Orange Bowl 2012: Highlights and Reaction from West Virginia's 70-33 Victory

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IJanuary 5, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 04:  Tavon Austin #1 and Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers celebrate after Austin caught a 37-yard touchdown reception thrown by Smith in the third quarter against the Clemson Tigers during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 4, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The West Virginia Mountaineers had lost their last two bowl games headed into Wednesday's Orange Bowl matchup against Clemson.

On Wednesday, they played like they were one of the best teams in the country.

The Mountaineers came into the game averaging 34.9 points per game, but the Tigers couldn't have been prepared for what awaited them. In fact, it didn't appear they were prepared at all.

By the end of it, the Mountaineers had blown out the Tigers, 70-33, ending what had been a Cinderella season for Clemson and making a statement about the heavily criticized Big East.



This game started out competitive. Clemson was actually leading West Virginia by the end of the first quarter, 17-14, highlighted by an electrifying 68-yard touchdown run by Andre Ellington and 27-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tajh Boyd to star freshman receiver Sammy Watkins.

After that, however, things snowballed for the Tigers in a hurry. The Mountaineers outscored the Tigers 35-3 in the second quarter alone. In short, Clemson had no answer for West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, who passed for two touchdowns and rushed for another. There was also a huge play early in the second quarter in which Ellington fumbled on the Mountaineers' goal line and Darwin Cook returned it 99 yards for a touchdown. By the end of the first half, West Virginia was leading, 49-20.

In the second half, thing didn't get any easier for the Tigers. The Mountaineers scored two quick touchdowns, highlighted by two more touchdown passes from Smith, before Boyd found receiver DeAndre Hopkins for a 28-yard touchdown with 1:37 remaining in the third quarter. But by then the score had ballooned: West Virginia 63, Clemson 26.

Midway through the final quarter, Smith added an exclamation point, throwing his sixth touchdown pass of the night to receiver Willie Millhouse to give the Mountaineers 70 points. The score set the record for most combined points in a BCS bowl game.



Clemson simply fell apart in the game. No adjustments were made as Smith continued to roll and there were times the Clemson defense simply looked lost.

On offense, the Tigers had four turnovers (two interceptions, two lost fumbles), while the Mountaineers only were intercepted when freshman Paul Millard relieved Smith in garbage time.

Clemson had a season it should be proud of...until this game. The Tigers weren't known for their defense during the regular season, but this performance was just deplorable.

Of course, you have to give credit to Smith and the Mountaineers. They came ready to play and ready to prove they weren't some scrub team from the Big East. It was a big game not only for WVU, but for the conference, and hopefully this is a sign of things to come for the Big East, which has been striving to get out of college football's dog house, highlighted by the realignment plans this season.

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