Monday, December 31, 2012
Instant analysis: Clemson 25, LSU 24
By Edward Aschoff
ATLANTA -- In the battle for Death Valley and Tigers supremacy, No. 14 Clemson upset No. 8 LSU 25-24 on a last-second, 37-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro.
It was over when: Catanzaro nailed the 37-yard kick to cap a masterful 10-play, 60-yard drive by Clemson.
Game ball goes to: Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was unstoppable all night. Even with partner in crime Sammy Watkins out for basically the entire game with an ankle injury, he caught a game-high 13 passes for a game-high 190 yards and two touchdowns. His last touchdown cut LSU's late fourth-quarter lead to two points.
Stat of the game: Hopkins finished the night with the school record for single-season receiving yards (1,404).
Stat of game II: LSU linebacker Kevin Minter finished the game with 19 tackles, including 1.5 for loss and a sack.
Stat of the game III: Clemson registered a season-high eight sacks against LSU.
Unsung heroes of the game: You can't really say that Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd was an unsung hero, but he deserves some love after he threw for 346 yards and two touchdowns on 36-of-50 passing. He also ran the ball a game-high 29 times for a net gain of 22 yards and a touchdown. Defensive end Malliciah Goodman finished the game with three sacks, including a major one with LSU leading 24-16 with more than nine minutes left and driving in Clemson territory. The sack knocked LSU out of Clemson's side of the field.
What it means for Clemson: After a disappointing finish to the regular season, Clemson took down one of the SEC's best teams, as its offense put together spectacular back-to-back scoring drives, gutting LSU's defense along the way. It was also the first bowl win for Clemson since beating Kentucky 21-13 in the 2009 Music City Bowl.
What it means for LSU: The Tigers' defense totally collapsed on Clemson's final two drives of the game, allowing scoring drives of 77 and 60 yards. After controlling the game for most of the second half, the defense fell apart. Now, the Tigers will probably say goodbye to a good chunk of that defense, as a handful of underclassmen are expected to declare early for the NFL draft.