West Virginia Mountaineers and Clemson Tigers Face Off In Orange Bowl

2012 Discover Orange Bowl
Sun Life Stadium – Miami Gardens, Florida
#23 West Virginia Mountaineers vs #15 Clemson Tigers
Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Pick
Current Line: Clemson -3 (-115)
Opening Total: 60
Current Total: 64
Opening Money Line: Clemson -115 / West Virginia -105
Current Money Line: Clemson -160 / West Virginia +140

Clemson a surprising double-digit favorite on Saturday afternoon
The Clemson Tigers are 3 point favorites against West Virginia in the 2012 Orange Bowl Wednesday night.

The 9-3 West Virginia Mountaineers, champions of the Big East, take on the 10-3 Clemson Tigers, champions of the ACC in the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl Wednesday night in Miami. This is one of only four bowl games this season that matches up 2 conference champions. That is something not even the BCS Championship game can say.

West Virginia led by Dana Holgerson in his first year as coach won the Big East title because they won the tie-breaker over Cincinnati and Louisville. The Mountaineers have losses to LSU, Syracuse, and Louisville this season. West Virginia has wins over Marshall, Maryland, Bowling Green, UConn, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Pitt and South Florida. The Mountaineers have won 3 straight games. West Virginia is 13-17 all-time in bowl games and lost last season’s Champs Sports Bowl 23-7 to North Carolina St. The Mountaineers are playing in a bowl for the tenth straight year. West Virginia is one of three programs in the country to win at least 9 games for 7 straight seasons.

Clemson started off the season 8-0 but lost 3 of 4 down the stretch. The Tigers recovered to beat Virginia Tech 38-10 in the ACC Championship game to clinch their first Orange Bowl berth since 1981. Clemson has losses to Georgia Tech, North Carolina St, and South Carolina all by double digits. The Tigers have wins over Auburn, Florida St, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Maryland, North Carolina, and Wake Forest. Clemson is 16-17 all time in bowls. The Tigers lost the Meineke Car Care Bowl last year to South Florida 31-26. Clemson has gone to seven straight bowl games including this one, but are only 2-4 in those games. Clemson and West Virginia have played only one other time in history, despite the fact that the two schools are less than 500 miles apart. Clemson beat West Virginia 27-7 in the 1989 Gator Bowl.

The Mountaineers are averaging 459.6 yards a game, including 341.8 passing yards and 117.8 rushing yards. West Virginia is #17 in total offense the passing game is ranked #7 in the country. West Virginia is averaging 34.9 points, which is #20 in college football. West Virginia has 21 turnovers and has allowed 26 sacks. The Mountaineers are 72/182 on third and fourth down conversions, and 47/54 scoring in the red zone with 34 touchdowns. West Virginia is allowing 340.3 total yards a game, including 199.6 passing yards a game. WVU allows 140.8 rushing yards a game.   The Mountaineers are allowing 26.2 points a game. The Mountaineers have forced 19 turnovers and 28 sacks. West Virginia opponents are 76/206 on third and fourth down conversions, and 39/46 scoring in the red zone with 27 touchdowns. The Mountaineers have 5 defensive/special teams touchdowns, but have given up 6.

WVU quarterback Geno Smith is 314/483 passing (65% completion), for 3,978 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions, plus a rushing touchdown. Running back Dustin Garrison has 136 carries, 742 yards, and 6 touchdowns, along with 24 catches for 201 yards. Garrison is out with a knee injury. Shawne Alston has 77 carries, 339 yards, and 10 touchdowns. Vernard Roberts had 44 carries, 140 yards,  and 3 scores, along with 4 catches. Roberts missed the last 7 games due to being ineligible and will miss this game as well. Andrew Buie has 38 carries, 127 yards, and a touchdown, along with 9 catches. Receiver Stedman Bailey has 67 catches, 1,197 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Tavon Austin has 89 catches, 1,063 yards, and 4 touchdowns, along with 13 carries, 142 yards and a rushing touchdown. Austin has just under 2,300 all purpose yards for the Mountaineers, and also has 2 kickoff returns for  touchdowns this season. Ivan McCartney has 47 catches, 572 yards, and 3 touchdowns.  Tyler Urban has 2 touchdown catches, and Brad Starks has 4. Starks is out for the season with a knee injury. Kicker Tyler Bitancurt is 51/53 on extra points and 16/22 on field goals with a long of 45 yards. Three defensive players are listed as questionable or out for the Mountaineers.

Clemson is averaging 441.5 yards, including 284.8 passing yards and 156.8 rushing yards. The Tigers are averaging 33.6 points a game. Clemson has 20 turnovers and has allowed 30 sacks this season. Clemson is 98/221 on third and fourth down conversions, and 42/50 scoring in the red zone with 31 touchdowns. The Tigers are allowing 379.4 yards including 176.5 rushing yards and 197 passing yards a game. Clemson is allowing 26.2 points a game. The Tigers have forced 22 turnovers and have 24 sacks this season. Tiger opponents are 85/216 on third and fourth down conversions, and 35/42 scoring in the red zone with 21 touchdowns. Clemson has 4 defensive/special teams touchdowns.

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is 274/453 passing (60.5% completion) for 3,578 yards with 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, along with 132 carries, for 186 yards and 5 touchdowns. Running back Andre Ellington has 213 carries, 1,062 yards, and 10 touchdowns, along with 22 catches for 119 yards.  Mike Bellamy and D.J. Howard also get significant carries and each has at least one touchdown run. Bellamy has three but is suspended for the bowl game. Receiver Sammy Watkins has 77 catches, 1,153 yards, and 11 touchdowns, along with 31 carries for 229 yards. Watkins has over 2,000 all purpose yards and has a kickoff return for a touchdown DeAndre Hopkins has 62 catches, 871 yards, and 4 touchdowns. he is probable with a concussion. Dwayne Allen has 48 catches, 577 yards, and 8 scores. Jaron Brown has 29 catches, 382 yards, and 4 touchdowns.   Kicker Chandler Catanzaro is 49/50 on extra points and 20/25 on field goals with a long of 47 yards.

Clemson is 8-5 against the spread and the total is 6-7 this season. West Virginia is 6-6 ATS and the total is 8-4 this year. The Mountaineers are 6-0 ATS in Wednesday games, 7-1 as an underdog of 3 points or less, 5-1 as an underdog, 11-4 against teams with winning records, 2-5 in January, 5-13 against ACC teams, 1-4 in bowl games, after a cover, and in neutral site games. The Tigers are 5-1 ATS after a cover, 6-2 after a straight up win, 7-3 after a straight up win of 20 points or more, 3-8 as a favorite of 3 points or less, 1-3-1 in January games, 2-6 in neutral site games, 1-4 overall and on grass, 1-5 in bowl games and as a neutral site favorite, 1-6 as a bowl favorite, and 0-5 against Big East teams

This should be another high scoring bowl game as both teams have great offenses and not so great defenses. Though some people complained about the BCS match-ups when they were announced, there have been 3 games so far. All have come down to the final possession, and two of the three have gone into overtime. I expect another close game in this one, and I think West Virginia pulls off the mild upset. This could come down to which explosive playmaker, Austin for West Virginia or Watkins for Clemson makes the biggest impact.

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