Buffs Have Tigers Attention

In the time it took for a mid-afternoon run, Clemson coach Tommy Bowden saw a change in perception with his team's game against Colorado in the Champs Sports Bowl.

All of a sudden, there is some attention on it.

The problems at Colorado, complete with the firing of Gary Barnett and hiring of Boise State coach Dan Hawkins, have given this game a little more bite.

The Tigers' four losses were by a combined 14 points this year, including two in overtime. Winning this game would further validate Clemson as a program on the rise.

"(A win over Colorado) would be big for our seniors, first of all," Bowden said, "and it would give us something to talk to recruits about; it would show we again finished strong, that the program is headed in the right direction."

Bowden knows Colorado will have a little more going for it after negative attention surrounding the program was changed with the hiring of Hawkins. He has faced similar situations in previous bowl trips where the Tigers were caught up in emotional games.

"It's always something," Bowden said. "(Colorado's players) will be playing for their new coach; they'll be giving it all they have to impress him, and (Hawkins) probably have a bunch of trick plays -- he's known for that."

"They've got new life, and I'm sure their level of attention will be increased," Bowden said. "We just have to match it."

The players also know they are in a for a hard fought game.

"We didn't know much about Colorado in the beginning, but we are ready now," said starting LB Anthony Waters. "We know we need to come out and have a good game if we're going to beat those guys. We expect them to come out gunning for us."

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The biggest difference in this year's team has been ability to consistently run the ball. Clemson is No. 51 nationally in rushing offense, fourth in the ACC with a 152 yard average and 18 touchdowns. With an offensive line that has a two-deep rotation at nearly every position, the Tigers are running the ball better than at any point in the last four seasons.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Tigers have forced two or more turnovers in eight consecutive games and lead the ACC in turnover margin. Clemson is 13th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 18.3 points per game, and 25th in pass efficiency defense. The Tigers did not allow an offensive touchdown by Florida State and South Carolina in the last two games of the regular season, the first time a defense has held Bobby Bowden and Steve Spurrier-coached offense out of the end zone in the same season.

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