Setting the Russell Athletic Bowl stage

The time has almost arrived for OU and Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Come look at the breakdown between the Sooners and Tigers.

SoonersIllustrated.com is going to set the stage every week breaking down Oklahoma’s game during the 2014 season.

No. 17 Clemson (9-3) vs. OU (8-4)

When: 4:30 p.m. CST Monday

OU’s biggest question going into the game

Where is OU’s mindset heading into this one? The OU coaches and players have all said the right things leading up to the game. But you have to wonder where the motivation is coming from for the Sooners.

OU was expected by a lot of people, including themselves, to be in contention for the national championship. Instead, the Sooners finished 4-4 in their last eight games and are playing well before New Year’s Day.

Some players could be contemplating leaving early to enter the NFL Draft, while it’s unclear how some of the seniors are feeling right now.

OU should get a boost with the return of Trevor Knight and Sterling Shepard on offense and that could be enough to bring some spark back to what has been a rather spark-less team in the last month with the exception of Samaje Perine.

Clemson’s biggest question going into the game

Will the Brent Venables-led defense do its job against the Sooners? It has been the talk of the game ever since it was announced, now we get to see.

Venables’ defense has been sensational this season, but it will go under a strong test with the OU running game. A bevy of backs who can produce led by a senior-laden offensive line that wants to go out on a high note, it’s going to be a fun battle to watch.

For as good as OU’s offensive line has been, it has fallen short on a few major occasions this season. That cannot happen against the Tigers, or it’s going to be a long, disappointing day for the Sooners.

Quotable

“It’s a bowl game. It’s a really good team we’re playing against. Pretty simple. When you walk on the field with that OU on your chest and get to play a team like Clemson, that’s all the motivation you need. It’s a great opportunity for us to play a really great team. When Oklahoma can line up against Clemson, I think there’s a lot to be gained.” - OU wide receivers coach Jay Norvell on motivation

Breakout player

Going with Alex Ross for this one. In the first half of the season, you could make the case for team MVP because of his two kickoff returns for touchdowns. Nothing happen in the final six games but don’t forget about what he can do. All it takes is one play to make something special happen, and it will again Monday evening.

Prediction

OU 27, Clemson 23. Sort of a season of disappointment for both schools ends on a slightly higher note for the Sooners. No Deshaun Watson allows OU to freely pass rush Clemson and create turnovers and sacks. Trevor Knight brings some balance back to the OU offense, and with Samaje Perine banged up, it’s a big game for Keith Ford.


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories