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Sneak Peek: 2014 Orange Bowl

Woody Hayes AP

WHO: 10-2 Clemson vs. 12-1 Ohio State

WHAT: The Orange Bowl (80th year)

WHERE: Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida

WHEN: Jan. 3 at 8:30 p.m. ET

WHY: While it may be simplistic — and I’m nothing if not simple — the key to the outcome of this game could very well come down to the answer to a singular question: can Ohio State’s beleaguered secondary even remotely slow down Clemson’s high-powered passing game? That’s going to be a helluva lot easier said than done.

The Tigers, led by quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins under the leadership of offensive coordinator Chad Morris, boast an aerial attack that averages nearly 330 yards per game, a total that’s currently 11th in the country.  The Buckeyes, on the other hand, are 103rd in passing yards allowed, giving up an average of 259.5 yards per game.  Over the past four games, OSU has given up a total of 1,267 yards (317 ypg) to the likes of Indiana’s Nate Sudfeld, Illinois’ Nathan Scheelhaase, Michigan’s Devin Gardner and Michigan State’s Connor Cook, none of whom will ever be confused with Tajh Boyd.

Adding to OSU’s secondary woes is Bradley, the Buckeyes’ top cover corner who will likely miss the Orange Bowl due to a knee injury.  Not only that, but Noah Spence will be sidelined due to a three-game suspension.  The defensive lineman leads Ohio State in sacks and would’ve been expected to help apply pressure on Boyd in the hopes of forcing the senior into mistakes.

The good news for the Buckeyes is they have the offensive firepower to at least match the Tigers’ explosiveness.  Quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde have combined 2,441 yards on the ground and 4 rushing touchdowns despite missing multiple games due to injury (the former) and suspension (the latter).  When it comes to defending the run, Clemson shades toward the middle of the pack (50th at 152.6 ypg).

Miller could also test the Tigers’ stingy 16th-ranked pass defense with his arm, having completed more than 63 percent of his passes in 2013 and throwing 22 touchdowns in what amounts to 10 games.

The only previous meeting between the two programs came in the 1978 Gator Bowl when, well, this happened.  Wayne Woodrow Hayes, you will always be The Man despite the misguided emotion that connected with Charlie Bauman‘s throat.

Both teams are coming off tough double-digit losses to end their “regular” seasons, with the Buckeyes falling 34-24 to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game — snapping OSU’s 24-game winning streak — and the Tigers getting dropped 31-17 by in-state rival South Carolina.

As important as the game is to each program individually, its crucial for the battered images of their respective conferences.  Thus far this postseason, current members of the ACC are 3-6 while the Big Ten is 2-4.

The Orange Bowl is the final 2013-14 postseason game for the Big Ten, while the ACC has Florida State in the BCS title game Monday night remaining.

PREDICTION: Clemson 48, Ohio State 42

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9 Responses to “Sneak Peek: 2014 Orange Bowl”
  1. dkhhuey says: Jan 3, 2014 3:56 PM

    From my couch coaching position (barstool would be more accurate) I have to believe that Urban rides on the back of our running game to keep the ball out of Clemson’s hands. We have athletic talent on defense, however, our linebackers and DBs are young and make horrid decisions at times and are obviously suspect to giving up the big plays or causing PI penalties.

    OSU’s offense CANNOT make more than a few mistakes and must be able to put the ball into the endzone on a majority of possessions. Is Clemson going to have success on offense – no doubt about it. It will come down to whether our defense can muster up several stops or cause turnovers to limit the damage done!

    Personally, I put my faith in Urban’s ability to use a month’s worth of time to put together a game plan to win the game – his record proves that out!

    Either way – I know this team will come out and play at maximum effort and in the end, that is all I can ask for!

    GO BUCKEYES!!!

  2. CBFAN says: Jan 3, 2014 4:09 PM

    My thoughts exactly. OSU offense has to produce on time consuming drives. Keep the defense off the field as much as possible.

    O..H..

  3. noletrole says: Jan 3, 2014 4:10 PM

    this game is 50/50 to me… you might even say if they played ten times, clemson would win five.

  4. Charles Olson says: Jan 3, 2014 4:13 PM

    Reblogged this on CHARLESOLSONSPORTS.COM and commented:
    Really looking forward to this game tonight. I think it should be a high-scoring affair, as both teams are lacking on defense.

    Coming off of that disappointing performance in the Big 10 championship game, I think Ohio State won’t be as sharp as they need to be to beat Clemson.

  5. brutusbuckeye2011 says: Jan 3, 2014 5:26 PM

    If tOSU’s pass defense can hold Clemson’s pass attack under 250 yards they win. If Clemson can keep tOSU’s run game under 200 yards they win. This should be a high scoring affair.

  6. totallysirius says: Jan 3, 2014 6:50 PM

    CBFAN says: Jan 3, 2014 4:09 PM

    My thoughts exactly. OSU offense has to produce on time consuming drives. Keep the defense off the field as much as possible.

    O..H..

    ——————————————————

    Exactly, that is how OSU should play this game.

    …..I…O

  7. classyjacklambert says: Jan 3, 2014 7:34 PM

    Clemson’s got the better qb, wr corps, and defense. OSU probably had the better rb, should be a good game but expect Clemson to pull away in the end.

  8. clemsonstillsucks says: Jan 3, 2014 8:21 PM

    I think you’re going to find a few Buckeyes in the Tigers’ scat next week.

    (Been saving that one for weeks…that one was in honor of Jack).

  9. classyjacklambert says: Jan 3, 2014 8:34 PM

    Haha thanks CSS… Truly touching.

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