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.