A New Year's Eve football game between Clemson and Louisiana Tech doesn't figure to generate immense national appeal.
But if high-scoring slugfests are what you prefer, the Humanitarian Bowl might just be must-see TV. The Tigers and Bulldogs will take potent offenses and porous defenses to Boise, Idaho, for the fifth-annual game (12:30 p.m., ESPN).
"I'm sure that ESPN would be relatively happy, because there are going to be points scored," third-year Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said Friday.
Saying points will be scored might be a considerable understatement. Bowden's offense is led by senior quarterback Woody Dantzler, who became the first player in NCAA history to accumulate 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in the same season.
Dantzler helped the Tigers amass 421.5 yards and 29.1 points per game in accounting for 72.6 percent of Clemson's total offense.
The Bulldogs' offense averages 422.6 yards per game, most having come by the arm of quarterback Luke McCown. The sophomore threw 28 touchdown passes and was named second-team All-Western Athletic Conference.
The similarities between the teams extend to the other side of the ball, where stopping others has been a difficult task. Louisiana Tech (7-4, 7-1 WAC) has given up 31 points per game while Clemson (6-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) has surrendered 28.6 per contest. Both teams have been particularly susceptible defending the pass. Bulldogs' opponents have averaged 237 passing yards per game, and the Tigers have yielded 226 a game through the air.
"There's things we feel we have a chance to be successful with after looking at the film," said Bowden, whose team lost four of its past six games. "I'm sure they see the same thing after looking at our defense."
A high-scoring game wouldn't be foreign to the Humanitarian Bowl, which has seen high scores in each of its four years of existence. The lowest combined point total was 54 in the 1997 inaugural game, when Cincinnati beat Utah State 35-19.
The bowl's average point total is 64.25 points.
"Most of our games have been like that," Bowden said. "We've had to outscore people."
The offense will have to do it without the services of senior tailback Travis Zachery and junior left tackle Akil Smith, both of whom were kicked off the team after having been arrested on felony drug charges.
Junior Bernard Rambert is listed as the No. 1 tailback, and Bowden said sophomore fullback Chad Jasmin could see some action at tailback. Junior Derrick Brantley has been moved to left tackle from right tackle, where he started the last four games.
Since Dantzler had 64 more carries than Zachery, Bowden said he isn't concerned about Rambert and Jasmin becoming fatigued.
"The duties are split there anyway as far as carries," he said. "It shouldn't be a problem."
Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645.
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