Orange Bowl 2012: 5 Bold Predictions for Clemson and West Virginia

Johnathan CaceCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2012

Orange Bowl 2012: 5 Bold Predictions for Clemson and West Virginia

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    The Rose, Fiesta and even the Sugar Bowl have dominated the talk about the BCS bowls, but the Orange Bowl will also be one of the most entertaining bowls of the season.

    Dana Holgorsen and Chad Morris are two of the most brilliant offensive minds in the game, and their quarterbacks Geno Smith and Tajh Boyd are poised to be two of the nation’s best next year.

    Here are five bold predictions for the 2012 Orange Bowl.

Points, Points and More Points

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    One of the biggest issues for both teams has been tackling in space. Another issue has been defending mobile quarterbacks. While Boyd and Smith aren’t the quickest guys in the world, they can scramble out of the pocket.

    Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey are all incredibly elusive—Austin and Watkins are both in the Top 5 nationally in all-purpose yards. With both teams relying so heavily on the pass, those receivers will get a lot of action. The over/under on this game is at an inexplicable 61.5 so if you want to make some money, put a few dollars on the over.

Dwayne Allen Will Have a Monster Game

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    The only tight end projected to be drafted in the first round is Clemson’s Dwayne Allen, and he is a matchup nightmare for just about every team he has faced. West Virginia will have even more trouble.

    The Mountaineers got dominated by a Syracuse team that Dana Holgorsen admitted was “big and physical." If they couldn’t handle Syracuse, Allen could have a career game in the Orange Bowl.

There Will Be a Return for a Touchdown

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    Tavon Austin and Sammy Watkins are two of the most electrifying return men in the game right now. They have over 1,500 kickoff return yards and three returned for touchdowns between them on the year.

    Watkins is the most likely guy to do it because West Virginia ranks 110th out of 120 teams in kickoff defense. But Clemson ranks 84th in punt return defense and Austin is sixth in punt return yardage. Special teams touchdowns aren’t the norm, but the odds that one happens in the Orange Bowl are a lot higher than most.

Bruce Irvin Reminds the Nation of How Good He Is

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    Irvin burst onto the national scene last year after posting 14 sacks which was second in the country. He started out this season slowly but has five of his seven sacks in the past four games.

    Clemson’s offensive line is allowing over two sacks per game and he is the only real threat to consistently get to the quarterback. Expect the Mountaineers’ best defender to make an impact in this game.

Whoever Gets the Most Sacks Will Win the Game

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    Andre Branch and Brandon Thompson are both first-round draft picks, and Bruce Irvin is trying to get back to his 2010 form. With NFL scouts at the game in droves, they will all have big games. Clemson’s cornerbacks don’t match up well with Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, and West Virginia’s won’t be able to cover Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins.

    That leaves the defensive lines to get pressure on the quarterbacks to keep the ball out of the hands of the stud receivers. Whoever gets more sacks will more than likely win the game.