Skip to main content

Bowl Breakdown: Meineke Car Care

  • Author:
  • Publish date:

South Florida (7-5) vs. Clemson (6-6)Dec. 31, Noon (ESPN)

Reason to watch: It's likely the last chance to see Da'Quan Bowers in Clemson orange, as the Bronko Nagurksi winner should be a top five pick in this spring's NFL draft. He racked up 15.5 sacks and 25 tackles for loss in 2010 -- first and second in the nation -- and could cause all sorts of problems for a South Florida offensive line that allowed 24 sacks on the year. It's also a chance to catch the latest in the ongoing Kyle Parker saga. The Tigers' sophomore quarterback has been the target of controversy all season, both over his $1.4 million contract signing with the Colorado Rockies and his benching after a backbreaking pick-six against South Carolina. Parker will start, but it'll be interesting to see how quickly Dabo Swinney turns to Tajh Boyd if Parker makes mistakes early.

Keep an eye on: The man under center for the Bulls. Walk-on freshman quarterback Bobby Eveld was handed the offensive reins after B.J. Daniels went down with a quadriceps injury, and Eveld led the team to an overtime victory at Miami and a near upset of UConn in his only FBS start. Coach Skip Holtz hasn't announced who'll start this one, but said both will see playing time against a Tigers' secondary that surrendered just 16 passing touchdowns all season. Be sure to also monitor South Florida return specialist Lindsey Lamar, who picked up the slack for the nation's No. 103 offense by compiling 842 return yards and two touchdowns and earned Big East Special Teams Player of the Year honors.

Did you know: This will be the sixth bowl trip for South Florida running back Moise Plancher, who redshirted and was granted an extra year of eligibility after undergoing shoulder surgery as a freshman. The Bulls are 3-2 in games Plancher has attended, but dropped the first one in which he saw action: the 2005 Meineke Car Care Bowl against NC State.

Final analysis: Points should come at a premium. Both squads excel on defense, as Clemson gave up a stingy 17.8 points per game and South Florida yielded just 19.5. That places an added onus on the quarterbacks. Despite the drama, Parker should have the edge. He was efficient in last year's Music City Bowl and showed flashes of brilliance in September's 27-24 loss at Auburn. Expect a gritty performance here. Also, look for a standout game from Tigers' safety DeAndre McDaniel. A first team All-American last year, he has 15 career interceptions, third among FBS actives.

The pick: Clemson 17, South Florida 13 NFL draft analyst Tony Pauline shares his thoughts on the top pro prospects in this matchup:

Clemson: DE Da'Quan Bowers -- Bowers is the latest great defensive line talent from the Clemson program. He's a tremendous athlete who alters the momentum of games with the ability to make big plays behind the line of scrimmage. Bowers also shows the speed and skill to catch ball handlers in pursuit. Scouts do question Bowers' motor, as he has a reputation for taking plays off. Grade: First-round prospect.

South Florida: DT Terrell McClain -- McClain has been a solid player at USF the past two seasons. He's a quick, one-gap tackle who flashes the ability to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. His style makes him an attractive back-up in a four man front. Grade: Fifth-round prospect.