It certainly was not easy, but Ohio State has reached halftime of the Orange Bowl with a 22-20 lead on Clemson. A late touchdown drive led by Braxton Miller ended with the Big Ten’s best player finding room to run in to the end zone to give the Buckeyes their first lead of the night. Ohio State had trailed 20-9 earlier in the second quarter.
Tajh Boyd came up with a big play right on the game’s opening drive. On a third down with two yards to go from the Ohio State 49-yard line, Boyd ran right up the middle fo the Buckeyes defense for s career long 49-yard touchdown run and the early 7-0 lead. Prior to that run the longest run of the season for Boyd had been for 17 yards. Ohio State responded on the ensuing possession, first by faking a punt and picking up a first down and later by seeing their quarterback break a big run for a touchdown. Miller’s found a path to the left sideline and raced 33 yards toward the end zone, holding up momentarily to get a defender off his course.
Clemson got right back at it on offense, wasting little time moving down the field. This time wide receiver Sammy Watkins showed off his speed with a big run down the left sideline and then creating room in man coverage down the middle of the field for a 34-yard touchdown catch from Boyd to cap a quick four-play, 75-yard drive. Clemson’s next offensive possession actually resulted in points for the Buckeyes though. Pinned down on their one-yard line, Clemson gave up two points when the Buckeyes forced Boyd to let go of a pass that was ruled as intentional grounding. A pair of other penalties on the offensive line would have resulted in a safety regardless of the intentional grounding.
Big plays would continue for Clemson as they used speed to their advantage on both sides of the football. Clemson has kept Ohio State’s defense on their toes while racking up over 350 yards of offense in the half. Both teams would pick up touchdowns before the half but each missed an extra point attempt, but Ohio State capitalized on a late half turnover on downs by Clemson. Ohio State traveled 64 yards in five plays for the final score of the half with 12 seconds to spare.
Ohio State is still in need of some major adjustments. Clemson’s athleticism is already starting to wear down Ohio State’s defense, and lineman Joey Bosa has battled injury throughout the half and may not be back on the field for the rest of the game the way the second injury timeout looked. The offense has struggled to find any momentum, but perhaps the late score will change the story of the game in the second half.
Still, this is anybody’s game going in to the second half.