Tuesday, December 27 will begin the glutton of bowl games and the start of the bowl season for the ACC. Clemson and Colorado will tangle in the Champs Sports Bowl with Clemson trying to end the season with five straight wins and Colorado attempting to send out its interim coach undefeated.
Colorado comes into this game having lost their last three contests by a score of 130-22. Gary Barnett was fired after the Buffs last outing in the Big 12 Championhip Game and Defensive Coordinator Mike Hankwitz will be the interim coach with Dan Hawkins coaching his former team Boise St in their bowl game.
Before the month of November hit, Colorado was having a very good season. Looking at common opponents, the Buffaloes and Tigers both played Miami and Texas A&M this season. Both Clemson and Colorado beat Texas A&M by 1 and 21 points, respectively. The Tigers lost a heartbreaker to Miami, 36-30 in 3OT, while Colorado lost 23-3 the following week.
Clemson uses a balanced run/pass attack and likes to spread the field. Their main weapons on offense are Senior QB Charlie Whitehurst, RB James Davis, and WR Chansi Stuckey. Colorado will be without their starting QB Joel Klatt and will rely on backup James Cox who has attempted just 29 passes this year. The Buffs main weapon on offense is RB Hugh Charles, tallying 842 yards this season.
Defensively, Colorado is strong against the run allowing only 95 ypg, good for ninth in the country, but weak against the pass (253 yps, ranked 91st). The Buffaloes are treading water when it comes to turnover margin at a measley +0.08 on the season. Meanwhile, Clemson ranks first in the ACC at +0.91 having forced at least one turnover in every game this season. Clemson fairs slightly better against the run than the pass, but the Tigers defense is good for the 13th in the nation allowing just 19 points per game.
Many people think Colorado will roll over and be blown out in this game. I do not think that will happen because these Colorado Seniors, especially the defense, will want to send Hankwitz out a winner. Points will be at a premium in this game with the Buffaloes playing a backup QB facing a Clemson defense that has improved throughout the year. Clemson has a good offense, but nothing that will blow any doors off. If they score above 35, it will be from turnovers and defensive TD's. I like Clemson to cover in this game because they are starting a four-year starter at QB and all the controversy these Buffalo players have endured these last few weeks.
Prediction: Clemson 27 Colorado 10