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.
Police have identified and arrested a 29-year-old Auburn, Ala. man after he allegedly set fire to one of the oak trees at the famous Toomer’s Corner.
Fans traditionally celebrate a Tigers victory by “rolling” the trees with toilet paper and did so once again on Saturday night following an 18-13 victory over LSU. However, video surveillance showed a suspect lighting some of the paper on fire, setting the tree ablaze as he walked away.
The Auburn city police department, in a release obtained by USA Today, stated that “witnesses at Toomer’s Corner identified a suspect, who was immediately detained and taken into custody by police on an unrelated charge of public intoxication.” Several reports identified the suspect as Jochen Wiest.
Firefighters quickly responded to the fire and extinguished the burning tree but university officials are still evaluating the damage to the oaks.
“From the ground we can easily see damage to the leaves and base of the tree. It is significant,” Professor of Horticulture Gary Keever said in a statement released by the school. “I expect the foliage will continue to drop. The full extent of damage may not be known for several weeks. The best case scenario would be to see a flush of new growth next spring, but right now it’s too early to tell how the tree will respond.”
The incident is all the more emotional for Auburn fans given that the tradition had just been revived this season following a three-year absence as a result of an Alabama fan poisoning the oaks. Hopefully the area around Toomer’s Corner can recover in time for the Tigers’ next win, which might be as soon as Saturday when they host Louisiana-Monroe.
Notre Dame has officially parted ways with embattled defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.
“This is a difficult decision,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “I have the utmost respect for Brian as both a person and football coach, but our defense simply isn’t where it should be and I believe this change is necessary for the best interest of our program and our student-athletes.”
Notre Dame has allowed 134 points through their first four games and are just 1-3 after extremely high preseason expectations. This was VanGorder’s third season in South Bend but the Irish have regressed significantly and ranked 101st in FBS scoring defense after Saturday’s home loss to Duke.
Defensive analyst Greg Hudson, a former Notre Dame linebacker who has served as defensive coordinator at Purdue, East Carolina and Minnesota, was elevated to fill VanGorder’s role.
“It’s never easy to make a change on your staff, but I’m confident in Greg’s ability to lead our defense,” Kelly added. “As a former player at Notre Dame and an experienced defensive coordinator, he not only understands the expectations necessary to compete at the highest level, but he’ll bring a fresh perspective to our sideline, practice field and meeting rooms.”
The move to make staff changes on the defensive side of the ball isn’t exactly surprising to Irish fans who have seen the team play this year but the timing is notable. Kelly remarked that the coaching was not the problem on defense after the loss to the Blue Devils but still opted to make a change on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if a very young defense will respond, and perhaps even rally, now that a big message has been sent.
Notre Dame plays Syracuse on Saturday at noon ET.
The firing season in college football is getting started earlier and earlier. Just ask Ron Turner.
The Florida International head coach was fired early Sunday in a move that was hardly surprising aside from its timing.
“I want to thank Coach Turner for his contributions to the FIU football program, most importantly his commitment to academics and community service,” athletic director Pete Garcia said in a short statement. “At this time Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Ron Cooper has been named interim head coach.”
Turner went 10-30 over four years at the school but was 0-4 to begin the season after a 53-14 loss to Central Florida last week. While he is far from the first coach fired in 2016, Turner did become the first head coach to be fired after the season got underway.
Cooper had a 45–55 record in nine seasons as a head coach at Eastern Michigan, Louisville and Alabama A&M. He was elevated to FIU’s defensive coordinator prior to the season and notably served as LSU’s defensive backs coach when Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu starred in Baton Rouge.
The Panthers are set to play local rival Florida Atlantic on Saturday.
The Mad Hatter is looking for a new gig.
LSU has fired head coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, the school announced on Sunday. The news was first reported by the Baton Rouge Advocate.
“Decisions like this are never easy ones to make,” athletic director Joe Alleva said in a statement. “Coach Miles has done a tremendous job here and he’s been a great ambassador for our University, which makes this even more difficult.
“However, it’s apparent in evaluating the program through the first month of the season that a change has to be made. Our commitment to excellence and competing at the highest level is unwavering, and our goals for the remainder of this season haven’t changed. We have an obligation to our student-athletes to put them in the best position to have success on the football field each week and we have great confidence that coach Orgeron will do just that.”
The move comes just hours after the Tigers lost to Auburn in the final seconds to drop to 2-2 after beginning the year as a trendy national championship pick and top five team in the polls.
Miles has been in Baton Rouge since 2005 and posted a 114–34 record at the school, including a national title in 2007 and a pair of SEC championships. He was nearly let go after the 2015 season but was retained following a huge wave of public support and potential implications with a large buyout.
Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron was named the interim head coach for the rest of the season. Former LSU quarterback and current tight ends coach Steve Ensminger is slated to become the new offensive coordinator, according to Fox Sports.