Oh what I would give to hear Gordon Gee comment on how his (former) school barely sold half their ticket allotment for their game in Miami. But, I get it. Columbus and Miami are polar opposites. Miami is all about about Cuban food, house music, and LeBron James. C-Bus is about cholesterol, the Blue Jackets, and burning LeBron jerseys in trash barrels.
Pun intended, the Orange Bowl always seems like the ginger stepchild of the BCS games. But that’s not to say tonight won't be entertaining. Especially if you like offense. The Buckeyes return to their first bowl since their suspension and are hoping to return to bowl game dominance. Since 2007, the Buckeyes have gone 2-4…granted five of those six games consisted of a Fiesta Bowl, Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Two National Championships.
Even with last year’s terrific win against LSU, Clemson has also been pretty mediocre in bowl games and have gone 2-5 since 2007. Their most recent Orange Bowl appearance was the 2012 classic in which a Geno Smith-led West Virginia team slaughtered the Tigers 70-33.
Clemson Offense/Ohio State Defense
If Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins are their kinetic selves, they’re going to have a lot of fun with the Buckeye secondary. Boyd and Watkins are still as good of a combo as anyone in the country and Ohio State’s secondary is its weakest area. Boyd, who was swept under the rug after the loss to FSU, still had a great season as he threw for 3,473 yards with 29 touchdowns, completed 67.8% of passes, and also ran for 9 scores.
Ohio State has a terrific defensive line and didn’t allow a 100-yard rusher until the Big 10 Championship against Michigan State. With defensive end Noah Spence suspended, the Buckeyes’ defense will be in the hands of All-American linebacker, Ryan Shazier. In Clemson’s two losses to Florida State and South Carolina, the teams were able to beat the Tigers by putting a lot of pressure on Boyd and thus eliminating the big-play Watkins from the equation.
Ohio State Offense/Clemson Defense
As predicted and not unlike the Fiesta Bowl, this game’s going to have a lot of offense. Ohio State is averaging slightly more yards per-game than Clemson and the Buckeyes are ranked third in scoring offense with an average of 46.3 points per-game.
The dynamic Braxton Miller will lead the Ohio State offense in what could be his last collegiate game. Miller, who missed some time early in the season, averaged just over 260 total yards per game (169.1 passing, 93.9 rushing). Ohio State also has a great tailback in Carlos Hyde, who ranked 5th nationally in rushing yards per game with 140.8.
Clemson’s defense is led by First Team All-ACC defensive end, Vic Beasley. Beasley, who recently got a second round NFL draft grade, has yet to make a decision on turning pro. Despite being rated lower than where some would’ve thought, Beasley is still one of the best defensive ends in the country and will be the key for Clemson shutting down Miller and Hyde.
Advantage: Ohio State
This is very likely Chad Morris’ final game as Clemson’s Offensive Coordinator as the former Lake Travis guru is overdue for a head-coaching gig.
After leaving Lake Travis in 2009, Morris served as Todd Graham’s offensive coordinator at Tulsa for one year before joining Dabo and the Tigers in 2011. Morris also interviewed at Texas Tech after Tommy Tubs literally “left it all on the table”. However, after the Wayfarer Wonder got the job, Morris decided to stay at Clemson and not seek elsewhere.
TV: 7:30 (Central), ESPN
Prediction: Ohio State 45, Clemson 42