AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Clemson’s Boyd-Watkins combo too much for Ohio State in Orange Bowl


This year’s trip to Miami was much more pleasant than the last time the Clemson Tigers were playing in the Orange Bowl. Demons were exorcised by Clemson in one of the wildest games of the bowl season, one that has served up plenty of drama and fantastic endings and moments. Perhaps none were as tense as Clemson and Ohio State each turned the football over in the final minutes.

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd threw five touchdowns and rushed for one more as Clemson’s offense was too much for Ohio State to keep pace with in the Orange Bowl Friday night in Miami.  Boyd passed for 365 yards and 227 of those went to wide receiver Sammy Watkins in a career game —  and also an Orange Bowl receiving record —  as the Tigers held off Ohio State in a 40-35 Orange Bowl victory. What a way to go out for both players.

Clemson rolled up 577 yards and 24 first downs on the Buckeyes defense. In addition to his 370 passing yards, Boyd also led all players with 127 rushing yards, averaging 14.2 yards per carry. His Ohio State counterpart, Braxton Miller, had a good night for the most part by passing for 234 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 35 yards and two more touchdowns. But Miller took more rough shots from Clemson’s athletic and feisty defense, led by Vic Beasley. Miller was visibly banged up in the game and he was picked off twice, including one on Ohio State’s final possession of the game. Ohio State had Carlos Hyde lead the ground game with 113 rushing yards and a touchdown, but whatever reason the Buckeyes backed away from the running game late when it may have been early to abandon it.

After winning the first 24 games of Urban Meyer’s career as Ohio State head coach, the Buckeyes suffered back-to-back losses in the postseason including the Big Ten championship game loss to Michigan State. Clemson is slowly putting to rest the idea the Tigers cannot win a big game. Clemson came from behind to beat LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last season, and they came from behind to top Ohio State this year as well.

Clemson will look for some new playmakers in 2014 as they attempt to stay near the top of the ACC and continue battle with Florida State for ACC supremacy. Clemson’s 2014 season will start on the road at Georgia. The Tigers upended the Bulldogs in one of the season’s most attractive games in week one, and the 2014 opener in Athens could be another entertaining match-up to look forward to. But first, Clemson will have to make sure they can keep their coaching staff together. Although Clemson’s coaching staff is paid handsomely, offensive coordinator Chad Morris continues to be an attractive coaching name. As the carousel continues to rotate, his name could likely remain in the conversation.

Ohio State will open the 2014 season in Baltimore against Navy a week before hosting Virginia Tech for another game against the ACC. The Buckeyes will wait to see if Miller will return or head to the NFL Draft. Ohio State does seem to have a favorable schedule in 2014, but a road trip to Michigan State on November 8 should be circled on your calendar right now.

Stanford loses FB Daniel Marx for the season to leg injury

Conrad Ukropina, Daniel Marx
Associated Press
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Fullbacks are a dying breed in college football. So for those who appreciate when one of the sport’s finest positions is actually on the field (yours truly included), it’s tough when one goes down to injury.

Especially just before his team’s biggest games of the season.

Just ahead of a date with Notre Dame and the Pac-12 Championship, Stanford fullback Daniel Marx will miss the remainder of the Cardinal’s season with what the program is describing a “lower leg injury.”

“It’s tough,” Stanford head coach David Shaw told ESPN Tuesday. “Daniel has had a phenomenal year. This is a guy who is going to play on Sundays. He’s that good — a very versatile football player.”

A sophomore, Marx has not rushed the ball this season, but he does have three receptions for 25 yards to his credit. Far more importantly, he’s paved the way for Christian McCaffrey to accumulate 260 carries for 1,546 yards and seven touchdowns.

Headed into a showdown against No. 4 Notre Dame with the Cardinal’s College Football Playoff hopes hanging by the thinnest of threads, Marx’s absence will be missed.

Stanford will turn to senior Chris Harrell in Marx’s stead.

“We have a lot of faith in Chris,” Shaw said. “We have a combination of guys we may use at that position. Chris has prepared as a starter.”

Don’t ask Mark Richt about his job status

Mark Richt
Associated Press

Mark Richt is deep in preparations for his 15th game against downstate rival Georgia Tech. He’s also closing in on the end of a hectic, disappointing regular season, one in which many questions about his job status have arisen.

Combine those two facts and add in some uncomfortable questions and you get a feisty, possibly paranoid Richt.

