Welcome to the Orange Bowl, where Punting is Optional and Defense Won't Matter

By Kyle Rowland on December 10, 2013 at 9:15a
Tajh Boyd can sling the ball.

The last time Clemson played in the Orange Bowl it surrendered 70 points to West Virginia. It marked the most points in a Bowl Championship Series game and the Mountaineers’ 37-point margin of victory remains the largest in BCS history. In the Tigers’ return trip to Miami, they could give up 70 again – and win.

That could be considered hyperbole, but even Orange Bowl CEO Eric Poms admitted the high-powered offenses factored into the decision-making process when selecting teams. Ohio State ranks fourth nationally in scoring offense and seventh in total offense, while Clemson is 11th and 12th, respectively, in both categories.

“We expect a game featuring offensive fireworks, since both teams average more than 40 points a game,” Poms said.

The two teams might have similar results on the scoreboard, but they go about their business differently. The Buckeyes use dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller and prolific running back Carlos Hyde to engineer a bulk of the offensive production. Behind one of the top offensive lines in the country, Ohio State averaged 46 points per game and 317.5 yards rushing.

For the Tigers, most of the work has been done through the air. Quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins form one of the top passing connections in the country. Watkins has 85 receptions for 1,237 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season.

“There’s certainly things we’ve got to get fixed, and get fixed in a hurry. Look what’s coming down the road here,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said. “Their athleticism at receiver is ridiculous, and their quarterback. The element of the quarterback run and the throw is something we’ve lived on for years. Their scheme is terrific.”

The similarities don’t stop on offense. If you move to the other side of the ball, inconsistent defenses appear. Plagued by poor play in the secondary, among other issues, Ohio State’s school-record 24-game winning streak came tumbling down last Saturday. Initial opinions on the Orange Bowl seemed to point to another long day for the defensive backs and safeties wearing scarlet and gray. Then the image of Clemson allowing 51 points to Florida State reappeared.

“We expect a game featuring offensive fireworks, since both teams average more than 40 points a game,” – Orange Bowl CEO Eric Poms.

But how will the Buckeyes respond to their first loss in 705 days? According to Meyer, it won’t be a problem. National title or not, they know finishing the season off in the right direction means winning the Orange Bowl. The senior class has been through more than any others that came before them. To completely wilt in the face of adversity, something Ohio State did not do even as the program swallowed itself in 2011, isn’t in their DNA.

“They’re heartbroken, but they are also competitors,” Meyer said. “And I think the fact we are playing in a BCS bowl game against Clemson, that’s going to wake you up real fast. There’s no doubt in my mind we’ll be excited to go play in this bowl game.

“Momentum is an extremely valuable thing, and when you lose a game, it’s difficult. I have great confidence. A lot of these players have been through a lot of stuff. Last year they went 12-0 and were unable to got play in a bowl game. Now their first chance to play in a bowl game, they’re in a BCS game against a great team.”

Why some would ponder a letdown is certainly founded in facts. Teams often experience uneven bowl performances when it was national title or bust. The Chase started nearly a year ago with the end goal of winning the championship in Pasadena, not lifting a trophy filled with oranges on the other side of the country. 

Meyer’s been here before, though. Expectations at Florida didn’t differ from the set of circumstances he finds in Columbus. Meyer won all but one bowl game during his six seasons with the Gators.

Count Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney among the contingent that sees a completely different Ohio State team.

“You’re playing very possibly the best team in the country,” he said. “We look forward to a great game against Ohio State. There are a lot of great players heading down to South Beach to compete in a good one, I’m sure.”

Boyd to Watkins can strike in a hurry.

In the only previous meeting between the schools, Woody Hayes’ infamous punch to Charlie Bauman ended his coaching career. It’s an act that will be replayed on TVs for the next month.

Sure to receive far less attention is the last – and only – time the Buckeyes played in the Orange Bowl, New Year’s Day 1977, when they defeated Colorado 27-10. Thirty-seven years later, Ohio State hopes it can mirror that result to put a period on a proud season and jumpstart another chase in for 2014.

“Not many teams get a chance to win 13 games in a season and obviously finish ranked very highly,” Meyer said. “With a lot of these players and what they’ve gone through the last two years, they’re very disappointed, but they understand the opportunity that’s been given to them.”


Comments Show All Comments

jccavanaugh's picture

I've got a bottle of Blanton's on the line with my Clemson-alum brother-in-law. Come on, Buckeyes! Don't let me down!

