Clemson Football will play Tennessee in the Orange Bowl in just under two weeks. Here are a few bold predictions for the game.
There will be more pumpkin orange than orange in the stands
Clemson wears orange. It doesn’t need an adjective to describe it.
Tennessee wears pumpkin orange. They don’t like to call it that. They call it Tennessee orange but we aren’t blind: it’s pumpkin.
Texas wears burnt orange. That’s appropriate. Their defense gets burned a lot.
Oregon State’s shade didn’t even have a name. They just call it Beaver orange.
Those are niche oranges. Offshoot oranges. Derivative oranges. Clemson orange needs no introduction. It’s orange. Real orange. The best orange.
I predict there will, however, be more pumpkin orange in the stands on December 30th than orange. That is not a put-down of Clemson fans. We know Tiger Nation travels and spreads out the $2 bills.
Tennessee’s history over the past decade is not the same as Clemson’s. Volunteer fans have been starving for an opportunity at a relevant bowl game. Their last major bowl game was the Chick-Fil-A (Peach) Bowl in 2009.
I have family that is part of Vol Nation. While the late-season hiccups were disappointing, they are still very excited about how well this season went for Tennessee. I think they will have the edge in enthusiasm for dishing out the funds to pay for a trip to Miami to see the game.
Cade Klubnik will have his first game with multiple touchdown passes
The Vols’ passing defense is atrocious. They are ranked 125th in the nation in passing yards allowed against FBS competition per teamrankings.com
Let that sink in: Tennessee’s pass defense is ranked ten spots behind North Carolina’s (115th).
Klubnik will put points on the scoreboard. He thrived running the offense against a defense that wasn’t overly complicated to figure out. I think a young quarterback like Klubnik is at his best when he doesn’t have to process too much.
Clemson tends to finish off drives with the run, but I think there will be some big plays through the air in this game. Some of those plays will be in the red zone.
Clemson will hold Tennessee to less than 100 yards rushing
On the other side, Tennessee’s Joe Milton III will step in for the injured Hendon Hooker. Milton is a big guy with a strong arm, but he lacks accuracy.
Clemson has learned a bit about how defenses scheme for a strong quarterback who lacks accuracy.
Clemson Football will need to keep Tennessee in check on the ground
Tennessee is an elite passing offense…with Hooker behind center. There is a reason he beat Milton out in 2021, and why Milton transferred out of Michigan.
Tennessee’s best option to stop Klubnik and the Tiger offense is to keep Clemson’s defense on the field by running the ball against the Tigers. Their run game did step up in their last regular season game….against Vanderbilt.
Tennessee ranked 17th in rushing yards per game, which is good. When they played top-ranked rushing defenses, the results were modest.
When they played Georgia (#1 in run defense) they had 94 total yards on the ground. When they played Pittsburgh (#6 in run defense) they had 91 yards on the ground. No other rush defense on the Vols’ schedule ranked higher than 32nd.
Clemson was ranked 8th in rushing yards allowed.
It is fair to point out that Myles Murphy was highly-rated against the run, but Clemson will be plugging that hole with Justin Mascoll when they play a four-man front.
I like Clemson’s defense to hold the Vols’ offense in check. Multiple defensive players commented about the boost they felt in the ACC Championship game from knowing the offense was going to put points on the scoreboard.
Unfulfilled bold predictions for the 2022 season
I made some bold predictions before the season. I struck out on most of them but I still have a chance for one: KJ Henry to make an interception. I know it might be a long shot, but I’m going to stick with it. With the number of passes the Clemson defensive line bats up in the air, this has a chance.