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2014 Discover Orange - Clemson 40, OSU 35

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 3, 2014


2013-2014 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl

Orange Bowl
Clemson 40, Ohio State 35
Basically … Tajh Boyd threw five touchdown passes and ran for another, but he threw two memorable picks, unable to get one pass over Vonn Bell on the goal line, and almost giving away the game on a late interception. However, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller gave it right back in the final moments, not seeing LB Stephone Anthony. Martavis Bryant gave the Tigers a 20-9 lead in the second on the first of two three-yard touchdown catches, but Ohio State came back with 20 straight points for the lead. Then it was all Boyd with touchdown passes to Watkins and Bryant before the Buckeyes seemed to take control. Miller threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more, finding Carlos Hyde for a 14-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth for a one-point lead, but the offense couldn’t get back on the board. Boyd was great – starting out the scoring on a 48-yard touchdown, but Sammy Watkins was better, ripping apart the Buckeye secondary from 34 and 30 yards out on the way to a record-setting Orange Bowl day.

- Penalties: Clemson 15 for 144 yards – Ohio State 6 for 60 yards
- Turnovers: Ohio State 4 – Clemson 2
- Third down conversions: Clemson 7-of-13 – Ohio State 2-of-13 - Clemson QB Tajh Boyd completed 31-of-40 passes for 378 yards and five touchdowns with two picks, and ran 20 times for 127 yards and a touchdown. - Clemson WR Sammy Watkins caught 16 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns.
- Clemson DE Vic Beasley made five tackles with a sack and four tackles for loss.
- Ohio State QB Braxton Miller completed 16-of-24 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns with two picks and ran 18 times for 35 yards and two touchdowns.
- Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde ran 25 times for 113 yards and a touchdown.
- Ohio State LB Joshua Perry made a game-high ten tackles with a sack.
- Ohio State P Cameron Johnston punted five times averaging 48.2 yards per kick putting three inside the 20

CFN PREVIEW

Ohio State (12-1) vs. Clemson (10-2) Jan. 3, 8:30, ESPN

Here’s The Deal … It might not be quite fair, it might not be quite right, but the entire 2012 Big Ten and Ohio State seasons hinge on this game.

It was all well and good that Michigan State won the Rose Bowl – that’s all anyone will really remember – but a Buckeye loss would do two things. 1) For those fans who care about conference score checks, it would be a disaster for a Big Ten after Michigan clunked, Wisconsin lost, Iowa couldn’t hold its own, Minnesota was a wreck, and newcomers Rutgers and Maryland were clowned, and 2) it’ll be easy fodder for the Buckeye naysayers who never really bought into the idea that this was a national title-level team.

You don’t go 12-0 in a BCS league – even against a weak schedule – without doing something right, and while this might be an extremely disappointing bowl to be in for a team that was a quarter away from playing for the national title, 13-1 would be a special season and would almost would almost certainly mean a top five finish.

It would also set the stage for what should be an even brighter future.

Urban Meyer is just getting started, and with great recruiting classes coming in, the talent level isn’t going anywhere but up. Ohio State will be a regular in the College Football Playoff debate for years to come, but for now, just beating Clemson and finishing the year strong would be enough.

The Tigers got their breakthrough moment last season with the stunning Chick-fil-A comeback win over LSU, and even though they proved they were for real early in the year with a win over a healthy Georgia, blowouts against Florida State and South Carolina made the Dawg win seem like it happened in the Danny Ford era.

Like Ohio State, Clemson has been recruiting at an elite level and won’t tumble any time soon, but this is a culmination of a great era with QB Tajh Boyd at the helm and WR Sammy Watkins – who’s a mortal lock to take off for the NFL – playing their final games. They were part of the resurgence and explosion of Clemson football, and just like the big losses this year erased most of the positives, closing out with a win over the Buckeyes would all but eliminate the negatives.

Like the Big Ten, the ACC could use a splashy performance. Boston College, Duke, Maryland, Miami and Georgia Tech all lost, and while Pitt, Syracuse and North Carolina held up their ends of the bargain, and Florida State could make everything else moot, Clemson is the league’s No. 2 team – it needs to beat the Big Ten’s No. 2

It would also be nice if Clemson could exorcise its 2012 demons after getting destroyed by West Virginia 70-33 two years ago as part of a run of absolutely brutal Orange Bowls. The last five games, and six of the last seven, have been decided by ten points or more, and the last three games – Stanford over Virginia Tech, West Virginia over Clemson, and Florida State over Northern Illinois – were decided by a total score of 141 to 55.

