Clemson Football takes on the Kentucky Wildcats in the Gator Bowl. Here are the details.
What: The Gator Bowl – Clemson Tigers vs Kentucky Wildcats
When: Friday noon Eastern
Where: EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida
How to watch: The game will be broadcast on ESPN and streaming on the ESPN app.
How to listen: Clemson Athletic Network and Touchdown Radio
Broadcasters: Wes Durham, Tim Hasselbeck, and Taylor Tannebaum will call the game on ESPN. As usual, Don Munson will call the game on the Clemson Athletic Network, along with Tim Bouret and Reggie Merriweather. Frank Fangie and Gino Torretta will call the game on Touchdown Radio.
Forecast: 54 degrees and sunny
Moneyline, Spread, and Over/Under:
History: Kentucky leads the all-time series 8-5. The Tigers won the most recent matchup 21-13 in the 2009 Music City Bowl. This will be the fourth time the programs have met in a bowl game, with Clemson having won twice.
Prediction: Clemson Football vs Kentucky
Clemson ended the regular season on a four-game winning streak, but the final game against South Carolina wasn’t much of a success for the Tigers offensively. Except for the game at Syracuse, Clemson’s offense struggled mightily on the road this season.
Clemson’s strength in 2023 was their defense, which steadily improved as the season progressed, even when they got younger due to injuries. The Tigers will miss Jeremiah Trotter, Ruke Orhorhoro, and Nate Wiggins, who have opted out.
On the defensive line, there shouldn’t be much of a dropoff. Both Demonte Capehart and Peter Woods have played well and will have Tyler Davis beside them.
At linebacker, Wade Woodaz or Kobe McCloud are listed as co-starters on the depth chart. I expect Woodaz to be the starter. He can’t replace Trotter, but he isn’t likely to be a liability.
The concern is at cornerback. In addition to missing Wiggins, the Tigers will also be without Sheridan Jones and Jaedyn Lukus. Clemson will only have three scholarship corners: Avieon Terrell, Shelton Lewis, and Myles Oliver.
This would be a huge concern if Kentucky excelled at the passing game in 2023, but they haven’t.
Per teamrankings.com, the Wildcats are 95th in the nation in passing yards per game against FBS competition with 195.1 yards per contest. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Devin Leary manage an above-average performance against a depleted Tiger secondary, but it doesn’t seem likely that we see anything resembling Tennessee’s performance in the air in last season’s Orange Bowl.
The outcome of the game will be decided by the Clemson offense, and as usual, it is very hard to predict what we will see. The one major positive is there is only one notable absence at wide receiver (Beaux Collins).
The Tigers will have both Will Shipley and Phil Mafah in the backfield. Antonio Williams is expected to play alongside Tyler Brown, Troy Stellato, and Adam Randall. Jake Briningstool will also be a target.
Clemson’s fortunes go as Cade Klubnik goes. If he protects the ball, Clemson has a good shot.
I mentioned Clemson was bad on the road this season, and that is very true of Klubnik individually. How will he respond in a neutral environment?
I will take Clemson to win, Kentucky to cover, and the under on points.
Clemson 20, Kentucky 17, OT
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change