GAME: Clemson (8-4, 5-3 ACC) vs. Kentucky (8-4, 4-4 SEC) 1:00 PM ET
LOCATION: LP Field, Nashville, Tenn. (68,798)
TV: ESPN (Play-by-play: Dave Pasch, Analysts: Rod Gilmore and Trevor Matich, Sideline: Stacey Dales
SPREAD: Clemson by 9.5
COACHES: Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden is 60-37 (78-41 overall) in his eighth season with the Tigers. Kentucky head coach Rich Brooks is 16-30 in his fourth year (107-139-4 overall) with the Wildcats.
SERIES: Kentucky leads the all-time series against Clemson, 7-4, but the Tigers prevailed in the most recent meeting, a 14-13 Clemson win in the 1993 Peach Bowl. This is the 11th post-season appearance in school history, with the Wildcats carrying a 5-5 record in bowl games.
INJURIES: Clemson- RB Demerick Chancellor left team, OL Roman fry (ACL) out, LB Tramaine Billie (ankle) out, LB Anthony Waters (ACL) out, DT Etta Etta-Tawo (heart) out. Kentucky- C Jorge Gonzalez (knee) out, OL Zach Hennis (shoulder) out, G Micah Jones (back) out, LB Joe Schuler (knee) out, G Fatu Turituri (knee) out, DE Nii Adjei Oninku (hand) out, OT Hayden Lane (elbow) doubtful, C Travis Slaydon (shoulder) doubtful.
KENTUCKY NOTES: Kentucky is in its first bowl game since the 1999 season. ... UK has played in 10 bowls and holds a 5-5 record ... This is UK's second appearance in the Music City Bowl as it met Syracuse in the 1999 game. ... Kentucky and Clemson meet for the second time in a bowl game. ... The Wildcats met the Tigers in the 1993 Peach Bowl, a 14-13 win by Clemson as the Tigers scored with 20 seconds remaining. ... Kentucky's seven wins are the most since the 2002 season (7-5). ... Kentucky finished 4-4 in the SEC, the team's best league mark since 1999. ... Kentucky ranks in the top 10 in three NCAA statistical categories, including first in punt return average (20.6 ypr), fifth in turnover margin (+13) and ninth in passing offense (274 ypg).
CLEMSON NOTES: C.J. Spiller leads all ACC
freshmen and is fourth nationally with 914 yards rushing ... Spiller's 7.4 yards per rush attempt is the fourth-best per carry average in ACC history ... sophomore TB James Davis leads the ACC in scoring (8.5) and is third in the ACC in rushing (94.5) ... Davis and Spiller have combined to rush for 2,048 yards and 27 touchdowns while averaging 6.4 yards per carry … PK Jad Dean is 24th on the ACC career scoring list with 250 points … WR Chansi Stuckey has caught a pass in 30 straight games and is second in the ACC in receptions (5.0) and receiving yardage (67.4).
CLEMSON KEY PLAYER: CB Chris Chancellor. With starter Duane Coleman suspended for the game, Chancellor, a redshirt freshman, moves into the starting spot against one of the top passing offenses in the country. Chancellor has experience, seeing action on 230 snaps this season, including three starts, but will be tested with a variety of passes Friday afternoon against the Wildcats.
FORECAST: Temperatures are expected to reach 65 degrees for Friday's kickoff. Expect a mix of sunshine and clouds with winds out of the southeast at 8 mph.
* Dean Still Confident
* Brooks Concerned with Clemson's Run Game
* Bowden: Adams Needs to Crank It Up
* Parking Advisory for Music City Bowl
* Wednesday Bowl Notebook
* Notebook: Stranded Tigers Make It
* Tigers Practice in Nashville
* Checking In with Chansi
* Coleman Suspended for Bowl Game
* Music City Bowl Notes
* Taylor goes full speed in practice
* Huge Saturday Football Notebook
* Tigers Must Regroup
* Music City Bowl Sold Out
* Bowden Press Conference Notes
* Bowden Not Worried About Motivation
* Clemson - Kentucky Bowl Release
WHAT TO WATCH: When Clemson has the Ball - The run-and-gun offense of the first eight games of the season seems like a distant memory now. While the Tigers will enjoy a significant size advantage at the line of scrimmage, offensive coordinator Rob Spence must keep the Kentucky defense off balance by being more unpredictable or by having running backs James Davis and C.J. Spiller turn long drives into touchdowns. Kentucky's defense is one of the worst in the country, ranking 118 out of 119 Division I-A teams, but the Wildcats did limit Tennessee to just 17 points in a five-point loss in the season finale. Don't be surprised to see eight and nine men in the box as Kentucky tries to contain Clemson's running attack. Once again, pressure falls on the shoulders of senior QB Will Proctor, who must make protect the ball and manage the game. Proctor should be helped by the return of WR Rendrick Taylor, who missed the last half of the season with a broken elbow.
When Kentucky has the Ball - Junior quarterback Andre Woodson is a big reason why the Wildcats are one of the top passing offenses in the country, averaging almost 27 points per game, but there are many other weapons to cause concern. Junior WR Keenan Burton nearly tripled production from his sophomore year, recording 72 catches for 1,006 yards and 12 touchdowns. RB Rafael Little, a South Carolina native is also dangerous, with almost 1,000 yards in total offense (619 rushing, 377 receiving) and five scores. Clemson must do a better job of getting pressure on the quarterback. First team All-American DE Gaines Adams, DE Phillip Merling and the interior line must force Woodson out of rhythm to prevent a shootout.
Special Teams- Senior K Jad Dean has connected on 15-of-20 field goals this season, but missed his last opportunity against South Carolina- a 39-yarder that would have tied the game with just seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Kentucky's Lones Seiber has connected on 11-of-18 attempts this year. The Wildcats real special teams weapon is their punt return team, which averages more than 20 yards per return, good for No. 1 in the nation.
Intangibles- The real question for the Tigers concerns their mindset. Has this team recovered from losing three of its final four games after starting the year 7-1? Clemson is clearly the more talented team, but more times than not bowl games come down to who wants it more. A loss means more questions entering the offseason while a win moves the Tigers to 9-4 and helps put close losses to Boston College, Maryland and South Carolina behind them.
PREDICTION Clemson 31 Kentucky 21
Analysis: The Wildcats have plenty of firepower to put points on the board, but plenty of holes on defense as well. Expect a high scoring game with plenty of fireworks on both sides of the ball, but Clemson stays in control as the ground game returns to mid-season form.
DON'T FORGET! The Tiger Pre-game Show will be broadcasting live Saturday afternoon from 7:00 AM to 10:00 AM Eastern from LP Field in Nashville, Tenn. Tune in to 104.9 WCCP FM in upstate South Carolina or on the world wide web on wccpfm.com.
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