Before last year’s win over LSU, Clemson lost five of its previous six games bowl games and is currently 5-11 in bowls since winning the 1993 Peach. Ohio State lost the 2012 Gator Bowl to Florida and dropped four of the last six after going on a five-game bowl winning streak.

This is only the second time the two programs have met, and no matter what happens, it won’t be as memorable as the 1978 Gator Bowl, when Woody Hayes infamously punched Charlie Bauman, who sealed the 17-15 Tiger win with a pick.

Players to Watch: It’s the final moment in the phenomenal career of Tajh Boyd, who hit 67% of his passes for 3,473 yards and 29 touchdowns with nine picks. It might not have been the tremendous year of 2012, and he threw more touchdown passes in 2011 – that could change with a big day against the Buckeyes – but he has closed out the season red hot. Fine, so he threw two picks against South Carolina and no touchdown passes in the loss, but he hit 70% of his throws. After struggling against Florida State in a disaster of a performance, he ripped it up with three straight 300-yard performances, threw five touchdown passes against Citadel, and connected on 83% of his throws against Virginia and 77% against Georgia Tech. This wouldn’t be his crowning achievement – flip a coin between the LSU win last year and the ACC championship over Virginia Tech in 2011 – but it would be a fitting end.

Sentimentality, though, goes out the window when one team is blasting the other in the mouth with the running game. The Ohio State coaching staff admitted that Carlos Hyde didn’t get the ball enough in the Big Ten championship loss to Michigan State. 18 carries is usually a nice workload, and Braxton Miller did his part to keep the ground game going, but Hyde is the one who sets the tone. He’s the power back who takes the will away from a defense, but he can also take off for a big dash here and there, averaging 7.69 yards per carry. What if he hadn’t been suspended for the first three games of the season? Play out the numbers, and over 13 games he’d have easily blown past the 2,000-yard mark and might have pushed hard for the Heisman. 1,408 yards and 14 scores are pretty good, too.

Hyde and Miller are fine for the Ohio State offense, but the defense is taking a bit hit, with the suspension of Noah Spence up front and the expected absence of corner Bradley Roby to a knee injury. It’s not like the D was a brick wall to begin with, struggling against both Michigan and Michigan State, but junior LB Ryan Shazier didn’t have any problems. How involved has he been? Over the last four games the All-American has come up with 62 touchdowns with 16 against Illinois, 20 against Indiana, 14 against Michigan and 12 against MSU. A dangerous pass rusher as well as a big-time tackler all over the field, he has a huge NFL future ahead of him, even though he’s projected to be a second round draft grade – he’s not huge. Once he works out in the scouting circuit, though, he’ll move up the charts in a hurry.

Sammy Watkins won’t have to sell the NFL types on the idea of being a first rounder. While he doesn’t have Calvin Johnson prototype size and bulk, he makes up for it with electrifying quickness sub-4.4 speed and big-time playmaking ability averaging 14.55 yards per catch with ten touchdowns. Not just a deep threat, he became a better all-around target in a more focused and effective junior year after a mediocre 2012. With the shaky OSU secondary without Roby, Watkins should come up with a huge performance.

Ohio State will win if … Hyde and Miller lead the Buckeyes on long, sustained drives. Ohio State can hit the home run, and it can speed up the tempo enough to keep up the pace whenever needed, but this game is all about keeping Boyd off the field. Michigan’s Devin Gardner and Michigan State’s Connor Cook did whatever they wanted against the OSU secondary, and Boyd is far, far better. The Buckeyes have to be ready to deal with a wee bit of a shootout, but the more Hyde can grind out the clock and make Boyd press, the better. Boyd will bomb away, but he’ll also throw picks, giving away three against Duke and two against both NC State and South Carolina over the last five games. Clemson can be pounded on by teams that commit to the run, but most get behind and have to start throwing. Ohio State won’t ignore Mr. Hyde like it did in Indianapolis.

