Clemson and Iowa State. Two teams that have never faced one another and two teams that failed to live up to lofty expectations in 2021.
This isn’t a playoff matchup, nor is it even a NY6 game, but it just might end up being one of the better bowl games this season. These are two fairly evenly matched teams, both of which play strong defense.
After a brutal start to the season, the Clemson offense finally started to get going over the final few games. But it must be pointed out the defenses they were facing were pretty bad in Wake Forest and South Carolina.
If the Tigers are going to win, it is an absolute must for Will Shipley and Kobe Pace to have big games on the ground. Clemson needs to control the clock and keep Brock Purdy off the field. The Cyclones were the best passing offense in the Big 12.
They can also play a little defense, as Iowa State finished tenth in the nation overall and second in the Big 12. The way DJ Uiagalelei has struggled to consistently throw the ball down the field, and with how injury ravaged the Tigers are at receiver, the Cyclones will have the luxury of being able to key on the run.
The 3-3-5 look that Iowa State likes to throw at opponents is something Clemson has struggled with this season. In all three of their losses, the opponent employed a 3-man front on the defensive side of the ball. That does not bode well for Clemson.
Breece Hall, Iowa State’s elite-level running back, opted out, meaning Clemson caught a break there. His backup, Jirehl Brock, is talented but young. He rushed for just over 200 yards this season, and the Tigers have been stout against the run.
At the end of the day, when two team appear to be so evenly matched, look to the quarterbacks. Which team has the better one? Purdy is a wily veteran and Uiagalelei is still young, has been inconsistent and is nowhere near healthy.
This is a big game for Iowa State. While the Tigers might have finished 9-3, this is still Clemson. In the eyes of the Cyclones, this is an opportunity to make a statement.
Reports all week have suggested this Clemson team is very loose. That they’re having fun. While that might very well be the case, the Tigers are still going through a major transition and are just plain beat up.
Iowa State 16 Clemson 13
Sam Clemons: I’m excited! I’m looking at the articles regarding the tone and energy of this team and coaches and I’m a believer. In researching Iowa State, they’re season has been an up and down battle, they underwhelmed and like the Tigers, fell short of expectations.
I believe the betting line of Clemson -1.5 proves Vegas and just about everybody is calling this first-time meeting between the two teams a toss-up. I suspect that won’t be the case. Clemson has little trouble corralling the Cyclones’ offense and the Tigers’ offense will show signs of rejuvenation.
Clemson 35 Iowa State 17
Freddie Huth: I, after seeing the recent news regarding bowl games, am even more excited to see the Tigers finish this bowl season the way they finished the regular season…strong. Over the last half of the season Clemson, by far, has played their best football and that is why I expect them to be able to win their first ever matchup with the Cyclones.
Clemson 34 Iowa State 21
Ted Jackson: Bowl games between teams that have never played each other can be very unpredictable. Clemson doesn’t have much of an aerial attack this year so they need to have a solid ground game. This makes for an interesting matchup and that’s why Vegas has a betting line of only Clemson -1.5 points. This game could go either way, and the team who commits fewer mistakes will likely win. Clemson’s surge the last quarter of the season should give them the edge.
Clemson 24 Iowa State 19
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