Discover Orange Bowl Preview
Jan. 2, 2014
Ohio State makes its first official BCS appearance since the 2010 Rose Bowl Game when it heads to the Orange Bowl to take on Clemson. The game will be contested in Miami Gardens, Fla. at 8:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 3. The Buckeyes will be making their 43rd official appearance in postseason competition, having last appeared in the 2012 Gator Bowl. OSU is 12-1 on the season, with its only loss coming to Big Ten Champion and eventual Rose Bowl Champion Michigan State in Indianapolis last month. Ohio State will officially appear in its ninth BCS contest, which is tied with Oklahoma for the most appearances all-time in the BCS era. OSU is 5-3 overall in its previous eight BCS contests, and the five victories tie the Buckeyes with USC and Florida for most BCS bowl wins. Ohio State will take part in the Orange Bowl for just the second time after winning the 1977 game. The only previous meeting between Ohio State and Clemson was in the 1978 Gator Bowl.
The Tigers enter the Orange Bowl with a 10-2 record overall, after a 7-1 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference that left them just behind No. 1 Florida State. Overall, this will be Clemson's 36th appearance in a bowl game and the ninth consecutive year, the 10th-longest active streak in college football. Clemson, winner of 17 overall bowl wins, is in a BCS bowl for the second time in three years, something only five other schools can claim. The Tigers also played in the 2012 Orange Bowl, when they were defeated by West Virginia, 70-33. This will be Clemson’s fifth overall trip to the Orange Bowl, where the Tigers sport a 2-2 mark. Their wins came in 1951 over Miami (FL) and in 1982 when a seven-point victory over Nebraska earned Clemson the national championship. Clemson has played five current Big Ten teams a total of six times and has a 4-2 record in those games. All six of the contests were played in bowl games.
Critics are looking for this year’s Orange Bowl to be quite the offensive showdown as both teams average over 40 points a game. Ohio State ranks first in the Big Ten in scoring offense (46.3), total yards (518.5), rushing (317.5), and eighth in passing (200.9). Nationally, OSU is third in the FBS in rushing, fourth in scoring, and seventh in total offense. The Buckeyes’ scoring average was one of several school records set this season on the offensive side of the ball, which also included points scored (602), touchdowns (82), passing TDs (36) and first downs (334). OSU just needs the game to kick off to essentially set more school records in rushing yards, completions, plays, yards per play and yards per game. Ohio State has made headlines in the red zone this season, scoring on 95 percent of its trips to rank fourth nationally. The Buckeyes have converted on 57 of 60 red zone opportunities with 50 TDs and seven field goals. Braxton Miller has been the conference’s most-decorated player this season, having been named both the Graham-George Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year, and Chicago Tribune Silver Football MVP for a second consecutive year. Miller threw for 1,960 yards and 22 touchdowns with just five interceptions on the season and was equally impressive on the ground. He helped the Buckeyes to the nation’s third-best ground game by rushing for 1,033 yards and 10 touchdowns. In his last four games, he averaged 155.8 yards per contest and 9.4 markers per carry with eight scores. Carlos Hyde, the Big Ten's Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year, leads the conference in rushing with 140.8 yards per game and has scored 14 touchdowns. When OSU is forced to the air, Corey Brown (55-655 yards, 10 TDs) and Devin Smith (42-655 yards, 8 TDs) have been Miller’s primary targets.
Clemson’s defense finished the regular season ranked third in the ACC in scoring (21.1), total yards allowed (350.8), and passing (198.2), and eighth in defending the rush (152.6). The latter is less than one-half what OSU gains on the ground each time out. But the Tigers are tied for 17th nationally in points allowed and 23rd in total defense, so they have found success in stopping tough offenses this year. Clemson leads the country with 112 tackles for loss, and most of that production has come from first-team All-American Vic Beasley and Corey Crawford. Beasley is tied for third in the nation in sacks (12) and tied for eighth in tackles for loss (19). On four of his 12 sacks, he has stripped the quarterback of the ball, as he is tied for eighth in the nation in caused fumbles. Crawford totaled a team-best 16 quarterback pressures and 47 tackles, including 9.5 tackles for loss. Grady Jarrett, the third-leading tackler on the team with 77 stops, has also been a star this season, recording 10 tackles for loss and 13 quarterback pressures. Linebackers Stephone Anthony and Spencer Shuey are the top two tacklers for the Tigers. Anthony has 120 stops to go with 13.5 tackles for loss, second-most on the team, and Shuey has 110 tackles to go with three recovered fumbles. Second-Team All-ACC cornerback Bashaud Breeland has been the most productive Tiger in the secondary with four interceptions, 17 passes defended, and 66 tackles.
The Clemson offense is first in the ACC in passing (329.3), second in scoring (40.2) and total yards (502.0), as well as sixth in rushing (172.7). Seventeen different players have scored an offensive touchdown for the Tigers this year, including 13 standouts in the passing game. Quarterback Tajh Boyd, a finalist for the Unitas Award and the Manning Award, is the leader of the offense, having started a school-record 39 consecutive games. Boyd owns 58 Clemson records, including ACC marks for career touchdown responsibility (127), passing touchdowns (102), and passing efficiency (154.3). He is currently seventh in the nation in passing efficiency (166.6), as he has completed 252 of his 373 passes for 3,473 yards and 29 touchdowns. He has thrown just nine interceptions and has a 9.31 yards-per-attempt figure. His favorite target is first-team All-America wide receiver Sammy Watkins, one of three finalists for the 2013 Biletnikoff Award. Watkins has 85 receptions for 1,237 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013. He is fourth in ACC history in career receptions and fifth in receiving yards. When Watkins is not making the big play, the ball is going to Martavis Bryant, who has 39 receptions for 800 yards and five touchdowns. His 20.5 yards-per-catch figure ranks seventh in the nation and his career average of 22.9 is second-best in ACC history. The top rusher is Roderick McDowell, who has accumulated 956 yards on just 177 carries for an average of 5.4 yards per carry, which ranks third in the ACC. McDowell also has 25 receptions for 167 yards and two scores out of the backfield.