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NCAA Bowl Previews 2015/16: Capital One Orange Bowl

Here we are. The two biggest Bowl games of the year: it’s the College Football Playoff Semi-Finals and the (4) Oklahoma Sooners are lookin


Here we are. The two biggest Bowl games of the year: it’s the College Football Playoff Semi-Finals and the (4) Oklahoma Sooners are looking to play upset to the undefeated (1) Clemson Tigers to earn a place in the National Championship. The Oklahoma Sooners had a disappointing season last year, they finished 8-5 and failed to finish in the top-25. However, with the addition of walk-on QB Baker Mayfield – his story is an excellent feel good story – the Sooners roared back into the spotlight and took the Big-12 title back from the TCU Horned Frogs and Baylor Bears, finishing 11-1 and giving them the chance to win their 10th (recognised) National Championship. They’ll also be looking to avenge their drubbing – by Clemson – in last year’s Russell Athletic Bowl. Their success is thanks to being strong on both sides of the ball, particularly offense. They rank 6th in total yards per game (543 YPG), 18th in passing yards per game (307.9 PYG), 15th in rushing yards per game (235 RYG) and 2nd in points per game (45.8 PPG). Defensively, they rank 31st in total yards (351 YPG), 34th in passing (201.5 PYG), 46th in rushing (149.2 RYG) and 21st in scoring (20.8 PPG). Of course, Oklahoma are loaded with good prospects, but WR Sterling Shepard is perhaps the pick of the bunch. Shepard isn’t the typical number 1 receiver, he is only 5’10”, 195lbs but he is huge for the Sooners. His success is thanks to his mixture of straight line speed and electric feet, he is an absolute nightmare to cover. Furthermore, he has very nice hands and can make hard catches look easy. He is very tough and plays with a chip on his shoulder, which will only help him. His game against Tennessee this year is worth watching, he is electric. Joining Shepard in looking to make an impact are LB Dominique Alexander, LB Eric Striker, DE Charles Tapper, OG Mila Kasitati, C Ty Darlington, OT Derek Farniok, OT Josia St. John, LB Frank Shannon, WR Durron Neal and LB Devante Bond. Clemson entered this season to build off a 10-3 season that ended in a 40-6 win over the Oklahoma Sooners in the Russell Athletic Bowl. They certainly did that. They are 13-0, ACC Champions for the first time since 2011. With a win today they’ll be playing for just their 2nd National Championship. Clemson, as you’d expect with an undefeated team, are excellent on both sides of the ball. Offensively, they rank 11th in total yards (511 YPG), 24th in passing (288.5 PYG), 22nd in rushing (222.2 RYG) and 16th in scoring (38.5 PPG). Defensively, they’re even better, they rank 7th in total yards (296 YPG), 5th in passing (166.9 PYG), 23rd in rushing (128.8 RYG) and 18th in scoring (20.2 PPG). Again, it should come as no surprise that Clemson boasts several high profile prospects, and going by their success on defense, it should also come as no surprise that their defense harbours plenty of them, including 3 potential 1st-round picks. Redshirt sophomore CB Mackensie Alexander is expected to enter the draft this year. Alexander passes the eye test, he is a fluid athlete with smooth hips in transition, quick, light feet and a very aggressive nature. Redshirt junior DE Shaq Lawson has already indicated he will enter the draft. He is excellent against the run and the pass, as he is very strong, has very good hands and leverage and is surprisingly quick and agile off the edge. Finally, junior SS Jayron Kearse stands out for multiple reasons. At 6’4”, 220lbs – and still filling out – he is bigger than most receivers, but what is scary is his surprising speed and brutal hitting. TE Jordan Leggett, DT D.J. Reader, OG Eric Mac Lain, WR Charone Peake, TE Stanton Seckinger, LB B.J. Goodson, OT Joe Gore and C Ryan Norton will also be looking to make an impact to make sure this isn’t their final game for the Tigers.  

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Remy Cabache

Lifetime sports fan. I have written with RealSport since the NFL section started and I have also written for my own blog, EbonyBird.com and I have had several articles published in local newspapers covering my local (American) football team.

NCAA Bowl Previews 2015/16: Capital One Orange Bowl

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