QUICK GLANCE: Colorado vs. Clemson, Champs Sports Bowl, Orlando, Fla., Dec. 27 -- Clemson posted three wins over teams ranked in the top 20 and dropped overtime decisions to Miami and Boston College. Colorado was 0-3 against ranked opponents, with two losses to Texas and an early defeat at Miami. The teams' only prior meeting was in the 1957 Orange Bowl. This game gained some intrigue when Colorado fired head coach Gary Barnett and quickly replaced him with Boise State head coach Dan Hawkins. That should give a jolt of emotion for Colorado. Clemson, meanwhile, seeks to atone for an embarrassing performance the last time the Tigers played in Orlando. They were thumped by Texas Tech 55-15 in the 2002 Tangerine Bowl, which was the prior title of this event.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Colorado could be handicapped going into the Champs Sports Bowl with QB Joel Klatt struggling to come back off a severe concussion he suffered in the Big 12 championship game. Without Klatt, the Buffs will turn to junior James Cox, though they'll probably have to put more emphasis on the run game and turn to TB Hugh Charles.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The way to move the ball against Colorado is through the air, where they rank 91st nationally with a 252.6-yard average. Colorado is solid against the run, ranking ninth nationally, but inexperience in the secondary has hurt the Buffs in coverage, even with the return this season of standout S J.J. Billingsley.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Colorado WR Evan Judge vs. Clemson CB Tye Hill -- This match-up appears to be unfair since Hill was named an All-American and Judge didn't even rank among the Big 12's top receivers. But if Judge can neutralize Hill and create openings for tight ends and backs, the Buffs are just as comfortable throwing to unconventional targets. Judge led CU receivers in yardage (567), while WR Dusty Sprague was the leader in receptions (43). Clemson ranks 25th nationally in pass defense and Hill led the Tigers with 10 breakups, including three interceptions.
Clemson RB James Davis vs. Colorado LB Thaddaeus Washington -- Davis won the ACC rookie of the year award after leading the Tigers in rushing with 729 yards, eight TDs and 72.9 yards per-game. Washington is Colorado's top defensive player with a team-high 102 tackles, including eight for loss yards. Stopping the Tigers' running game will be the first priority for Colorado and Washington needs to have a big game to keep this one competitive.
BUFFS TO WATCH: TB Hugh Charles -- After gaining only 36 yards against Texas in the Big 12 championship game, Charles finished with a team-high 842. Unless he enjoys a huge bowl game, it will mark the second time in three years the Buffs failed to produce a 1,000-yard rusher.
P John Torp -- Hardly looked like a finalist for the Ray Guy Award when he averaged only 32.6 yards and had one punt blocked in the Dec. 3 loss to Texas.
LB Thaddaeus Washington -- Recorded 10 tackles against Texas, the sixth time in the last seven games Washington had double-digit stops. He has 112 tackles to lead the Buffs.
C James Fenton -- Named one of six finalists for the Rimington Trophy. Fenton has allowed no sacks and was instrumental in paving the way for the Buffs' 365-yard average in total offense.
ROSTER REPORT: QB Joel Klatt is listed as doubtful for the bowl game as he continues to recover from a concussion he suffered in the Big 12 championship game. Klatt, a senior, is the Buffaloes' all-time leading passer. T Clint O'Neal was suspended for his role in sending a racially threatening e-mail to a member of the Colorado cross-country team.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think (winning a national championship) definitely has to be the goal. To me, there are only two types of class -- first and none. You're either trying to be the best, or you're not." -- New Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins.
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