A quick show of hands of everybody predicting a quarterback matchup between Joe Milton and Cade Klubnik when Tennessee and Clemson were to meet in a bowl game?
Tennessee is without injured QB Hendon Hooker while DJ Uiagelelei has entered the transfer portal for Clemson.
Tennessee had the No. 1 rated offense in the country, putting up 538 yards per game. Clemson is 24th in total defense even with key players missing games this season.
Tennessee is 1-3 in its previous four Orange Bowls and that includes a 42-17 loss to Nebraska on Jan. 2, 1998 in a game that determined the national champions. The lone win in the Orange Bowl came against Oklahoma, a 17-0 victory on Jan. 2, 1939.
Clemson is 4-2 in Orange Bowls. The highlight was a 22-15 win over Nebraska on Jan. 1, 1982, that clinched the national title for the Tigers. The most recent appearance came in 2015 when the 37-17 win over Oklahoma gave Clemson a spot in the national title game.
Tennessee and Clemson came in at Nos. 6 and 7 in the College Football Rankings. Tennessee is also sixth in both national polls while Clemson is 10th in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and 11th in the American Football Coaches Association poll.
Clemson is currently listed by the Las Vegas odds as a seven-point favorite.
- Record: 10-2
- Record Against the Spread: 9-3
- Head coach: Josh Heupel, second season
- Head coaching record: 17-8 at Tennessee, 45-16 college coaching record
Hooker’s happened during a loss to South Carolina that ended the Volunteers’ hopes of being in the College Football Playoff field.
Without Hooker, Tennessee relied on its running game against lowly Vanderbilt in the final game of the regular season, as the Volunteers ran for a season-high 362 yards. Jaylen Wright led the way with 160 yards on just five carries.
Jaylin Hyatt had a spectacular regular season, averaging 18.9 yards on his 67 receptions. He had the most catches of at least 40 yards in the country. A potential first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, will he be on the field for the Volunteers?
Seven of the top eight tacklers for Tennessee are seniors with Byron Young one of the headliners with 10 tackles for loss and five sacks.
Tennessee has covered against the college football betting lines in six of its last eight games.
Scoop on Free Play from the Locker Room
- Record: 11-2
- Record Against the Spread: 7-6
- Head coach: Dabo Swinney, 14th season
- Head coaching record: 161-38
Just like Tennessee, Clemson couldn’t find a way to defeat South Carolina. Clemson also was crushed by Notre Dame and that made the ACC title game the only one among the Power-5 conferences that had no impact on selecting the four teams in the College Football Playoff.
The Tigers returned to the top of the ACC after a one-year absence after beating North Carolina in the conference title game.
Defensive end Myles Murphy is being projected as a top-five pick in some 2023 mock drafts and fellow defensive lineman Bryan Bresee and linebacker Trenton Simpson could also go in the first round and that always leaves open the possibility that they could opt out of the game.
Freshman Reed Klubnik completed 20-of-24 passes in relief of an ineffective Uiagelelei while Will Shipley is leading Clemson in rushing for the second year in a row. Freshman receiver Cole Turner, playing in his second collegiate game, had 101 yards on three catches in the ACC title game.
we all remember this play.
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) December 6, 2022
Clemson has covered against the college football odds in four of its last four games.
Tennessee vs Clemson Game Information
- When: Friday, Dec. 30, 8 p.m. ET
- Where: Orange Bowl, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL.
- Line: Clemson -7
- Moneyline: Tennessee -220, Clemson -270
- Total: 64
- Tennessee vs Clemson Live Stream: ESPN
Road to the Rose Bowl
Earlier in the season it looked like this matchup might come in the College Football Playoff. Both teams stumbled a bit. This isn’t the worst consolation prize, playing in one of the most prestigious bowl games.
Back-to-back wins against Louisiana State and Alabama sent a message that Tennessee was going to be a team to be reckoned with. However, there were some defensive issues that were overlooked while Tennessee was winning. There was no disguising those flaws in South Carolina’s demolition of the Volunteers.
Clemson wasn’t always impressive but the Tigers survived an overtime test against Wake Forest and also had hard-earned wins against North Carolina State, Florida State and Syracuse.
Clemson allowed 360 passing yards in the South Carolina loss and 263 yards on the ground against Notre Dame so how will the Tigers fare against Tennessee’s explosive offense, especially if star defenders opt out of the game?