Friday, January 3, 2014

Orange Bowl Preview: Ohio St (12-1) vs Clemson (10-2)

        The last time these two met, it was in the Gator Bowl some years ago. Woody Hayes ended an illustrious coaching career with a phenomenally stupid moment, punching a Clemson linebacker after an interception. Will something of that nature occur here? No, absolutely not. But in this one offensive gymnastics will be in no short supply, so it may be almost as fun to watch as that must have been. Some important spreads, I have gathered, have Buckeyes by 3 here, so let's say anything might happen. The Tigers, for their part, haven't lost to any bad teams this year, but are coming off a bitter loss to in state rival South Carolina. That is some sort of nasty, in state rivalry down there, so I imagine Clemson desperately wants to go out on a good note. Of course, Ohio State would, if they had their way, not be playing in this one, but Urban Meyer will hopefully muster the troops for a good effort against a good team in what is still a big bowl game.

        The Tigers, as stated, have two losses this year. We all remember, so long ago, a much publicized matchup against Florida St. Then 3 Clemson was slightly favored, in a game at home which would, some said, prove whether Jameis Winston was the real deal. He handed the Tigers their worst loss at home, ever. A nice, 51-14 thrashing, and all of a sudden Tajh Boyd was out of the Heisman
He's still a talented quarterback, looking to have a big game
conversation, and Clemson was out of the picture. They, as I have heard it so aptly said, had to eat the humble pie here, no doubt. There's just no getting around a 37 point loss at home, when a team is supposed to be one of the best in the nation. No explaining, no pointing to one moment or one aspect of the defeat. That's simply embarrassing. But, to the Tigers credit, they have done everything they can since then, which means they have done nothing but win for the rest of the season, until of course the ill fated matchup against the Gamecocks. So here they are, at the end of another strong season, looking for what would probably be an upset victory. Just because everyone has forgotten about senior Tajh Boyd (and his 67.7 completion %) doesn't mean he isn't talented. I predict he'll have a big game, a final statement before the draft, and the entire Clemson offense should like like a fairly stellar unit. Also listen, of course, to hear the names of WR Sammie Watkins (the best in this year's class, after A&M's Mike Evans) and the less exciting but almost as solid WR Martavis Bryant. These two should be targeted a lot, but this offense can hurt you on many levels, so a high scoring affair is in order. They will be helped by an at times questionable Ohio State defense, of course, letting up over 360 yards a game.

Two great players who play great together
        Well I couldn't leave you without some mention of the two headed monster. Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde are licking their chops, I imagine. While the mood of the team is tough to predict (so close to punching their ticket, as I have said they really would rather not be in this game) here's hoping they show up and make Clemson's life difficult. Miller in and of himself is a nightmare for defenses, elusive to the extent that you really don't know where any play is going. ("The most elusive and exciting runner in Ohio State history," according to some.)  Couple that with 238 lbs of running back that moves like 200, you have quite the duo. No, more than quite the duo. If both of these guys play well, Ohio State is not going to lose. These are two of the best in college football.

        So a lot of points will be scored, but that much you knew already. I will have to side with the Buckeyes here, as simply the better team perhaps? Clemson really did not look good on November 30th against the Gamecocks, and while of course Ohio State didn't come out with a win against the Spartans in the Big 10 Title game, they looked just a shade better. They still played poorly though and lost comfortably, and both teams will play better in this one. In the end, we have two great quarterbacks set for a duel for the ages, hopefully.  Ohio St 38-Clemson 31.

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