The Clemson Tigers have come in as the favorites in the Music City Bowl.
The Kentucky Wildcats out of the SEC will meet the Clemson Tigers out of the ACC in the Music City Bowl on Sunday, the lone bowl game of the day. Clemson have come in as the favorite with BetUS:
NCAA Football Bowl Odds: CLEMSON -7, Total 52.
The Clemson Tigers are a team with stars. Defensive ends Da'Quan Bowers and Ricky Sapp are standouts who will go high in the NFL Draft. DeAndre McDaniel is one of the best defensive backs in the country, and made eight interceptions on the season.
Wide receiver Jacoby Ford is a speedster who caught 53 passes for 735 yards this year.
Yet the biggest star is running back CJ Spiller, the guy who should have won the Heisman Trophy. Spiller is simply the biggest game-breaker in the country, a guy who scored eleven touchdowns rushing, four more receiving and five more on kick returns, and ranked fourth in the country in all-purpose yards. His 233-yard rushing day against Georgia Tech in the ACC title game was a classic.
Yet Clemson lost that game, both straight-up and in the NCAA football betting odds, and that leads us to where our doubts about Clemson in this game are. We don't question that this team has ability and playmakers, but after the surge the Tigers had toward the end of the season, during which time they won six straight games and averaged 40 points a game, it was a downer to lose to South Carolina in the big rivalry game. Another big loss was to Georgia Tech in the conference title game, which brought with it an invitation to the BCS. This is the kind of thing that might impact their performance in this game.
Clemson's freshman quarterback, Kyle Parker, rebounded form a rough start to finish with 56% completions and 19 touchdowns. But he'll be tested severely by the Kentucky secondary, which allowed opposing passer to complete just 48% of their throws, with 16 interceptions. Since the disastrous loss to Florida, where the Wildcats gave up 31 points in the first quarter, they have played better, and at one point, captured five of six, including straight-up wins at Georgia and Auburn. This is not a team that will roll over.
Kentucky has a pretty good two-fisted running attack, with go-to people in Derrick Locke (843 yards) and Randall "Not Tex" Cobb (537 yards), both of whom can also catch the ball out of the backfield. Cobb is the key guy in the Wildcats' wildcat formation. Mike Hartline, who was the MVP of last year's Liberty Bowl, has returned from injury, and he will provide a change of pace for an offense that also has the mobile Morgan Newton (55%, 5 TD's) available at quarterback.
Kentucky is not a team that will overwhelm you with statistics, but they are very comfortable at this bowl, having appeared in Nashville three of the last four years, and coach Rich Brooks has basically said that they've got the drill down pat. Also, they are happy to be in the game, which maybe just as important when you're talking about an underdog getting more than a TD.
We're going with Kentucky, catching 7.5 points.
Our recommendation: KENTUCKY +7.5.
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