A showdown between two elite offenses and dynamic quarterbacks lived up to its billing.
Ohio State and Clemson combined for 75 points and 1,003 yards of total offense, but it was Clemson who prevailed to win the Orange Bowl, 40-35.
Clemson’s Tajh Boyd outdueled Ohio State’s Braxton Miller both through the air and on the ground in a game with five lead changes – including four in the last 17 minutes of regulation. Boyd completed 31-of-40 passes for 378 yards and five touchdowns while also running for 127 yards and another touchdown. His favorite target Sammy Watkins was an absolute beast on the night, hauling in 16 catches for 227 yards and two touchdowns.
The game got off to an exciting start when Boyd and Miller both scored on long touchdown runs to kick off the scoring. Boyd later found Watkins for his first touchdown of the night before a great punt by Ohio State led to a Boyd intentional grounding penalty in his own end zone. The penalty resulted in a safety for OSU to make things 14-9 Clemson.
Clemson followed with a Martavis Bryant touchdown catch before the Buckeyes responded with two touchdowns late in the second quarter to take its first lead of the game, 22-20, at half time.
Ohio State expanded its lead early in the third on a one-yard Carlos Hyde touchdown run before two Buckeye turnovers changed the course of the game.
After Hyde’s touchdown, the Buckeyes forced a Clemson punt, but OSU’s Philly Brown fumbled the punt and gave the Tigers awesome field position at the OSU 33-yard line. Three plays later, Boyd found Watkins in the end zone for a great leaping touchdown catch two get Clemson within two points, 29-27.
Braxton Miller threw an interception on Ohio State’s ensuing possession, giving the Tigers great field position again – this time at the Ohio State 38-yard line. Clemson again capitalized when four plays after the interception, Boyd found Bryant on a fade route for another acrobatic touchdown catch that put Clemson in front 34-29.
The resilient Buckeyes again quickly responded to start the fourth quarter. Miller led the offense on a 10-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a Carlos Hyde 14-yard touchdown catch to retake a 35-34 lead, but, of course, Clemson punched back. Boyd and the Tigers offense countered with its own 75-yard drive. This one took 13 plays and was capped off by a Boyd touchdown pass on a throwback screen to Stanton Seckinger on third and goal from the five-yard line to make the score 40-35 Clemson.
On a night that defense was nowhere to be found, the Tigers defense finally stepped up. After OSU advanced past midfield, Miller was strip sacked by Bashaud Breeland and Clemson recovered.
The Tigers looked to close out the ballgame, but Boyd inexplicably threw an interception to C.J. Barnett on a third down play to give Ohio State new life.
Only 48 yards stood between the Ohio State offense and a potential game-winning score, but Miller was picked off by Stephone Anthony to seal a crazy win for Clemson.
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