- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- We know how much you guys love stats. So how about a few more super awesome ones just a few hours before West Virginia and Clemson kick off in the Discover Orange Bowl. Give all your thanks to ESPN Stats & Information, the gurus behind all these fabulous numbers.
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd struggled in the red zone during Clemson’s three losses this season, completing just 1-of-12 passes, including two interceptions. In his 39 red-zone attempts during the Tigers’ 10 wins, Boyd had 15 touchdown passes to one interception. Meanwhile, West Virginia’s opponents completed 31 percent of their passes in the red zone this season during conference play, lowest percentage in the Big East.
Boyd went 6-of-9 on throws of 10 yards or longer against Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game, including two touchdowns. It was Boyd’s first multi-touchdown game on throws of that distance since Oct. 22 against North Carolina. The Tigers are 5-0 this season when Boyd has two or more touchdown passes of 10 yards or longer.
Sammy Watkins became just the second Clemson wide receiver in the last eight seasons to gain over 1,000 yards (Aaron Kelly, 2007). Watkins gained 60.5 percent of his yards after the catch, including two games in which he gained over 100 yards. As good as Watkins has been after the catch, he is not the best in the Orange Bowl. West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin has gained 807 yards after the catch this season, most of any player ranked in the BCS Top 25. That means Austin has gained 75.9 yards after the catch this season.
West Virginia is 13-0 since the start of last season when Geno Smith completes at least 50 percent of his passes of 15 yards or longer. In 18 wins during that time period, Smith has only thrown one interception on a throw of 15 yards or longer. That pick was against Cincinnati in 2010. That is the only game the Mountaineers have won when Smith completes less than 40 percent of his throws of 15-plus yards (17-1).
Smith has 54 completions of 20 yards or longer this season, most of any player in the Big East and tied for fifth most in FBS. Last season, Smith had just 38 such completions. Smith has seven career games with five or more completions that gained at least 20 yards -- with five coming this season.
West Virginia has allowed 261 plays that have gained 10 yards or more since the start of last season, fourth fewest in FBS. The Mountaineers have allowed fewer than 10 such plays in 12 games during that time period, which is tied for the third fewest in FBS.
And one more for all you ACC vs. Big East lovers: West Virginia is 3-11 in bowl games against the ACC. This is the fourth straight year the Mountaineers will be facing an ACC team in a bowl game, having dropped two straight to NC State and Florida State. Overall, West Virginia is 97-97-5 against current members of the ACC. For the other side: Clemson is 1-3 against teams currently in the Big East, all in bowl games. Its lone win -- against West Virginia in the 1989 Gator Bowl.
1dMatt Fortuna and Andrea Adelson