Betting the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl: Oklahoma vs Clemson


The Big 12 finally gets into the bowl season in a big way on Monday by being in all 3 scheduled bowls. First up is West Virginia vs. Texas A&M in the Liberty Bowl (2PM ET) and in the nightcap, the mighty Texas Longhorns take on Arkansas in the Advocare Texas Bowl (9PM ET). Sandwiched between the both of those games, the Oklahoma Sooners take on the ACC in Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl. The Blitz has taken a look at the spread, the totals, the stats, and this is what we’ve come up with; all with you in mind to take it to the window in confidence. Let’s set the table:

The Game: 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl

Who: Oklahoma Sooners (8-4), (4-4 Big 12) Clemson (9-3), (5-2 ACC)

Time and Place: 530pm ET ESPN, Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando FL

Weather: 82 degrees and 85-90% humidity

The Line: Oklahoma (-4) Over and Under: 52 points

There had to be some slight digging on this one, a little research on the Blitz’ part to give you the story lines to get to the Brass Tacks of the betting line. Should you take Clemson and the +4? Maybe it’ll be a high scoring game, as some of the bowls have been so far. Shootouts, where the Over is destroyed in the 3rd quarter, has been on the menu of late. At 52 points, it sounds like an easy play, especially since Oklahoma has scored UNDER 30 points only once this year. What about Clemson’s Defense Coordinator Brent Venables? This will be a reunion of sorts for him and his old team at Oklahoma (Venables was DC at OU from 2004-2011). Might he have some inside information on Bob Stoops‘ tendencies that’ll be key to stopping the Oklahoma Offense, led by Running Back Samaje Perine? Let’s crunch the stats:

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Clemson Stat Line: 

Defense, defense, and even more defense. It’s the key to the Tigers’ success. They hang their hat on it by only allowing their opponents 17 points per game. Again, DC Brent Venables has been a key asset to this. Only 4 times was an opponent allowed to go past the 20 point mark in losses to Georgia, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and in wins versus North Carolina the Heels surpassed the mark. In the rushing defense category, Clemson ranks 6th out of all FBS teams in Opponents Yards Per Carry at around 2, and in Yards per Game at under 100 in 97. It’ll be key in trying to stop the already mentioned freshman sensation Perine, who holds the FBS record in most yards in a game at 427. Oklahoma also runs the ball with efficiency while being ranked nationally at 8th and 6 yards per carry and 268 yards per game.

So what’s left? Can Clemson score on offense? With QB Deshaun Watson out and backup senior Cody Stoudt in, Clemson could struggle in finding points, leading many on the Tigers sideline to hope for a defensive game. Bottom line is going to have to score on both sides of the ball to win this ballgame.

Oklahoma Stat Line:

This isn’t the bowl game Oklahoma had in mind when they started the season at #4 in the nation. After an impossible win in the Sugar Bowl last year against Alabama, Oklahoma seemed primed to enter 2014 as a Final Four shoe-in. 4 losses later, including 3 losses at home, and the Sooners are back to the drawing board after one of their most disappointing seasons in Bob Stoops’ reign. Can the Sooners right the ship one last time going into 2015 to give themselves something to look forward to?

One bright spot was of course Samaje Perine. The true freshman had 1579 yards on 240 carries with 21 TDs this season for a 6.6 yards per carry average. OU’s offense scored nearly 40 points per game for an 11th in the nation ranking and has held their opponents to just under 25 points per game.

The Bottom Line and Pick:

With Deshaun Watson out for Clemson and Trevor Knight for Oklahoma healthy after going out against Baylor, as well as Sterling Shepherd for Knight to throw to, Oklahoma should finally have their balanced attack back and ready to go. Bob Stoops has won 4 out of the last 5 bowl games he’s coached in, making sure his troops are prepared. Their last loss in that period was in 2012 in the Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M. If the Sooners bring their A-rushing game, Clemson could have a hard time stopping them.

The Pick? Take the Sooners -4

It might seem like an ‘Unstoppable Force Meeting an Immovable Object’ at first, but the Sooners should prevail 31-17.

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