Previewing the Capital One Orange Bowl: Tennessee vs. Clemson
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This is the preview for the Capital One Orange Bowl:
Date: Friday, December 30, 8:00 p.m. ET
Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, FL)
Betting splits: 55% of handle, 60% of bets on Tennessee +5
No other bowl game has a more fitting matchup than this one because the stadium will be all orange with Clemson facing Tennessee. Of course, each team had its sights set on the four-team playoff before getting upset by South Carolina late in the season. It was the Tigers’ 31-30 loss to the Gamecocks that finally convinced coach Dabo Swinney to quit on veteran quarterback DJ Uiagalelei and start the clock on the Cade Klubnik era. If Swinney had made the move sooner, Clemson probably would be in the playoff. Klubnik accounted for 309 total yards (279 passing, 30 rushing) and two touchdowns in a 39-10 victory over North Carolina in the ACC title game. Uiagalelei is transferring to Oregon State, which is not a setback for the Tigers, but their defense will miss end Myles Murphy, an elite pass rusher who’s opting out and will be an early pick in the NFL Draft.
The Volunteers will look a lot different than they did most of the season, mostly because of star quarterback Hendon Hooker’s season-ending knee injury. Tennessee’s top wide receivers—Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman—have opted out to prepare for the NFL. The rushing attack will be the key to the Vols competing and potentially winning. In a 56-0 victory over Vanderbilt to finish the regular season, Tennessee rushed for 362 yards on 31 carries, with Jaylen Wright and Dylan Sampson combining for 291 yards. Joe Milton, the former Michigan transfer who stepped in for Hooker, is not a polished passer and needs help to move the offense. It’s not going to be easy to run against the Clemson defense.
It should be easy for Klubnik to throw against Tennessee, which has one of the nation’s worst pass defenses. In a 63-38 loss to South Carolina, the Vols allowed Spencer Rattler to pass for 438 yards and six touchdowns with no picks. The Tennessee defense also was shredded through the air by Florida’s Anthony Richardson (453 yards) and Alabama’s Bryce Young (455 yards). This matchup sets up well for Klubnik to be the star of the show. Swinney is 10-4 in his past 14 bowls, with all of the losses coming in the national championship and playoff games. DraftKings lists Clemson as a 5-point favorite, and it’s a game the Tigers should win.
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