Clemson Tigers vs. Iowa State Cyclones: Cheez-It Bowl Prediction & Game Preview - 12/29/2021

by Chuck Sommers

Cheez-It Bowl

Game time: 5:45 p.m. ET
Venue: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL
Where to watch: ESPN

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: Iowa State -1.5
BetMGM: Iowa State -1.5
Caesars: Iowa State -1.5

Season record
Clemson: 9-3
Iowa State: 7-5

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Clemson - Iowa State preview and analysis

It took a late run, but the Clemson Tigers have finally started to play to their capability. But with some big changes on the horizon for the Clemson coaching staff, one constant remains: Dabo Swinney.

It’s not a national championship, but it’s still a 14th straight appearance in the postseason for Swinney and the Tigers. Clemson will be playing in the Cheez-It Bowl and face the Iowa State Cyclones.

The Tigers had high hopes coming into this season. They started the year ranked 3rd in the AP Top-25, but three losses through seven games and the lackluster quarterback play compared to years’ past pushed Clemson down and out of ACC contention.

But Clemson capped off the regular season with five straight wins, including a Clemson-like dominant 21-point victory at home against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons was the perfect way to send the Clemson seniors off.

As mentioned, though, the quarterback play was not like Trevor Lawrence or Deshaun Watson of yesteryear. Sophomore quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei completed only 54.7 percent of his passes to lead an offense that averaged just 26.8 points per game. Uiagalelei averaged 191.5 passing yards per game while leaning heavily on a running game that has been a staple in Clemson lore.

One has to wonder what would’ve happened if Uiagalelei was anywhere near the caliber of Lawrence or Watson. But the constant of the Swinney Era has been the Tigers’ defense, and they came to play for most of this year.

Giving up only 15 points per game, Clemson’s defense held teams to below 310 yards per game, as well as allowing less than 100 rushing yards. So when you talk about the irresistible force meeting the immovable object, watching Iowa State record-breaking running back Breece Hall go against this defense is going to be a fun matchup.

The Cyclones cooled off in their final five games, going 2-3 and losing to Oklahoma and Texas Tech. But Hall has scored a rushing touchdown in 24 straight games, setting an NCAA record. Lest we forget the running back also ran for almost 1,500 yards in his senior year. Brock Purdy has been living the luxury life despite a down year from Iowa State.

ISU’s defense is no slouch either in a year where defense reigned supreme in the Big 12. Not as dominant as Baylor or Oklahoma State, but they only gave up 20.6 points per game while Purdy and Hall led an attack with 32.8 per game.


Iowa State is going to try and break the dam with the running game, but this season showed if you can hold Hall to limited production, you can win. Texas Tech and Oklahoma both held Hall to under 60 yards rushing but couldn’t keep him out of the end zone. Clemson’s defense is on another level and I like the Tigers to rally and notch another double-digit win campaign. Clemson by 10

Betting trends

Iowa State is 18-19 ATS in their last 37 games.

Iowa State is 3-4 ATS after allowing 14 points or less in its previous game.

Clemson is 5-1 ATS after a stretch of covering in four of its last five.

Clemson is 48-25 ATS in its last 73 following a cover as a double-digit favorite.

Statistical leaders

Passing: D.J. Uiagalelei – 2,059 yards, 9 TD, 9 INT
Rushing: Will Shipley – 678 yards, 10 TD
Receiving: Justyn Ross – 514 yards, 3 TD

Iowa State:
Passing: Brock Purdy – 2,984 yards, 18 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Breece Hall – 1,472 yards, 20 TD
Receiving: Xavier Hutchinson – 953 yards, 5 TD

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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