College Football Orange Bowl Preview: #12 Clemson Tigers vs #7 Ohio State Buckeyes

2014 Discover Orange Bowl
#12 Clemson Tigers vs #7 Ohio State Buckeyes

Sun Life Stadium – Miami Gardens, Florida
Friday, January 3, 2013, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Ohio State -2 1/2
Current Line: Ohio State -2 1/2 (-115)
Opening Total: 66 1/2
Current Total: 70 1/2
Opening Money Line: Ohio State -135 / Clemson +115
Current Money Line: Ohio State -160 / Clemson +140 

Ohio State is a 2.5 point favorite against Clemson in the Orange Bowl Friday night.
Ohio State is a 2.5 point favorite against Clemson in the Orange Bowl Friday night.

The first and only meeting between Ohio State and Clemson was infamous in college football history. The Clemson Tigers beat the Ohio State Buckeyes 17-15 in the 1978 Gator Bowl. However, the game is memorable because legendary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes threw a punch at a Clemson player and was fired the next day. The two schools meet 36 years later in the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl.

The #12 Clemson Tigers are 10-2 this season. The Tigers went 7-1 in the ACC Atlantic Division behind the 8-0 Florida State Seminoles. The #7 Ohio State Buckeyes are 12-1 this season. The Buckeyes won the Big Ten Leaders Division with an 8-0 record. Ohio State lost to Michigan State 34-24 in the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis. The loss cost Ohio State a berth in the BCS Championship game against Florida State and also snapped a 24 game winning streak for the Buckeyes.

Clemson is 17-18 all-time in Bowl games. The Tigers have gone to 9 straight bowls, and have been bowl eligible for 15 straight seasons. Clemson beat LSU 25-24 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last season to snap a two game bowl losing streak for the Tigers. The Tigers are 2-5 in their last 7 games. Clemson is 2-2 all-time in the Orange Bowl but were crushed by West Virginia 70-33 in the 2011 game in their last trip here.

Ohio State is 19-23 in Bowl games all-time. The Buckeyes were banned from going to a bowl game last year because of NCAA sanctions. It snapped a streak of 12 straight bowl appearances. Ohio State lost to Florida 24-17 in the 2012 Gator Bowl in their last bowl appearance. The Buckeyes beat Colorado 27-10 in the 1977 Orange Bowl in their only appearance in the Orange Bowl.

Clemson is coached by Dabo Swinney. The Tigers have a home loss to Florida State 51-14 and at South Carolina 31-17 to close out the regular season. Clemson has home wins over Georgia 38-35, South Carolina State 52-13, Wake Forest 56-7, Boston College 24-14, Georgia Tech 55-31, and the Citadel 52-6, along with road wins over NC State 26-14, Syracuse 49-14, Maryland 40-27, and Virginia 59-10. The Tigers had won 4 straight games before the South Carolina loss. Clemson is 6-6 ATS and the total is 7-5. The Tigers were 2.5 point underdogs at South Carolina and the total was 62.

Clemson is outscoring teams 40-21 this season. Clemson is #8 in scoring and #17 in points allowed nationally out of 125 FBS teams. The Tigers are averaging 502.9 yards per game including 173.8 rushing yards and 329.2 passing yards. Clemson is #11 in passing and #11 in total offense nationally. On defense, Clemson is allowing 350.4 total yards per game including 197.8 passing and 152.6 rushing. The Tigers are +4 in turnovers with 26 takeaways. The Tigers average 42 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 52. Clemson is 96/209 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 75/219. Clemson has forced 33 sacks but has allowed 33 this season. The Tigers are 44/49 scoring in the red zone with 36 touchdowns, and opponents are 25/30 with 19 touchdowns. Clemson has 2 pick sixes and 2 fumble returns for touchdowns this season and has allowed one fumble return for a touchdown.

Quarterback Tajh Boyd has completed 67.6% of his passes for 3,473 yards with 29 touchdowns and 9 picks, along with 134 carries for 273 yards and 9 touchdowns. Back-up Cole Stoudt has thrown for 415 yards with 5 touchdowns and no interceptions, and also has 58 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. Another quarterback Chad Kelly has thrown for 58 yards, and has 16 carries for 115 yards and a touchdown.

Running back Roderick McDowell has 177 carries for 956 yards and 5 touchdowns , along with 25 catches, 267 yards and 2 touchdowns. Zac Brooks has 48 carries, 246 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 6 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. D.J. Howard has 57 carries. 213 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 8 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. C.J. Davidson has 33 carries for 152 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 2 catches. He is questionable with a knee injury.