“Who made you ask that question?” Richt said  when asked about his job status, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I know you didn’t think of that one. My focus is beating Georgia Tech right now. That’s my answer to you.”

Then another arrived, this time from the hometown Athens paper. “Then I probably won’t answer it, I can tell you that,” Richt said when appraised of the nature of the question. “So go ahead.”

It is worth noting, according to the AJC, Richt provided those terse answers through smiles and a chuckle.

“My focus right now is Georgia Tech,” Richt finally answered. “Who made you ask that one?”

Richt then attempted to head off another job question before learning the inquiry was actually about the Bulldogs’ offensive line.“You’re gonna ask the same one? We  can end this thing as fast as you want,” Richt said. “I’m here to talk about the game.”

Georgia plays Georgia Tech Saturday. By Sunday, Richt will have to find a new reason to avoid answering questions about the only subject fans care to hear.

Oklahoma, Iowa move into top four in latest College Football Playoff rankings

C.J. Beathard, Zach Poker, Mike Caprara
Associated Press

The fourth set of College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night, and Clemson is No. 1 for the fourth consecutive week. Alabama remained second, and Oklahoma leapt from seventh to third after winning their second consecutive game against a top-20 team. Iowa moved up a spot from fifth to fourth, and Michigan State jumped from No. 9 to No. 5 after its massive road win over Ohio State.

Ohio State fell from third to eighth due to that loss. Baylor passed the Buckeyes for No. 7 following their decisive win at then-No. 6 Oklahoma State, and Notre Dame dropped from fourth to sixth after a close win a Boston College.

Washington State, Mississippi State, UCLA, Toledo and Temple jumped into the rankings, while LSU, Houston, Memphis, USC and Wisconsin fell out.

The full rankings:

1. Clemson
2. Alabama
3. Oklahoma
4. Iowa
5. Michigan State
6. Notre Dame
7. Baylor
8. Ohio State
9. Stanford
10. Michigan
11. Oklahoma State
12. Florida
13. Florida State
14. North Carolina
15. Navy
16. Northwestern
17. Oregon
18. Ole Miss
19. TCU
20. Washington State
21.  Mississippi State
22. UCLA
23. Utah
24. Toledo
25. Temple

Finalists for O’Brien, Outland, Bednarik, other awards announced

Christian McCaffrey
Associated Press

A slew of finalists for college football’s major individual awards were announced Tuesday evening, highlighted by multi-award finalists Derrick HenryChristian McCaffrey and Deshaun Watson. Eleven of the 12 awards listed below (excluding the Burlsworth Trophy) are members of the National College Football Awards Assocation and will have their winners announced during ESPN’s Home Depot 25th Anniversary College Football Awards Show, to be broadcast from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta on Thursday, Dec. 10 (7 p.m. ET).

The winner of the Rimington Award as the nation’s top center will also be revealed on ESPN’s show, but finalists aren’t announced until Monday, Dec. 7.

The finalists are:

Maxwell Award (best overall player)
Derrick Henry, Alabama
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
Deshaun Watson, Clemson

Davey O’Brien Award (best quarterback)
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Deshaun Watson, Clemson

Doak Walker Award (best running back)
Leonard Fournette, LSU
Derrick Henry, Alabama
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

Biletnikoff Award (best wide receiver)
Corey Coleman, Baylor
Josh Doctson, TCU
Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss

John Mackey Award (best tight end)
Hunter Henry, Arkansas
Austin Hooper, Stanford
Jordan Leggett, Clemson

Outland Trophy (best interior lineman)
Spencer Drango, Baylor
Joshua Garnett, Stanford
A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama

Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player)
Tyler Matakevich, Temple
Carl Nassib, Penn State
Reggie Ragland, Alabama

Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back)
Jeremy Cash, Duke
Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
Desmond King, Iowa

Lou Groza Award (best kicker)
Daniel Carlson, Auburn
Jake Elliott, Memphis
Ka’imi Fairbairn, UCLA

Ray Guy Award (best punter)
Michael Carrizosa, San Jose State
Tom Hackett, Utah
Hayden Hunt, Colorado State

Burlsworth Trophy (best walk-on)*
Luke Falk, Washington State
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Carl Nassib, Penn State

Wuerffel Trophy (best community servant)
Ty Darlington, Oklahoma
Landon Foster, Kentucky
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana

* – winner not announced at ESPN awards show