The Orange Bowl takes place in Miami and features the champions of the Big East Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference. Though the conference are geographically close to each other, the two league champs this year will be meeting for the first time in more than two decades as West Virginia takes on Clemson.
These two haven’t met since the Gator Bowl back in 1989, with Clemson earning a 27-7 victory.
The latest Orange Bowl odds have Clemson listed as 3-point favorites, while the over/under is set for 62.5 points.
The Mountaineers won their final three games to earn a three-way share of the Big East title (5-2), earning the league’s automatic BCS bid into this game thanks to having the highest ranking in the BCS standings (No. 23). Their last three wins have come by a total of seven points. WVU was 4-1 as the visiting team this season, including winning their final three road games in a row.
The Mountaineers are ranked 19th in the nation in points scored (35 points per game) while recording 460 yards per game (342 passing, 118 rushing).
Geno Smith enters the game having completed 65 percent of his tosses for 3,978 yards and 25 touchdowns with seven interceptions, with the offensive line allowing 26 sacks. Tavon Austin is the top receiving threat with 89 catches for 1,063 yards and four TDs, with Stedman Bailey recording 67 grabs for 1,197 yards and 11 scores. Dustin Garrison heads up the running game with 742 yards and six touchdowns on 5.5 yards per carry.
Defensively, the Mountaineers rank 63rd in points allowed (26 ppg) and give up 341 yards per game (200 passing, 141 rushing) while recording 28 sacks and forcing 19 turnovers with three returned for TDs (Terence Garvin and Pat Miller, interceptions; Julian Miller, fumble).
Najee Goode leads this unit with 84 total tackles with Darwin Cook adding 81 stops. Bruce Irvin has 7.5 sacks and two forced fumbles, Keith Tandy has three interceptions and Julian Miller has three fumble recoveries.
Clemson started off hot, winning their first eight games of the season. They then lost three of the next four, but rebounded by scoring a dominating win in the conference championship over Virginia Tech (38-10). All three of the Tigers’ losses came on the road this year.
Clemson enters the game ranked 27th in the nation in scoring offense (34 ppg) while recording 441 yards per game (285 passing, 156 rushing).
Tiger quarterback Tajh Boyd has connected on 60 percent of his passes for 3,578 yards and 35 TDs with 10 interceptions, while the offensive line has allowed 30 sacks. Sammy Watkins leads the receiving corps with 77 receptions for 1,153 yards and 11 TDs, while DeAndre Hopkins adds 62 grabs for 871 yards and four scores. Andre Ellington anchors the running game with 1,062 yards and 10 TDs on 5.0 yards per carry.
The Clemson defense ranks 62nd nationally in points allowed (26 ppg) and gives up 379 yards per game (203 passing, 176 rushing) while compiling 24 sacks and forcing 22 turnovers two of which became scores (Kourtnei Brown, interception and fumble).
Rashard Hall leads the unit with 81 total tackles and two fumble recoveries, while Andre Branch has 78 to go with 10.5 sacks. Jonathan Meeks has three interceptions and two recoveries and Stephone Anthony has two forced fumbles.
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Orange Bowl Free Pick: Clemson -3
West Virginia played in a weaker conference, and the Mountaineers struggled with consistency this year. Clemson is pretty healthy for this time of the year. I think Tajh Boyd and the Clemson offense will put on a show in this one.
I have a big premium play on the total in this one. The Sugar Bowl was a winner last night and so was the Rose Bowl play from two days ago. Join in the winning! Let’s finish the season strong!