LOCATION: Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, Orlando, FL (65,438)
RADIO: 104.9 WCCP FM
SPREAD: Clemson by 9.5
COACHES: Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden is 51-33 (68-37 overall) in his seventh season with the Tigers. Colorado interim head coach Mike Hankwitz will be making his first and only appearance leading the Buffs, as Boise State head coach Dan Hawkins will take over the Buffalos after the bowl game.
SERIES: This will be the second meeting between Clemson and Colorado on the gridiron, and also the second time the two schools have met in a bowl game. The Buffalos defeated the Tigers 27-21 in the 1957 Orange Bowl in Miami, FL. Clemson overcame a 20-0 deficit at halftime to take a 21-20 lead in the fourth quarter before Colorado scored a one-yard rushing touchdown by John Bayuk with 7:13 remaining to give the then Big Seven school the victory.
COLORADO KEY PLAYER: LB Thaddeus Washington. 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.
INJURIES: Clemson- QB Charlie Whitehurst (shoulder) probable, DT Donnell Clark (ACL) out, DE Kwam Williams (suspended) out, TE Bobby Williamson (suspended) out, OL Chris Capote (multiple injuries) out. Colorado- QB Joel Klatt (concussion) doubtful, OT Clint O'Neal (suspended) out.
WEATHER FORECAST: Temperatures are expected to reach the upper 60's Tuesday afternoon under mostly sunny skies.
CLEMSON QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think we've practiced pretty good all year and I think we've showed up for every game to play and I sense the same thing with these practices. I'm kind of anxious to see how they play, because we've been able to accomplish that through the normal course of the season, but again a four or five week layover with the bowl game, I'm anxious to see if we can carry on that momentum from the end of the season to the bowl game." - Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden.
COLORADO QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's been a real emotional week. It was all going down hill for us…we had finals to deal with…we had lost three games in a row, there was a lot of rumors flying around about the coaching staff. It was tough for some of the guys to get through it. Stuff happens in life and you just have to push through it. Everything that has happened is in the past and we have to take some of the negatives, learn from it and grow from it." -- QB James Cox on dealing with the coaching changes and tough losses to close the season.
* Hankwitz Optimistic Despite Recent Setbacks
* Big Things Expected of Stuckey
* Whitehurst: Four Quarters Left
* Remarkable Career Winds Down
* Tigers Wrap Up Bowl Practice
* Bowden: Seniors' Legacy at Stake
* Davis Enjoying First Year Success
* Tye Hill: Gameplan is Set
* Cox Talks Tigers; Coaching Changes
* Champs Sports Bowl Notebook
* UPDATED: Capote Injured in Car Wreck
* Whitehurst "Close" to Full Strength
* First Practice Photo Gallery
* Buffs Have Tigers Attention
* Hamlin Living the Dream in Florida
* Bowden: Tigers Looking Good
* Critical Three Days Ahead for Tigers
* Colorado Scouting Report
* Going Bowling in Florida
* Tigers to Face Buffalos
WHAT TO WATCH: When Clemson has the Ball - Just like they did during the final three games of the regular season, the Tigers want to establish the running game with freshman RB James Davis. However, 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 passing situations. Chansi Stuckey emerged as one of the top wide receivers in the ACC during the last half of the season, but don't be surprised to see senior Curtis Baham and freshman sensation Aaron Kelly have a big game as well. Senior QB Charlie Whitehurst appears to be back at full strength after having surgery on his sore shoulder three weeks ago. He'd like nothing more than to close out his career with a monster game on national television.
When Colorado has the Ball- The Buffs are expected to start their backup quarterback - junior James Cox. Cox is largely inexperienced playing behind fifth-year senior Joel Klatt, who is still recovering from a severe concussion he suffered in the Big 12 Championship game against Texas. As a result, look for the Buffs to attack Clemson's smaller defensive front with RB Hugh Charles. Colorado will have a significant size advantage at the line of scrimmage, so don't be surpised to see a heavy dose of the ground attack in the first half.
Intangibles: Colorado suffered through two humiliating losses to end the season, including a 70-3 romp at the hands of the No. 2 Texas Longhorns in the Big 12 Championship game and a 30-3 loss to Nebraska. As a result, head coach Gary Barnett was fired despite leading his team to the Big 12 North title in four of the last five seasons. Colorado then hired Boise State head man Dan Hawkins, but he won't take over the program in an official capacity until after the Champs Sports Bowl. Colorado defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz has been in control since Barnett's dismissal. The question remains: will his team take Hankwitz seriously knowing he likely won't be with the team next year? Also, what is the mental status of the Buffs after losing its last three games in resounding fashion?
Prediction: Clemson 27 Colorado 16
DON'T FORGET! The Tiger Pre-Game show will be broadcasting live Tuesday morning from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM from Orlando, FL. Tune in to 104.9 WCCP FM in upstate South Carolina or on the world wide web on wccpfm.com.
RB Hugh Charles
LB Thaddeus Washington
Interim head coach Mike Hankwitz