Orange Bowl Slideshow: Tweets, Train, Highlights of West Virginia's Big Win
For many years, New Years Day evening meant watching the Orange Bowl game from downtown Miami, Florida. A game involving big marching bands, patriotic music, green trees and a game between college football teams in the hunt for the national championship voted on by polls.
In January, I had the chance to attend the 2012 Orange Bowl live for the first time in a game played at Sun Life Stadium near Fort Lauderdale—the home of the Miami Dolphins. The game was played on a midweek night, on January 4, which made it seem a bit after the holiday, and the weather was cool until game day, when it warmed up a bit to seem more like Florida.
Clemson from the Atlantic Coast Conference came into the game ranked ranked No. 15 and holding a 10-3 record. The Tigers were 6-2 and champions of the ACC coming off a 38-10 win over Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game. The Orange Bowl holds fond memories for Clemson, having been the site of their teams' win in the 1982 Orange Bowl which clinched the 1982 National Championship.
Their opponent from the Big East was West Virginia, ranked No. 23 and sporting a 9-3 record. The game was a significant homecoming for 20 of the West Virginia players from the state of Florida.
The Mountaineers were 5-2 in the Big East, a conference which was thought of as being in decline because of the announced defections of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC. So there was a rivalry line in motion of the Big East seeking to bolster its reputation despite West Virginia having announced its intentions to move to the Big 12 conference.
Clemson Marching Band
One of the best parts of a day of college football is the marching bands.
Clemson Tiger Takes in Florida Scene
Clemson Tiger surveying the scene in the Orange Bowl before the start of the game.
West Virginia Marching Band
Not to be outdone by Clemson was the West Virginia Band from Morgantown.
US Air Force Parachute Jumpers
The pregame festivities had much pomp and sense of place. A group of Air Force parachute jumpers dropped into Orange Bowl. Note that the game was not a sellout, with available seats in the upper deck area.
Parachute Jumper Glides onto Field
Parachute jumper landing on the field.
West Virginia Flag on Display
Lots of color and school pride were on display before the game.
Color Guard Represents All Branches of the Armed Services
Always a great sign of respect to have a military color guard at a major game like this.
Large American Flag Presented
How many times in the '60s and '70s did we see and hear Anita Bryant sing before Orange Bowl games. As befitting the occasion, a large American Flag was presented on the field.
Mountaineers Take the Field
The Mountaineers taking the field at the Orange Bowl.
Clemson Flag Enters the Field
The Clemson Flag being run onto the Florida field by cheerleaders.
Clemson Tigers Take the Field
The Clemson Tigers in their all orange colored uniforms fit right into the Orange Bowl.
Captains Meet for Coin Toss
The captains of each team meeting for the coin toss.
West Virginia Kicks to Clemson to Start the Game
After all the talk and the pregame events, the highly anticipated opening kickoff arrived.
Clemson ran the kick to their own 40-yard line. In three plays they gained but two yards and punted.
West Virginia Offense
West Virginia, coached by Dana Holgorsen, took their first possesion on their own 22 and after six plays, punted back to Clemson.
Clemson Moves Ball
Clemson moved the ball on their second drive, led by quarterback Tajh Boyd.
Clemson scored first on 68-yard run by Andre Ellington. A PAT kick by Chandler Catanzaro made the score 7-0 Clemson nine minutes and 33 seconds into the game.
West Virginia Moves on Offense
West Virginia moved the ball on their second possession taking the ball on their own 43-yard line and moving down the field to the Clemson four-yard line.
WVU Goes for TD
The Mountaineers tied the game on a four-yard run by Shawne Alston. Tyler Bitancurt kicked the PAT for WV to tie the score at 7-7 with 6:54 left in the first quarter.
Clemson Goes Ahead 14-7 on Pass Play
The Orange Bowl started to look like a shoot-out when Clemson went ahead 14-7 on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Tajh Boyd too Sammy Watkins. This capped a nine-play 62-yard drive.
With 4:38 left in the first quarter Clemson lead 14-7.
