NOTES: Something has to Give

ATLANTA – There are several reasons why No. 15 Clemson's tilt against No. 22 Auburn Monday night is one of the most intriguing games of the 32 bowls being played this postseason.

But one main reason is because Clemson led the ACC is scoring, while Auburn led the SEC in scoring defense.

Something has to give.

Will Clemson reach its average of producing 34.2 points a game, or will Auburn only allow its average of 16.7 points per game?

"I think the key to the matchup is how the offensive and defensive lines compete against each other," Clemson offensive coordinator Rob Spence said. "I think that's one of the keys, let's put it that way. I think their strength is that front. They are very, very athletic at end, they're very, very strong on the inside tackle position. …

"To understand to when they move to their different fronts how to both protect and run the ball against those different fronts is going to present a big challenge to us during the game. … First and foremost, it's going to start with the line of scrimmage and what happens there."

In Clemson's three losses this year, running the ball was almost nonexistent. In the past, Spence said Auburn's defense is as big as Boston College's, but as fast as Virginia Tech's.

Clemson couldn't run against either of those two teams, but Spence thinks this time it will be different.

"I think that as our players have gone through the season they've matured up front and as you know me, I believe," he said. "They believe."

Spence said what stands out about Auburn's defense is the intensity with which they players play. He said they have taken on the persona of their coordinator Will Muschamp. Meanwhile, Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden has criticized his players on the offensive line for being soft.

"Coach Bowden has said many times that we have to play offense like they play defense," Spence said. "I think that probably says it all right there."

RUDE AWAKENING: Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning has some advice for Muschamp: Be prepared to see your lofty defensive statistics take a major hit.

Koenning isn't slighting Muschamp, but rather making a point that nearly every team that has a hurry-up, spread offense usually suffers on defense. Look at Louisville, West Virginia, Kansas and Missouri as point of references.

Auburn has installed that sort of offense during the bowl break with the hire of Troy offensive coordinator Tony Franklin.

Gone are the games of Auburn's offense running the national norm between 60 and 70 plays per game.

"I think (Troy) played 104 snaps against Oklahoma State this year," Koenning said. "There were a lot of games in the mid 80s and 90s. That obviously doesn't bode well for you as far as guys getting tired and it doesn't bode well for you statistically because that's more opportunities for them to have plays.

"But it also doesn't bode well for them defensively. If you can get their offense off the field on three-and-out, then their defense has to play more snaps and that's something that they're going to find out at Auburn that they haven't had the opportunity to find out over the last few years where they've had running backs that ran the ball and they played 45 to 50 snaps on defense. Now all of as sudden they're playing 75 and 80 snaps on defense.

"The big thing is we've got to get them off the field and not let them convert so it puts their defense back on the field. Our offense does a great job of converting and keeping drives alive. Rob (Spence) has been a master of doing that the last three years that I've been with him."

WHERE'S THE BEEF? The two teams went to a Brazilian steakhouse earlier in the week to see which team could eat the most. For those of you not familiar with a that type of a steakhouse, it's where the wait staff brings an endless supply of several different types of meat and carves it for you right there at your table.

Auburn players devoured 765 pounds of meat, while Clemson managed a scant 590 pounds.

Fire of Brazil normally serves 600 pounds of meat from more than a dozen varieties each day. That means each team ate an entire days worth of meat in just two hours.

To top it all off, Auburn took 160 deserts to go, while Clemson took home 125.

HALL OF FAME: In 2002, the Chick-fil-A Bowl Hall of Fame was created to honor former players, coaches and contributors as well as staff and volunteers who have had a significant impact on the bowl.

There are 22 current members, including players such as Mike Singletary, Reggie White, Jim Kelly and coaches Bobby Dodd, Vince Dooley and Hayden Fry.

This year, former Purdue quarterback Jim Everett and former Arizona State head coach Frank Kush were inducted.

Even though Clemson is now tied for the most appearances in the bowl over its 40-year existence, there isn't a single player or coach from the university to have been inducted. The Tigers are 2-4 in Peach/Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Top Stories