Of all the BCS bowl games, the Orange Bowl will likely be one of the most exciting matchups thanks, in large part, to both teams' offenses. While many old school football fans might crave the hard-nosed matchup of games like the Rose Bowl, this one is sure to offer two teams looking to finish with 40 or more points.
The Ohio State Buckeyes finished No. 3 in points scored and boast the third-best rushing offense this season. The Buckeyes not only posted 10 games with 40 or more points, but also held opponents to 20 or less in six contests.
As for the Clemson Tigers, spreading the ball around through the passing game is what got them to the Orange Bowl, and what will have to get going in order for them to pull out a win. Averaging 329.3 passing yards per game, the Tigers finished 11th in the country through the air and averaged the ninth-most points on the year.
With just one game remaining for both teams on the season, here is a look at the 2014 Orange Bowl and a prediction for what will be the penultimate BCS bowl game.
When: Friday, Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m. EST
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
Clemson is putting together a great season in Tajh Boyd's final college season and likely Sammy Watkins' final campaign as well. The two have connected 85 times for 1,237 yards and 10 touchdowns, which accounts for over one third of Boyd's passing yards this year.
With another weapon through the air in Martavis Bryant (39 receptions, 800 yards, five touchdowns) and on the ground with Roderick McDowell (956 rushing yards, 5.4 ypc, five touchdowns), the Tigers certainly have the weapons to compete with the Buckeyes.
But the Ohio State offense is one that not only dominates its opponents, but simply controls the game with its rushing offense. Both Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde have over 1,000 rushing yards and a combined 24 touchdowns this season.
Miller missed interviews with the media on Tuesday morning because of a flu bug, but he appears to be fine, according to Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch:
Braxton Miller might have been sick this morning but he showed up for work at noon. pic.twitter.com/NuVo74p2Qi— Tim May (@TIM_MAYsports) December 31, 2013
The difference in this game will be the defense of Ohio State. Led by linebacker Ryan Shazier, a potential first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Buckeyes have a good defense that has been shelled as of late.
The Buckeyes were crushed by Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook in the Big Ten Championship Game. Expect this game to be the Buckeyes' bounce back game with the unfortunate team on the other end being Clemson.
Coach Urban Meyer spoke about the defense needed to step up to Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com, saying that he believes defensive coordinator Luke Fickell will turn it around, "It's certainly not what we expect. I have a tremendous amount of confidence in Luke Fickell. He's a very unselfish coach, a very good coach and we're going to get this thing fixed."
The ACC as a whole is enjoying one of the best years in their history, but the success of teams in the regular season hasn't always boiled over to the bowl season. Thus far, the ACC is 3-6 in bowl games before BCS bowls officially begin. The ACC is also 3-13 all time in BCS bowls.
With two teams from the ACC earning BCS berths, there is reason to believe both teams could tip the scales and make this year even more memorable. Unfortunately, they will be 0-1 in BCS games before the national title game is played.
Prediction: Buckeyes 42, Tigers 35