LSU Tigers: Sammy Watkins

Instant analysis: Clemson 25, LSU 24

December, 31, 2012

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.

Tiger Tale: Tharold Simon

December, 20, 2012
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Leading up to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, we'll take a daily look at a key LSU player and examine how he has done and what his challenges are for the Clemson game.

[+] EnlargeSimon
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireTharold Simon should be plenty busy against Clemson.
Tharold Simon, CB, Junior

Accomplishments: At the beginning of the season, opponents weren't willing to throw at Simon, the only experienced returning cornerback for the Tigers. Teams generally threw at the other starter, Jalen Mills, and nickelback Jalen Collins. As the season progressed, however, teams did finally start challenging Simon, who used his unusual height and length for a cornerback to intercept a team-high four passes to go with eight passes broken up and 12 passes defended.

Shortcomings: Despite his numbers, teams did have some success throwing at Simon, which is part of the reason why he wound up with so many passes to defend. There was an assumption that he'd follow recent LSU cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Morris Claiborne to the NFL, but there is some question whether he had the dominant kind of junior season that would make it worthwhile for him to leave school early.

Against Clemson: With speedsters DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins on the other side, Simon will see plenty of action. LSU gave up 979 yards in their last games so look for ACC Offensive Player of the Year Tajh Boyd, Clemson's QB, to go right at the Tigers corners, including Simon. If Simon's really ready to move on to the next level, he'll have a chance to prove it against perhaps the best pass offense LSU will see this season.


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