No. 12 Clemson Tigers (10-2 SU, 6-5-1 ATS) vs. No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1 SU, 6-6-1 ATS)
Discover Orange Bowl Preview
Date and Time: Friday January 3rd, 2014. 8:30PM Eastern
Where: Sun Life Stadium Miami Gardens, F.L.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Clem +3/OSU -3
Over/Under Total: 68.5
Despite achieving two straight undefeated regular season campaigns, Urban
Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes fell just 1 game short
of playing for a National Championship when they suffered a 34-24 loss to
Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game. The loss rerouted the Buckeyes
postseason destiny from Pasadena to South Florida with a trip to the Discover
Orange Bowl. The 7th ranked Buckeyes will now meet the no. 12 Clemson
Tigers, for just the 2nd time in both school’s long history, when
both teams collide inside Sun Life Stadium on January 3rd.
The Clemson Tigers took advantage of a manageable schedule backed by a potent offense to finish the year at 10-2 SU. One of the biggest concerns under Coach Dabo Swinney, has been Clemson’s inability to win the big games. If you remember just two years ago, Clemson was throttled 70-33 by West Virginia in the Orange Bowl which became one of the program’s most embarrassing losses in school history. Coach Swinney also dropped his two biggest tests of 2013 with losses to Florida State and South Carolina. Therefore the Orange Bowl could be a sweet chance of redemption for the Clemson coaching staff. However if the Tigers fail to answer the bell yet again, Clemson fans are going to start becoming restless.
Luckily for Clemson, they have to tools to attack Ohio State’s biggest weakness which is the Buckeyes’ defensive secondary. The Buckeyes defense has been awful against the pass giving up 259 yards per game this season which ranks 103rd in the FBS. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris is among the best offensive minds in college football and his fast tempo spread offense should do very well against Ohio State. The entire Clemson offense has the playmakers to make it happen as well. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins could be the best receiver in the country and should go in the early first round of this year’s NFL Draft. Watkins has caught 85 passes this year for 1,237 yards and 10 touchdowns. Watkins has tremendous hands and breakaway speed that make him a homerun threat with each touch of the football.
Additionally, Clemson has the privilege of claiming senior Tahj Boyd as one of the greatest ACC quarterbacks in league history. Boyd’s senior season was highlighted with 3,473 yards, 29 touchdowns, and 9 picks on the season. As a result, Boyd became the ACC career leader in passing yards and touchdowns moving ahead of the likes of Philip Rivers and Charlie Whitehurst as the year progressed. Obviously Clemson’s wide open offense can attribute towards those accomplishments but Boyd has been consistently strong as well. The only knock on Boyd is that he can be rattled with pressure. In Clemson’s two losses this year when he was knocked around, Boyd threw just 1 touchdown pass compared to 4 picks. He had similar performances last year when under pressure. Therefore Ohio State’s defensive front has to keep Boyd under relentless pressure to force him out of his comfort zone. We already know the Ohio State defensive backs cannot get the job done so the play of the Ohio State defensive front will be critical to their success in slowing down a Clemson offense that ranks 10th in scoring averaging 40.2 points per game.
On the other side of the ball, Ohio State should also have opportunities to capitalize on mismatches. The Buckeyes are one of the best rushing teams in the country and have averaged 317 yards per game on the ground (3rd in the FBS). Most importantly, quarterback Braxton Miller presents a huge challenge to the Tigers defense. Clemson has struggled significantly against dual threat quarterbacks over the last few years and Miller will be the best they have seen. This season Miller and running back Carlos Hyde combined for 2,441 yards and 24 touchdowns on the ground. Miller was also fairly solid throwing the football with 22 touchdowns and 5 picks as well. I expect Ohio State’s rushing attack to prevent a lot of problems for Clemson’s defense which should keep things interesting especially if Clemson is able to answer when their offense takes the field. I am not quite sure which teams pulls out the win, but I definitely like the total in this game to soar.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Over 68.5!
Additional College Football Betting Previews