The 2014 Orange Bowl features two of the nation's top college football programs, as the No. 12 Clemson Tigers (10-2) and No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1) will hit the gridiron on Friday, Jan. 3 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Fla.
The players and coaches from both teams come into the BCS bowl game with the foul taste of losing on their tongues.
Ohio State had a chance to go to the BCS National Championship Game heading into the Big Ten Championship Game, but the Michigan State Spartans buried that dream with a 34-24 win.
Clemson lost to South Carolina in the final game of the regular season, 34-17, as quarterback Tajh Boyd had one of his worst games of the season.
The Orange Bowl offers both teams a final chance at redemption, and Boyd expressed his excitement for the challenge, as noted by David Furones of the Miami Herald: "Big stage, big venue, beautiful city. We’re excited about a great team we’re going to play against. Both teams definitely have something to play for. I don’t think it’s one team that has more to play for than the other."
Judging by this picture of Ryan Shazier and C.J. Barnett, however, it appears Ohio State is equally motivated for the upcoming battle:
Here's what you need to know about the 2014 Orange Bowl, along with a final prediction:
When: Friday, Jan. 3, at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Fla.
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Betting Lines (via Covers)
- Over/Under: 69.5 points
- Spread: Ohio State (-2.5)
Team Injury Reports (via USA Today)
|C.J. Davidson||RB||Questionable (knee), Dec. 30|
|Travis Blanks||S||Questionable (knee), Dec. 30|
|Kevin Dodd||DE||Questionable (toe), Dec. 30|
|Carlos Watkins||T||Out (leg), Dec. 17|
|Kellen Jones||LB||Out (knee), Dec. 17|
|Tyshon Dye||RB||Out (back), Dec. 17|
|Scott Pagano||DT||Out (knee), Dec. 17|
|Patrick DeStefano||OL||Out (neck), Dec. 17|
|Charone Peake||WR||Out (knee), Sept. 12|
|Mackensie Alexander||DB||Out (groin), Oct. 3|
|Tyquan Lewis||DE||Questionable (undisclosed), Dec. 30|
|Michael Hill||DL||Out (undisclosed), Dec. 17|
|Devan Bogard||S||Out (knee), Dec. 17|
|Christian Bryant||S||Out (ankle), Sept. 30|
|James Clark||WR||Out (leg), Sept. 22|
|Blake Thomas||TE||Out (neck), Aug. 17|
|Adam Griffin||CB||Out (shoulder), Aug. 16|
|Jamie Wood||DB||Out (shoulder), Aug. 16|
Can Ohio State's Defense Slow Down Clemson's High-Powered Offense?
Braxton Miller did his part to help the Buckeyes beat Michigan State, scoring three touchdowns.
But Ohio State's defense failed to respond in kind, allowing sophomore quarterback Connor Cook to have the biggest game of his season and lead the Spartans to a 10-point win in the Big Ten Championship Game.
But it wasn't really a shock that the team's defense proved vulnerable—it's something fans groaned about all season long and a point of weakness that nearly cost the Buckeyes against Michigan just one week before the championship game at the Big House.
Team sack and tackles-for-loss leader Noah Spence didn't make the trip for the game, dealing with personal issues, as reported by Tim May and Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch. His absence will be challenging for Ohio State's front seven to overcome.
Bleacher Report's Michael Felder highlights the challenge:
With or without Noah Spence, the Ohio State defense is going to have its work cut out for it against the Clemson Tigers' attack. Spence is growing into a phenomenal pass-rusher, but the key to the Buckeyes stopping Clemson is the pass coverage, not just the pass rush.
Making matters worse, All-Big Ten cornerback Bradley Roby could potentially miss the game as he rehabs from a a knee injury, as noted by Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch.
On paper, it appears Braxton Miller must have a career game in order to give Ohio State the victory because Clemson's high-scoring offense (40.2 points per game) should have a field day.
Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins typically shred inferior secondaries, and the dynamic duo will put up huge totals against Ohio State's depleted and disjointed defense.
Clemson's defense will have its hands full keeping Ohio State's Carlos Hyde in check, and Miller is usually good for one or two game-changing plays per contest.
Nobody should expect a low-scoring offensive output by either team.
But Ohio State's defense is going to be overwhelmed by the time halftime rolls around.
This is Clemson's game to lose.
Which team will win?
All season long, there were Ohio State detractors in the national media.
Those who weren't sold on the Buckeyes pointed to the team's easy schedule. Wisconsin and Northwestern both gave this team a scare early, and lo and behold, once this team faced some stiff competition in the championship game, it failed to execute under pressure.
Clemson will pull out a big win, and Boyd will finish his career in style with a signature game.
Clemson wins, 38-31.
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