Chief B1G Dump's picture

Perfect. Nice bet with the bro in law.
Miami will not have seen a shoot out like this since they tried to storm Tony Montoya's house!
Fist stop wins it...

stittracer99's picture

One way or another, Roby is going to know exactly how he will measure up in the NFL. No doubt he will be assigned to Watkins all game, and he is definitely an NFL-caliber receiver. It will be interesting to see how the secondary performs with a month of rest, scouting, practice, and planning. Pitt Brown, Barnett, and Roby are gone after this game so I hope they come out and play like this is their last game in the uniform.

AJW_16's picture

The offensive firepower will make this must-see TV.
I get excited for any big bowl game like this. Wanted the shot at FSU, but I'm starting to look forward to this game. I'm hoping the coaching staff uses the extra practice time to work with the back 7 on defense, specifically working with the young guys. I could see this time being critical for their development. This could be the golden opportunity to prepare the Vonn Bells and Eli Apples of this team to get ready for next year.
All that being said, this is a tough matchup for the OSU D. I'm not sure I see more than 2 or 3 stops for the defense against this offense. My initial guess is that we'll need north of 45 to win.

"Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you." 

BuckeyeSki's picture

Pitt Brown starting at safety this game?
Anyone know what Russell Anderson is up to?

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

Hovenaut's picture

Changing how he prefers his name....?
(I kid...know what you're saying 'ski)

CowCat's picture

We can always put in Zach Boren!
Oh, wait ...

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

causeicouldntgo43's picture

Is Pauly Shore available? He can do the "safety" dance....

Hovenaut's picture

Bio-Dome.....haven't seen that masterpiece in sometime now.
Kylie Minogue....oh yeah.

DefendYoungstown's picture

Welcome to the Orange Bowl, where Punting is Optional and Defense Won't Matter

If that is true, we're ready made for this bowl!!!

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

Turban Meyer's picture

where Punting is Optional
Jim Tressel just died a little inside. 

HSBDAWG's picture

Hopefully Bryant will be back and the reason that Barnett was getting toasted was he was tring to cover for Brown. Otherwise get them young freshman a lot of work. tired of watching stuff that you tell kids not to do in high school work up there because they are not playing where they should be. (run one way and throw back across the field and no one there to stop it then look stupid standing there watching it.

BoFuquel's picture

Just score more than Son Of Clem. That's all it takes. Work on that offense. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

Clinger76's picture

Heres hoping Bryant redshirts (medical) and returns next year!

"If you take no risks, you will suffer no defeats, But if you take no risks, you will earn no victories."

Zaphod Beeblebrox's picture

New account here, just seeing if I can post a comment.

2morrow's picture

Does anyone know what Bryant's status is? Could he be back in time for the bow game? The injury happened later in the schedule - is a red shirt even possible?

d5k's picture

From what I've read it would have to be an exception made on appeal for him to be allowed a hardship waiver.  He played 5 out of 13 eligible games in the calculation which is more than the 30% cutoff.
That said, I would love if he can be back for the Orange Bowl but I'm ready for new blood at the safety position to get a chance to get all the reps and early season playing time next year.

alust2013's picture

Yep, I'm smelling a shootout.

...and Michigan still sucks.

Seattle Linga's picture

High Octane - All the time

superbuck's picture

Please URBAN read and think .


Oyster's picture

He is 65.  That would be a shortsighted move.

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

NitroBuck's picture

Isn't Jim Heacock already on the staff?  All that is needed is to reassign him.

Ferio.  Tego.

hodge's picture

Yeah.  And he doesn't want to be a full-time coach; from what I heard, he doesn't want to commit to the grind of recruiting.

ejoceans's picture

do you ppl really think the bucks will give up 70? If so, that is pathetic in so many ways!! The day I see 70 put on the buckeyes is the day I stop watching them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Get some D guys!

Lets do this Brutus

BuckeyeStrong1993's picture

Man i wish we had that type of speed with our WR. Dontre is up there with speed but for some reason we tried that same play with Devin Smith and Philly Brown all year and it never really works.


ChazBuckeye's picture

I've got no bet made with a bottle but the alcohol will be running freely Friday night of January 3rd.  I'm making 12 2000mls (equal to almost 6 gallons or more) Mason Jars of Apple Pie Shine (enough for Xmas, New Years and for that game).  Trust me, it worked like a CHARM after that lose to MSU.  And I look at it like this, if we win, I've got some to celebrate with.  Or...well, you know.  I can narrow Jeff's five stages of grief article into one grand grief...over-the-top drunkenness;-)  You can't beat 195 proof or in other words, 95% alcohol:-) And this is the last thing I remember saying after the last 2 minutes of the MSU game, "My gosh, this doesn't even taste like alcohol."  I'm not kidding either, that's the last thing I remember saying to my wife that night:-)

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.