Discover Orange Bowl: Predicted Finish – Clemson 45 vs. West Virginia 35
Clemson tried to do it. They tried to have another epic meltdown late in the season just like they do every year. In fact, if they would have lost to Wake Forest, like I think they should have (they got lucky with some typically shoddy ACC officiating), they would not have made it to the ACC title game, and thus would not be in a BCS bowl. In fact, we probably would have seen the end of Dabo Swinney. But somehow, after back-to-back losses to close out the regular season, the Tigers managed to come out swinging against Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game and cruised to an easy victory right on into the Orange Bowl.
The Mountaineers needed a ton of help to get into the Orange Bowl. At the end of the regular season, there was a three-way tie for first place in the Big East, which came down to the final rankings in the polls being the determining factor. There was a lot of strangeness leading up to the beginning of the season for West Virginia; Dana Holgerson was handed the team after a series of lies were spread by then HC Bill Stewart about Holgerson as an attempt to save his job from the newly-appointed head coach-in-waiting. There was a quick change in philosophies for the team and a few quick hires which really put the team behind the 8 ball. Either way, they managed to put together a decent package for the season and climb their way high enough in the rankings to play in a BCS bowl.
Tigers QB Tajh Boyd really flourished under new OC Chad Morris’ up-pace, pass-happy system. It didn’t hurt that he had a supreme WR tandem in freshman All-American Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins will most likely miss the game after suffering a concussion in a car accident this weekend. RB Andre Ellington eclipsed 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns this year and will look to use this game as a way to boost his draft stock as he will most likely jump for the NFL draft a year early.
West Virginia QB Geno Smith had a good year in Holgerson’s passing offense as well, throwing for almost 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns. Just like in any Holgerson offense, the ball gets spread around to all of the WR way too much to consider any one in particular to be a break-out candidate, but Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austinboth had over 1,000 yards receiving and should really give this poor Clemson secondary some fits.
This will be a high scoring game and should have a ton of yards. I would not be surprised to see nearly 1,000 combined yards in this one. It’ll come down to who has the better defense and to be honest, both are below average with the edge slightly going to the Clemson Tigers.