ORANGE You Glad We’re Not Playing Alabama

As this college football season comes to a close, so does the Bowl Championship Series (thank goodness, bring on the playoffs). In the final season of BCS bowl games, the Clemson Tigers will make the trek down to Miami to play in the Discover Orange Bowl, their second trip in three years.  The Tigers are looking to prove the naysayer’s wrong with a win against the Ohio State Buckeyes on January 3, 2014. The theme of this year’s Orange Bowl is one of redemption.

Flashback: Two years ago Clemson lost to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl, 70-33. It was the most points scored by a team in a bowl game. Geno Smith might be tied for first in interceptions in the NFL this season, but in Miami two years ago, that was not the case. Writing about it gives me a pit in my stomach, one that will never go away because it is forever seared into my memory– and because Wikipedia exists.

Flash-forward: Clemson enters the 2014 Orange Bowl 10-2, losing horribly to FSU and in-state rival, South Carolina. If you have read any articles on the upcoming game, you already know that pretty much no one in the milky-way thinks Clemson will win this game. Call me a nonconformist or just a die-hard Clemson fan, but I’m pretty sick of the negativity so I’m going to spin this one in a different direction.

Ohio State is a great football team, they almost made it to the BCS National Championship. Keyword: Almost. Their ego’s are a bit inflated considering their strength of schedule the last two seasons, if you ask me. Buckeyes quarterback, Braxton Miller, likes to run. Miller has rushed over 1,000 yards this season, with 10 rushing touchdowns. Compare that to Tajh Boyd’s 273 rushing yards and you see what I mean about liking to run. The key to the Ohio State offense is their run game, they’re 4th in the nation in rushing yards and their top two rushers, Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller, have rushed for a combined 2,441 yards this season.

Stopping Carlos Hyde is something the Clemson defense can manage. The Tigers held Boston College running back and Heisman finalist, Andre Williams, to 70 yards and zero touchdowns. They held South Carolina star running back, Mike Davis to his season low of a measly 22 yards. There’s proof in the pudding, they CAN stop the run game. Issues arise when you bring a running quarterback into the mix. While the Tigers shut down Mike Davis, they let South Carolina quarterback, Connor Shaw, run to and fro while he picked up 94 rushing yards. With Tajh Boyd being a dual threat quarterback, I’m not really sure why running QB’s are an issue for this defense, but they have to force Miller to pass the ball. That task is easier said than done, but I have faith in Brent Venables’ system and am anxious to see what he can come up with between now and January 3rd.

As for the Clemson offense, keep it simple, keep it fast. Chad Morris, PLEASE I BEG YOU, no more trick plays early in the game. No more Sammy throwing it deep, please. While that’s all great and fun, let’s save it until we’re up by a couple of touchdowns. Thank you. Tajh has to keep his nerves under control and play like he is  one of the best quarterback’s in the nation. Because he is one of the best in the nation, and he currently holds the ACC record for most passing TD’s with 102. Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant, Adam Humphries, Mike Williams, are all viable options in the Clemson passing game, so let’s see to it that they catch the ball and hold on to it.

This Orange Bowl is about redemption. It’s about showing the analysts, experts, beat writers, and whoever else doesn’t think Clemson has a shot in the dark that just when you start to underestimate Dabo Swinney, he pulls a fast one on you. He’s done it before and he’ll do it again, go Tigers!

Don’t miss the Discover Orange Bowl on ESPN, January 3, 2014 at 8:30pm EST.

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