Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Fla.
Jan. 3, 2014
Ohio State vs. Clemson
An early look at the matchup: The Orange Bowl features two teams with dynamic offenses with tons of speed and bend but don’t break defenses. The immediate draw is to the quarterback position with dual threats Braxton Miller and Tajh Boyd running the show for Ohio State and Clemson, respectively.
Each quarterback has their fair share of weapons to work with, but Braxton Miller and Ohio State do most of their damage on the ground. Miller threw for 1,860 yards and 22 touchdowns while also accumulating an impressive 1,033 yards and 10 scores on the ground. The Buckeyes have a versatile run game with Carlos Hyde in the backfield. He and Miller can gash defenses consistently with the read-option, but when Miller is under center, there is a high likelihood that he is handing the ball to Hyde (1,408 yards and 14 touchdowns). Wideouts Philly Brown and Devin Smith each accumulated 655 receiving yards and combined for 18 touchdowns. They are the top deep threats for OSU.
Boyd looked to run much less than he did last year, and with a threat like Sammy Watkins at wideout, it’s hard to blame him. Boyd had a big year for the Tigers, throwing for 3,473 yards and 29 touchdowns. Watkins, with 85 catches, 1,237 yards and 10 touchdowns, was by far Boyd’s favorite target. Clemson ranked 12th in the country with an average of 329.3 passing yards per game. On the ground, Clemson’s biggest threat is senior Roderick McDowell, who rushed for 956 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per carry.
Both of these offenses can score from anywhere on the field, so the defense that can force turnovers and expose their opponents’ weaknesses have the best chance to win the game. Clemson will have to force Braxton Miller to beat them with his arm because it will be an enormous challenge to stop the Buckeyes’ fourth-ranked rushing attack. Conversely, the Ohio State defense will need to key in on Boyd and Watkins, while limiting big plays from Clemson’s average-at-best running attack.
What we like about this game: It will be a treat to watch two of the country’s most athletic quarterbacks go head-to-head in Braxton Miller and Tajh Boyd. Coupled with that, both of these teams are feeling a bit disrespected. Neither team has that signature win that earns them national respect. Clemson was destroyed in October by Florida State and lost to South Carolina and Ohio State was edged by Michigan State in the Big Ten title game. Both teams are looking for that season-defining win.
Something you might have not known: Ohio State and Clemson have only faced each other one time: the 1978 Gator Bowl. That Gator Bowl is infamous for being the last game coached by the Buckeyes’ Woody Hayes. In a famous incident, OSU trailed 17-15 late in the game and the Buckeyes were looking to go ahead, but Art Schlichter was intercepted by Clemson’s Charlie Bauman. After Bauman was shoved out of bounds, Hayes infamously punched Bauman through his face mask. Hayes was fired by Ohio State the next day after 28 years as head coach.
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