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The Clemson Tigers and South Florida Bulls probably underachieved this year, but they are both going to be playing on Tobacco Road on New Year's Eve for the first of a four pack of NCAA football bowl games at the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Which team will beat the college football betting lines? Check out our preview and our Meineke Car Care Bowl picks.
Meineke Bowl Matchup: South Florida Bulls vs. Clemson Tigers
Date: Friday, December 31st, 12:00 ET
Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Meineke Bowl Line: Clemson -5.5
Bulls Notes: The good news for Head Coach Skip Holtz is that his team really did a nice job this year responding to his system defensively. For a team that struggled at times last year, holding teams to just 19.5 points per game was fantastic. However, the offense really didn't do well enough for this team to finish significantly better than .500. The Bulls didn't ran higher than No. 71 in the nation in any major offensive category this year, and 312.2 yards per game ranked No. 69 of the 70 bowl teams in the country this season. QB BJ Daniels went in the wrong direction this year after a relatively successful freshman season in which he replaced the injured QB Matt Grothe. This year, Daniels only completed 56.4 percent of his passes for 1,496 yards and 9 TDs. Tossing 12 picks was awful for a man that only averaged 18.2 passes per game this year. His top target was WR Dontavia Bogan, who caught 46 passes for 670 yards and five TDs. On the ground, things weren't significantly better, but for a team that had a run/pass ratio of over 1.50:1, this is the most important part of the team. RB Moise Plancher was the team's leading rusher with 743 yards, while RB Demetris Murray will carry the ball a lot as well. He had 517 yards this year. Both had four trips to the end zone.
Tigers Notes: Clemson knows that it really underachieved this year. Though the defense was fantastic, the lack of an offense was the reason why this team went 5-0 for 'under' bettors on the campaign. The Tigers built their defense around DE Da'Quan Bowers, who was the nation's sack leader. This team only conceded 312.4 yards per game and 17.8 points per game, making this one of the best units in the ACC. Before giving up 29 to the South Carolina Gamecocks, Clemson had held six straight foes to 16 points or fewer. However, in those six games, it only went 4-2 SU and 3-3 ATS. Thank the offense, which also really wasn't worth much this year, much like its counterparts in this game. The Tigers only got 2,080 yards out of QB Kyle Parker this year, and he had 12 TDs against 10 picks. On the ground, both RB Jamie Harper and RB Andre Ellington played relatively well, but neither was all that explosive. The two combined for 1,415 yards and 16 scores on the campaign, but this accounted for half of the offensive TDs on the year.
The Final Word: Clemson is probably the better team in this game, but we aren't really so sure that that is going to translate into a victory. The Tigers will get some good defensive player for certain, but Daniels and company should be able to put just enough points on the board to win this game outright. Don't be shocked if this starts all of the upsets that we have all been waiting for on New Year's Eve.
Meineke Bowl Free Pick: South Florida +5.5
Meineke Bowl Prediction: South Florida 23 – Clemson 20