Friday, January 3, 2014
Ten reasons Clemson will win Orange
By Andrea Adelson
No. 12 Clemson takes on No. 7 Ohio State in the Discover Orange Bowl on Friday. Here is a look at 10 reasons the Tigers could beat the Buckeyes.
1. Receiver advantage. Clemson seems to have a clear matchup edge with its receivers, and that could translate into big plays in the pass game. Sammy Watkins has had a terrific season, and he needs nine receptions to break the school career record and two receiving touchdowns to tie the school career record. He has reached 100 yards receiving in seven of 12 games this season and is going to be difficult to stop. Martavis Bryant, at 6-foot-5, gives the Tigers another big-play target. Ohio State has allowed 755 yards passing in its past two games.
2. Ohio State D in flux. Given all the issues the Ohio State defense has had, it is easy to believe the Tigers are in line to take advantage. Defensive end Noah Spence has been suspended for the game, leaving the Buckeyes without their best pass-rusher. Cornerback Bradley Roby is unlikely to play, and there is the possibility three new starters could be in the secondary against the high-powered Tigers.
Clemson will need QB Tajh Boyd to be at his best against Ohio State.
3. Tajh's time.Tajh Boyd has had one of the best careers in Clemson history, but he did not play his best in losses to Florida State or South Carolina this season, so you have to think he will be extra motivated to finish his career with a win in the Orange Bowl. Boyd is fully capable of winning big games, as he showed against Georgia and LSU. Big-play Boyd needs to show up.
4. Vic Beasley. One of the more intriguing matchups in the game pits Clemson pass-rusher Beasley against All-Big Ten tackle Jake Mewhort. Beasley is tied for third in the nation with 12 sacks, and Mewhort said this week that Beasley presents a "unique challenge." Beasley is built differently from the pass-rushers Mewhort has faced in the Big Ten, using a blend of speed and athleticism to get after the quarterback. If he can disrupt Braxton Miller, Clemson will improve its chances of winning.
5. TFLs. One area where the Tigers have succeeded this season is in tackles for loss. Clemson has 112, which leads the nation, and needs seven more to tie the school record. Clemson must get into the backfield to try to limit the big plays Miller and running back Carlos Hyde can make.
6. Limited Ohio State pass rush? We have seen Boyd get flustered into making mistakes when he is under heavy pressure. But the Buckeyes' pass rush could be severely limited without Spence, who leads the team with eight sacks. Without Spence, more will be placed on the shoulders of freshman Joey Bosa, who has 6.5 sacks on the season.
7. Big plays. Tag this to go along with reasons 1-3. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Boyd leads all AQ quarterbacks in completion percentage on throws of 20 yards or longer (55.9 percent) and has 14 touchdowns and two interceptions on such throws. Since 2011, Watkins has scored 17 touchdowns of 30 yards or more, tied for second most in FBS in that span.
8. Andre Williams effect. Clemson players said Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde reminds them of Boston College back Andre Williams, who won the Doak Walker Award and rushed for 2,000 yards. But the Tigers held Williams to 70 yards rushing -- one of his lowest outputs of the season -- giving them a boost of confidence going into the game.
9. No turnovers. Coach Dabo Swinney has been preaching for a month now -- no more turnovers. In losses to Florida State and South Carolina, Clemson turned the ball over a total of 10 times. Surely the message has sunk in by now.
10. Chick-fil-A Bowl. The 2012 Orange Bowl performance against West Virginia has been brought up every single day in South Florida, but Clemson believes its win over LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl last season is more indicative of what it can do on a big stage in the bowl game. Being able to win a game like that, against a top school from the SEC, has given this team the confidence to know it can do it again Friday against Ohio State.