Receiver Sammy Watkins has 85 catches for 1,237 yards and 10 touchdowns. Martavis Bryant has 39 catches, 800 yards and 5 touchdowns. Adam Humphries has 41 catches for 483 yards and two touchdowns. Mike Williams has 20 catches for 316 yards and 3 touchdowns. Germone Hopper and Jordan Legget each have 2 touchdown catches.  Receiver Charone Peak had 8 catches and a touchdown, but he is out for the season with a knee injury.  Five defensive players and two offensive linemen are listed as questionable or out Friday.

Ohio State is coached by Urban Meyer. He suffered his first loss in his two year tenure at Ohio State against Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game. The Buckeyes have home wins over Buffalo 40-20, San Diego State 42-7, Florida A&M 76-0, Wisconsin 31-24, Iowa 34-24, Penn State 63-14, and Indiana 42-14. Ohio State has road wins over California 52-34, Northwestern 40-30,  Purdue 56-0, Illinois 60-35, and Michigan 42-41. The Buckeyes are 6-6-1 ATS and the total is 9-4 this season. Ohio State was a 5.5 point favorite against Michigan State and the total was 53.5.

Ohio State is outscoring teams 46-21 this season. The Buckeyes are #3 in scoring and #21 in points allowed nationally. OSU is averaging 519.7 yards per game including 200.9 passing and 318.3 rushing yards. The Buckeyes are #3 in both total and rushing offense, #91 in passing. On defense, Ohio State is allowing 362.2 yards per game including 259.5 passing and 102.6 rushing yards. The Buckeyes are #5 in rush defense, #106 in pass defense, and #30 in total defense. Ohio State is +7 in turnovers with 22 takeaways. The Buckeyes average 45 penalty yards per game and opponents average 37. OSU is 89/176 on third and fourth down conversions, and opponents are 79/215. The Buckeyes have forced 40 sacks and allowed 17 this season. Ohio State is 57/60 scoring in the red zone with 50 touchdowns and opponents are 31/39 with 26 touchdowns. The Buckeyes have 2 pick sixes, a punt return and a fumble return for touchdowns, and have allowed a punt return and an interception return both for touchdowns.

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller has completed 63.2% of his passes for 1,860 yards with 22 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with 153 carries for 1,033 yards and 10 touchdowns. Miller missed a couple of games earlier in the season with a knee injury. He was replaced by Kenny Guiton. For the season, Guiton has completed 68.8% of his passes for 749 yards with 14 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, along with 40 carries for 330 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Running back Carlos Hyde has 183 carries for 1,408 yards with 14 touchdowns, along with 14 catches for 108 yards and touchdowns. Jordan Hall has 81 carries for 536 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 12 catches for 53 yards. Ezekial Elliott has 30 carries for 262 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 3 catches, 23 yards and a touchdown. Dontre Wilson has 22 catches for 216 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 28 carries for 226 yards and a touchdown. Cardale Jones and Rod Smith each have a rushing touchdown.

Receiver Philly Brown has 55 catches for 655 yards and 10 touchdowns. Devin Smith has 42 catches for 655 yards and 8 touchdowns. Jeff Heuerman has 25 catches for 409 yards and 3 touchdowns. Evan Spencer has 22 catches for 216 yards and 3 touchdowns. Chris Fields has 16 catches for 193 yards and 6 touchdowns. Receiver James Clark and tight end Blake Thomas are both out for the season. Eight defensive players are listed from questionable to out, inlcluding 5 defensive backs.

Clemson is 2-6 in bowl games and 1-5 against teams with winning records.

Ohio State is 23-8-1 after a straight up loss, 36-16 on grass, 15-7 in non-conference games, 43-21-2 against teams with winning records, 0-4 after rushing for 200 yards or more, overall and after allowing 280 passing yards or more.

In the first 3 BCS games in 2014, the underdog has won all three straight up. Michigan State beat Stanford 24-20 in the Rose, UCF beat Baylor 52-42 in the Fiesta, and Oklahoma beat Alabama 45-31 in the Sugar. Clemson certainly could make it 4 for 4. Ohio State is a great team, but they struggle to stop the pass, and I could see Boyd and Watkins carving up the Buckeye secondary. Plus, there is the motivation factor. The Buckeyes had plans to go to Pasadena to take on Florida State for the national title, but those plans were derailed by a very good Michigan State team. On the other hand Clemson was blown out by the two best teams they faced Florida State and South Carolina. I see a ton of points in this game.

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