Clemson will win if … Boyd gets time to operate and he gets hot early. Clemson is a rhythm team that seems to build off of emotion – it’s not necessarily and adversity team. The problem for Boyd is an offensive line that gives up way too many sacks and too many pressures, and Ohio State will dial up the intensity. The problem might be manufacturing a steady pass rush without top sacker Noah Spence, possibly needing to take a few chances from other spots on the front seven. Boyd needs to get the ball out of his hands in a hurry, be decisive in his reads, and make the smart, veteran play time and again. Ohio State wants to keep the chains moving? Boyd can do that, too – he doesn’t have to try to hit the home run to Watkins on a regular basis.

What Will Happen: If you liked the shootouts in the Fiesta and Sugar, you’ll love the Orange. Both teams will go up and down the field in a wild shootout, but Ohio State will come up with one big late drive to finally put away Boyd, who’ll throw for well over 300 yards. Hyde will be the difference.

Prediction: Ohio State 45 … Clemson 40
Line: Ohio State -2.5 … o/u: 69
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EARLY QUICK PREVIEW

Ohio State vs. Clemson
Oates, Garfunkel, 2013 Ohio State and Clemson. The two power programs are playing second banana in their respective conferences to Michigan State and Florida State, as those two get to have all the fun in Pasadena, albeit in different games. However, there’s a chance for Ohio State to finish in the top four in the final rankings, depending on what happens in the other big games, while for Clemson, after the tremendous win over LSU in last year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl, this could be another shot at legitimacy after failing miserably in two of the three big games this year – beating Georgia in the opener, but getting blown away by Florida State and losing to South Carolina.

Three Reasons Why You Have To Watch This Bowl

1. No matter what happens in this game, it can’t be more interesting or eventful than the only time the two hooked up. Clemson won the 1978 Gator Bowl 17-15, but no one remembers that. Charlie Bauman would go into college football lore as the guy who was sucker punched by legendary Ohio State head coach Woody Hayes following an interception. Urban Meyer is unlikely to continue the tradition.

2. Ohio State is back in a big-time bowl game. Had they been eligible, and had they gotten by Nebraska in the 2012 Big Ten championship, the Buckeyes – not Alabama – would’ve played Notre Dame for the national title. The 2011 transition team lost to Florida in the Gator Bowl, but before that, BCS bowls were part of the norm, going to six straight under Jim Tressel.

3. There’s a chance this could be the most impressive of the BCS matchups, at least outside of the BCS championship. Clemson came into the season as one of the HOT programs, and it has the firepower and the talent to test an Ohio State defense that couldn’t stop a mediocre Michigan State attack and was clowned by Devin Gardner and Michigan.

And Why You Shouldn’t Care A Lick: Helped by Clemson’s 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the 2012 game, the Orange Bowl has been awful since Kansas beat Virginia Tech 24-21 in 2008. The last five games have been blowouts with varying degrees of interesting, including the Florida State light scrimmage against NIU last year.

Three Names To Drop To Make Every Man Want You And Every Woman Fear You

1. QB Tajh Boyd, Sr. Clemson – It’s debatable, but at least in terms of stats, Boyd is the greatest quarterback in ACC history. However, he never quite gets his due nationally because his team doesn’t always come up with the big wins in the clutch moments – 156 yards and two picks against Florida State this year was part of the problem. If he and Clemson win this, he goes out as a true Tiger legend.

2. RB Carlos Hyde, Sr. Ohio State – When asked if he thought he should’ve given Hyde more than 18 carries against Michigan State, Urban Meyer glumly mumbled, “yup.” The big, bruising back was cranking out 6.6 yards per carry against the Spartans, yet the offense started to go away from him in key moments in the second half. The Urbster isn’t going to make the same mistake twice.

3. WR Sammy Watkins, Jr. Clemson – After a down sophomore season, Watkins came back roaring with 85 catches for 1,237 yards and ten scores on the way to earning a spot as a Biletnikoff finalist. He was held in check – relatively speaking – by Florida State and South Carolina, scoring against the Seminoles but failing to hit 100 yards against either team. Almost certainly off to the NFL after this game, this is his chance to showcase what he can do against a good, not great, Tide secondary.

Gut-Reaction Pick That Might Change In The Next Few Days On A Whim: Ohio State 38, Clemson 13