If the Cheez-It Bowl matchup took place at the beginning of the season, it would have been a bigger deal than it is now. This bowl matchup is a matchup between two teams that were expected to contend for the College Football Playoff. Instead we get these two talented teams clashing at the Camping World Stadium instead. This matchup is between Clemson (9-3) and Iowa State (7-5). This matchup would be a fun one to watch back in September. However, it will still be a good game to watch during bowl season don’t get me wrong. It just doesn’t have the same feeling like it would have back in September. With that being said here is my preview for the Cheez-It Bowl.
It is very weird to see Clemson not playing in the College Football playoff I will say. However, Dabo’s squad struggled early on this season. After starting off 2-2, Clemson managed to rattle off winning seven out of their last eight games. However, offensively this team never lived up to the potential that people were talking about them back in the pre-season. There was a lot of hype especially around quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, but he struggled mightily this season. With the inconsistency of the offensive line and the receivers being injured/inconsistent, the only bright side of this offense was their running game. Their running game is led by freshman running back Will Shipley. Without Shipley this was going to be one of the worst power five offenses. This is one of the worst offenses if not the worst that we have seen from Dabo’s time at Clemson and they still managed to finish 9-3.
A big reason why this team won nine games is without a doubt their defense. This Clemson defense holds opponents to under 100 rushing yards per game. They also only give up around 15 points per game as well. This defense has a ton of NFL prospects on it however, with the loss of their defensive coordinator it will be interesting to see how this defense looks in this bowl matchup.
The Cyclones offense put up some great numbers in 2021. They ranked 50th in the nation in total yards per game (447.8), 45th in passing yards per game (268.8) and they are tied for 34th in the nation for points per game as well (32.8). However, for this bowl game the Cyclones will be without the Big 12 offensive player of the year Breece Hall. Hall rushed for 1,472 rushing yards to go along with 20 touchdowns. They can’t replicate what Hall did for that offense, but at least they have a talented replacement in Jirehl Brock. Brock Purdy is going to have to do a lot more for this Cyclone offense against this tough Clemson defense. Purdy and the Cyclone offense works when they are efficient, the key is how efficient will they be without Breece Hall?
Defensively, the Cyclones were solid this season. They give up just over 120 rushing yards per game and allow 328.6 total yards per game which is 38th in the nation. They have two talented edge rushers that have combined for 25.5 tackles for a loss. If Clemson’s offensive line continues to struggle, those two talented edge rushers should be creating havoc the entire way.
Clemson is a 1.5 point favorite with the over/under set at 44. My lean here is Clemson as I think their defense could easily win them this game. That Clemson offense worries me that much that I can’t bet them to win. So We are focusing on the total her. For this bowl matchup my official play will be under 44. Both defenses are good and will contain the opposing offense the majority of the game. Look for a low-scoring affair in this one.
-Chris Jones (@cjoneswho1212)
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