Well, well, the Buckeyes get to head south for their bowl game rather than west. Oh well, it wasn’t our first preference, but let’s go Orange Bowling. The bowl game that we know as the Orange Bowl was inaugurated in 1933 as the Palm Festival. The bowl game was renamed the Orange Bowl and under the new name, the first game was played on January 1st, 1935 between Bucknell and Miami, won by Bucknell 26-0. From 1935 through 1988, this contest was known as the Orange Bowl. From 1989 – 2010, buttressed by corporate sponsorship, it was renamed the FedEx Orange Bowl. Moving from logistics to financial services, the game was renamed again in 2010 as the Discover (Financial) Orange Bowl.
The protagonists this January are the Ohio State University Buckeyes, Big Ten Conference (12-1, 8-1) and the Clemson Tigers, Atlantic Coast Conference (10-2, 7-1). Both teams have a brief history in playing in the Orange Bowl, and have played one another. The Buckeyes enter this game averaging 46 points on offense, while giving up 21 points. The Tigers average 40 points on offense and 21 on defense. The early line is Ohio State -2.5 with an over/under of 67, so Vegas is anticipating both teams scoring in the mid-30′s. They are probably right. Look for a high scoring game. Without much further ado, let’s get into the preview.
Ohio State in the Orange Bowl
Ohio State is not a stranger to this game. Its previous contest was on January 1st, 1977 when the #11 Ohio State Buckeyes (8-2-1) played the #10 Colorado Buffalos (8-3) from the Big Eight Conference. Colorado jumped out to a 10-0 1st quarter lead, then Rod Gerald led an offensive surge featuring TD runs by Jeff Logan, Pete Johnson, of course, and Gerald, himself. The OSU defense tightened to shut out Colorado after the 1st quarter, and the Buckeyes headed back home with a 27-10 win. Video courtesy of Vico, erstwhile of OHD.
Clemson in the Orange Bowl
Clemson has made three previous trips to the Orange Bowl:
Ohio State vs Clemson
This game will be the 2nd meeting between Ohio State and Clemson. The first game was in the 1978 Gator Bowl, won by Clemson 17-15. It’s also remembered as the Hayes-Bauman Bowl, where Woody go fed up with Clemson’s shenanigans. The play-by-play was furnished by Keith Jackson..
Fortes: I see the strengths as a strong, fundamentally sound offensive line, quality depth and diversity in the running game, game-breaking receivers, a fairly solid defensive line and a top-notch punting game.
Foibles: Defensive back seven, the linebackers are talented but spotty and the secondary is a train wreck. The running game is somewhat inflexible in that with Miller at QB there is no option game due to his challenges with making reads. This takes away the element of indecision from a defense.
Oh, and to add to that? The team’s leading pass rusher is out for the game, their all-conference defensive back is not expected to play, and the middle linebacker has been hurt all season. At least the rest of the team has been health… what? There’s a 24 hour stomach flu that’s been going around during bowl prep? Awesome.
Clemson Scouting Report
Let’s not kid ourselves, the strength of this team is the play of QB Tajh Boyd. He has thrown for over 3,470 yards this season, completing passes at a 67% rate and averages 289 YPG. Tajh averages 31 pass attempts per game, so he’s not shy about passing. His TD/INT ratio is 29/9. As a complement, the Tigers run the ball 42 times per game at a decent enough 4 yards per attempt.
Clemson runs enough to ease pass pressure and to set up the play action pass; other than that, as often as they run the ball, it’s not much of a threat. Their defense gives up as many points, and about a dozen yards per game fewer than OSU’s, so although it may not be a foible, it’s not particularly a strength, either. Senior RB Rod McDowell (5’10″, 200) has contributed 80 YPG at 5.4 yards per carry.
As good a season as Clemson has had, they do have a mixed record versus top team this season. They opened the season by beating Georgia 38-35. Georgia was ranked #5 at the time, and currently at 8-4 is ranked #23. Clemson later got bomber by Florida State 51-14 and ended the regular season losing to South Carolina 31-17.
tBBC Staff Picks
I polled the tBBC Staff for their game predictions. We do manage to agree on a few things and this was one of them. Ohio State atones for their only loss in two years by winning this game.
I’m picking the Buckeyes to bring home the bowl of oranges this year. Despite the fact that Ohio State’s weakness (secondary play) doesn’t match up well with Clemson’s strength (passing). I think that OSU gets back to its inside power running game, which really, no one has really stopped this year. This will gain yards, set up the passing/edge running game, score points and burn sufficient clock to limit Clemson’s possessions. On defense, we will be aggressive and creative, since there will be coaches who will/should be coaching for their jobs next season. Ohio State will eke out a nail-biting 38-35 win.
This game kicks off at 8:30 PM EST and will be broadcast on ESPN. Please join us here at tBBC approximately 30 minutes before kickoff for our LiveChat.
One of Clemson’s backup QB’s is Chad Kelly of western New York. Chad is the nephew of all-time-great Buffalo Bills quarterback, Jim Kelly. Also, back when I was in the corporate world, Chad’s mother worked for me. A nice family.