WV Ties 14-14 on Pass Play
West Virginia took the next kickoff on their on 20-yard line and moved up the field in nine plays, converting on a Geno Smith eight-yard play to Tavon Austin. With 2:49 left in the first quarter it is tied at 14-14.
Clemson Field Goal Gives Tigers the Lead 17-14
With 0:45 left in the first quarter Clemson's Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 42-yard field goal to give the Tigers a 17-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
It looked like a game where whoever had the ball last would win but the second quarter would make this a one-sided outcome.
WV Takes 21-17 Lead on Geno Smith's Second TD Pass to Austin
On its second possession of the second quarter, WV went 64 yards in six plays with Geno Smith's second touchdown pass of the game to Tavon Austin, this one for 27 yards.
The Mountaineers took a 21-17 lead with 13:25 left in the second quarter.
The Game Changes on a Huge Defensive Play by WV
With Clemson having moved the ball 75 yards down the field it looked like the Tigers would score and take a lead.
Suddenly Darwin Cook emerged from a pileup on the goal line, running with the ball the other way. Cook ran 99 yards for a defensive touchdown to give the Mountaineers a 28-17 lead.
Catanzaro was able to kick a 43-yard field goal for Clemson with 4:49 left in the second, it looked like Clemson might have weathered the disastrous fumble on their goal trailing just 28-20.
Then it happened.
WV Goes Pulls Ahead 35-20 on a Geno Smith TD Run
The Mountaineers came right back from giving up a field goal to go down the field in 64 yards in six plays culminating a seven-yard run by QB Geno Smith.
WV Interception Breaks Open Game
The Mountaineers intercepted a Tajh Boyd pass with 2:05 left in the second quarter. WV took over on the Clemson 32-yard line and converted the turnover into a decisive touchdown on Geno Smith's third touchdown pass of the half completed to Tavon Austin, this one for three yards.
WV now had control on the game with a 42-20 lead.
But the half was not over.
West Virginia Takes a 49-20 Half Time Lead
Just a 1:16 after Clemson gave up an interception that lead to WV's seventh touchdown of the half, the Tigers fumbled on their first play of their next possession.
WV took over on the Clemson 18 and scored in five plays converting on Shawne Alstons one-yard run.
The Mountaineers took a 49-20 halftime lead. It seemed that Clemson could not weather the storm created by the WV offense.
Half-Time Show by Train
Half-Time Show by Train.
Half-Time Show by Train
Half-Time Show by Train playing their popular hits.
Two More Touchdowns by WV in Third Quarter
In the second half, WV kept their pedal on full speed scoring touchdowns early in the third quarter on two more Geno Smith touchdown passes. The first was Stedman Bailey for six yards at 12:35. The second, his fourth of the night, to Tavon Austin.
Clemson managed a 28-yard touchdown pass from Tajh Boyd to DeAndre Hopkins.
At the end of the third it was West Virginia 63 Clemson 26.
West Virginia Wins 70-33
In the fourth quarter, with the crowd disappearing except for the Mountaineer fans gathering around their band, Geno Smith threw his sixth touchdown pass to Willie Milhouse for seven yards.
Clemson completed a 39-yard drive on a four-yard run by Roderick McDowell with 1:01 left.
West Virginia wins by a final score of 70-33. Charlie Wilmouth in his wrap up said, "WVU's 70 points set an all-time record for bowl scoring. By any team."
Wilmouth pointed out that WV quarterback Geno Smith, went 31 for 42 with 401 yards and six touchdowns. It must have been a thrill for Smith to have an Orange Bowl performance for the ages in his native Miami.
WV QB Geno Smith Has Spectacular Orange Bowl
On the game Geno Smith threw for 407 yards completing 32 of 43 and six touchdowns without an interception.
West Virginia ran for 188 yards to generate 595 yards of offense. Clemson was hurt by four turnovers.
WVU Receives Orange Bowl Trophy
WVU received the Orange Bowl Trophy filled with real oranges.
Orange Bowl: Favorite Tweet
@tsnmike Michael DeCourcy: OK. Remind me why I had to spend so many fall Saturdays on here defending Big East football.