Preview
CAPITAL ONE ORANGE BOWL
Clemson vs. Oklahoma
Fanpicks.com is proud to bring you the Orange Bowl game preview featuring all powerful Clemson against Oklahoma. This bowl game will be exciting to watch Clemson topping Oklahoma 45-40. Play the best fantasy college football contests at Fanpicks.com
Top-ranked Clemson is the lone remaining unbeaten squad and fourth-ranked Oklahoma has reeled off seven straight victories as they enter their College Football Playoff semifinal clash in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 31 at Miami Gardens, Fla. The Tigers are bidding for their first national championship since going 12-0 in 1981, while the Sooners are chasing their first national title since going 13-0 in 2000. Oklahoma’s lone loss came to Texas on Oct. 10, while Clemson has won 16 consecutive games since losing to Georgia Tech in mid-November of the 2014 campaign.
There is no disputing the notion that the top two quarterbacks in the country are playing in this contest as Clemson sophomore Deshaun Watson finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting and Oklahoma junior Baker Mayfield placed fourth with the top two finishers both being running back. Watson is an all-around nightmare for defensive coordinators as he has passed for 3,512 yards and 30 touchdowns and rushed for 887 yards and 11 scores while Mayfield has passed for 3,389 yards and 35 touchdowns while rushing for 420 yards and seven scores. “I think he’s exceptional,” Sooners coach Bob Stoops told reporters of Watson. “What a great athlete – thrower, runner, everything. I really have a great respect and appreciation for what a quality player he is.”
One aspect both teams are downplaying is that Clemson put a 40-6 thumping on the Sooners in last season’s Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla. Watson missed the game with a knee injury and Oklahoma committed five turnovers and was never in the contest but Tigers coach Dabo Swinney has been insisting that nobody should be bringing up that game. “That just absolutely has nothing to do with this year,” Swinney told reporters. “They’re playing as good as anybody in the country right now, maybe the best of anybody in the country, so we know they’ll be fired up to play us.”
OKLAHOMA Season Overview (11-1, 8-1 Big 12): The Sooners have averaged 52 points during their seven-game winning streak as senior receiver Sterling Shepard and sophomore running back Samaje Perine complement Mayfield’s prowess. Shepard has 79 receptions for 1,201 yards and 11 touchdown catches and ranks second in school history in receptions (226) and receiving yardage (3,395) while Perine has rushed for 1,291 yards and 15 touchdowns and has 3,004 career rushing yards to join Adrian Peterson (2004-05) as the only players to top 3,000 in their first two seasons as Sooners. Oklahoma allows 20.8 points per game and boasts solid players in senior outside linebacker Eric Striker (team-high 16 tackles for losses and 7.5 sacks), junior cornerback Zack Sanchez (team-leading six interceptions), sophomore cornerback Jordan Thomas (five interceptions), junior inside linebacker Dominique Alexander (team-best 91 tackles) and senior defensive end Charles Tapper (seven sacks).
CLEMSON Season Overview (13-0, 8-0 ACC): The Tigers are hoping standout sophomore receiver Artavis Scott (84 receptions, 805 yards) will be in top shape by the bowl game after he underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair meniscus cartilage in his right knee earlier this month. Sophomore running back Wayne Gallman has been superb with 1,332 yards and 10 touchdowns and is 14 yards shy of surpassing the school mark set by Raymond Priester in 1996. Clemson allows 20.2 points per game with standout junior defensive end Shaq Lawson delivering a dominating season – he has a team-best 9.5 sacks and leads the nation with 22.5 tackles for losses – while senior middle linebacker B.J. Goodson (team-high 91 tackles), junior cornerback Condrea Tankersley (team-leading five interceptions) and junior defensive end Kevin Dodd (eight sacks) also are having strong campaigns.