BCS Bowl Games: West Virginia vs. Clemson Will Exceed Tepid Expectations

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2011

When it was announced that the Big East Champion West Virginia Mountaineers would take on the ACC Champion Clemson Tigers in the Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 4, it is fair to say that most college football purists were less than thrilled.

After all, most believe that the Big East shouldn't even be an automatic-qualifying conference at this point, and there is a perception that Clemson backed into the game despite throttling Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game. As unappealing as the game may look on the surface, however, it has the potential to be a great one.

Perhaps it is true that neither team would have been chosen for a BCS bowl if not for their conference championships, but that doesn't mean that West Virginia and Clemson aren't entertaining. Sure, neither team has a particularly good defense, but we'll see plenty of defense out of LSU and Alabama in the National Championship Game.

What West Virginia and Clemson do bring to the table, though, is exciting offense. Both teams feature explosive spread offenses led by excellent quarterbacks in Geno Smith and Tajh Boyd respectively.

Smith had a huge year in throwing for just fewer than 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns as opposed to seven interceptions. Because the Mountaineers' defense was highly inconsistent, Smith usually had to put up big numbers just to keep West Virginia in the game. Without him, the Mountaineers wouldn't have been anywhere close to a Big East title.

The same can be said of Boyd and Clemson as well. Boyd was a dark-horse Heisman Trophy candidate early in the season as he helped Clemson ascend in the rankings. Boyd went through a bit of a rough patch as the Tigers lost three of four contests late in the season, but he came through in a big way against Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game by throwing for three touchdowns.

Simply for the fact that these two gifted quarterbacks will do battle against each other in the Orange Bowl is reason enough to watch. In all honesty, the non-BCS bowl slate appears to be very unappealing this season, so it isn't as if there were many better BCS options.

Both West Virginia and Clemson earned their berths into the Orange Bowl according to the BCS rules, so they shouldn't be downgraded for doing what they were supposed to. If you're looking for the true BCS laugher, then direct your attention to Michigan vs. Virginia Tech, because West Virginia vs. Clemson should be a good one.

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