Dan Scott: La Tech - Clemson Prediction
Despite some expected first-game jitters, the Clemson offense didn't play
badly at No. 8 Georgia last week. New starting quarterback Willie Simmons
made a few mistakes but played well enough to have his team in position to
tie the game late. He only figures to get better and better. Ditto the
offensive line, whose first collective start went better than some experts
figured. No Bernard Rambert at running back and an expected limited
contribution from wideout Derrick Hamilton should be offset by Clemson's
depth at those positions. As for Louisiana Tech, the Bulldogs' high-powered
offense centers around quarterback Luke McCown, who threw more than 60 passes
a week ago in a dramatic comeback win over Oklahoma State. Some are touting
McCown as a Heisman candidate. However, Clemson's balance offsets his
gunslinging ways Saturday. The Bulldogs rushed for just 38 yards a week ago.
ADVANTAGE - Clemson.
The Tigers were impressive in allowing just over 200 yards to Georgia, a
much-needed shot in the arm for a unit that was a mess a season ago. But in
reality the turnaround may have begun in last season's Humanitarian Bowl,
when that much-maligned unit did a nice job putting the clamps on McCown.
Watch for coordinator John Lovett to disguise coverages and fronts in an
attempt to confuse McCown. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, gave up 36 points to
Oklahoma State. They should give up at least that many to Clemson.
ADVANTAGE - Clemson
For Clemson, last week was horrible, to say the least. Kickoff and punt
return breakdowns, poor punting and two missed field goals effectively cost
Clemson the Georgia game. Wynn Kopp kept his punting job this week, but just
barely. Louisiana Tech did allow over 15 yards per punt return last week, but
only after averaging over 40 yards per kick with a long of 56. The Bulldogs
also were 1-for-1 on field goal attempts.
ADVANTAGE - Louisiana Tech
Head to head, it's Tommy Bowden one, Jack Bicknell III nothing. Go with the
ADVANTAGE - Clemson
Louisiana Tech will come out guns-a-blazing Saturday, playing with a chip on
its shoulder it has carried since accusing Bowden of trying to run up the
score in last year's bowl game. While they are dangerous, and did beat a John
Lovett defense a year ago at Auburn, the Bulldogs just don't have the overall
balance to win this game.
Clemson 38, Louisiana Tech 24