Clemson vs Ohio State: Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes had legitimate national championship hopes

Posted on Jan 3 2014 - 6:08pm by Ryan Conroy

The No. 12 Clemson Tigers take on the No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes in the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Fla.

Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes had legitimate national championship hopes after finally reaching No. 2 in the BCS standings going into the Big Ten championship game, but the Michigan State Spartans pulled off the upset for the conference title and knocked Ohio State out of the BCS national championship game.

DaboSwinney and the Tigers also had early championship hopes, but a huge loss to current No. 1 Florida State midway through the season put a damper on their chances. Clemson also lost its season finale against their instate rivals, the South Carolina Gamecocks. This is their fifth Orange Bowl appearance in school history, with their last appearance coming two years ago in a 70-33 drubbing by Geno Smith and the West Virginia Mountaineers.

This year’s Orange Bowl also has the makings of an offensive showdown, with Clemson averaging 40.2 points per game this season and Ohio State putting up 46.3 points per game. And while both defenses have allowed opponents only an average of 21 points per game, expect the offenses to take over in a high-scoring affair.

Senior quarterback Tajh Boyd, who has thrown for 3,473 yards and 29 touchdowns and nine interceptions this season, leads Clemson’s high-scoring offense. Boyd is also a threat on the ground, rushing for nine touchdowns. Senior receiver Sammy Watkins, projected to be a high first round pick in this spring’s NFL Draft, leads the Tigers with 1,237 yards and 10 touchdowns, and he is also a threat as a return specialist with his speed. Roderick McDowell has provided a run game to complete Boyd’s passing, rushing for 956 yards and five touchdowns.

While Clemson’s offense mostly comes from the air, Ohio State has relied on a strong ground game that ranks third in the nation, averaging 317.5 rushing yards per game. Running back Carlos Hyde for 1,408 yards and 14 touchdowns and dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller added 1,033 yards on the ground and 10 rushing scores. Miller is also a threat in the air, passing for 1,860 yards and 22 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Devin Smith and Philly Brown each have 655 receiving yards this season and have combined for 18 touchdowns.

Prediction: Ohio State 48, Clemson 42