How Clemson Wins
1. Embrace the role of underdog: Like the 1958 Clemson team that played unbeaten top-ranked LSU down to the final snap before falling 7-0 in the Sugar Bowl, quarterback Tajh Boyd says the Tigers are relishing their role as underdog as they prepare for seven-ranked LSU.
"Not many people are giving us a chance in this game," said Boyd.
Heavy work being performed with a lighter step, said Boyd.
"The mood has been totally different from last year's bowl practice," said Boyd.
Focused intensity will be a key on game day, as the Tigers take on one of their stiffest challenges of the season. Delivering an early blow will be important for Clemson's chances.
2. Win up front, protect Tajh Boyd, execute: It's going to be up to Clemson to crack LSU's defense, and the Tigers can't do if they get pushed around up front like they did against South Carolina.
Chad Morris expects LSU to play its own game and let the chips fall where they may.
"They're not going to change what they do because they're playing us," said Morris. "They're going to be who they are."
Morris said Clemson's offense can't afford the three-and-outs that helped limit the Tigers' possession, and opportunity, against the Gamecocks.
"When you go three-and-out, the offense doesn't work," said Morris.
Morris said LSU's defensive front is strong, deep and physical, and will test the Tigers' ability to execute. Clemson's offensive front five will need to play its best game of the season.
3. Hold its own on defense, and watch for trickery: On offense, LSU's Tigers don't mess around - except when they do. Offering a change of pace on LSU's traditional power-based offense, Les Miles has developed a reputation as a gambler, spicing up his attack well-timed and well-executed trick plays and sleight-of-hand.
"Their offensive style of play is different from anybody we've seen all year, just because of their physical nature that they have," said Dabo Swinney. "Third-and-10, it doesn't matter - they're going to run the power. Or maybe a trick play off the power.
"It's just a different style than we see week to week."
LSU has gotten particularly good mileage off field goal fakes, including a perfectly-executed flip-back from holder to kicker, who sprinted for a touchdown against South Carolina in 2007, as well as various reverses and reverse-throwbacks.
The trick plays work because of the effort and attention to detail required to contain LSU's running back.
"They run the power, the power lead, the power toss, the belly," said Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables. "They've got the speed to attack the corners, but they definitely want to run it down your throat."