Bring On The Buckeyes
Head coach Urban Meyer’s Ohio State football team thought it would be playing for the national championship. Instead they’ll get Clemson in a battle of conference runner-ups.
The seventh-ranked Buckeyes (12-1) will take on the No. 12 Tigers (10-2) in the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida – a rematch of the 1978 Gator Bowl that marked a turning point in the history of both programs.
In that game – the debut of legendary former Clemson head coach Danny Ford – the Tigers defeated Ohio State 17-15 to finish the season 11-1 and tied for No. 6 in the nation. Three years later Clemson won its first national championship with an Orange Bowl victory over Nebraska, although the following year the program was placed on probation for numerous recruiting violations.
The defining moment of the 1978 game? Ohio State head coach Woody Hayes punching Clemson defensive lineman Charlie Bauman on the sidelines after a fourth quarter interception clinched the Tigers’ victory. Hayes was fired after the game, bringing to an end his thirty-three year coaching career.
Clemson hasn’t played a Big Ten school since defeating Illinois 30-0 in 1990.
The big story line in this game? Tigers’ quarterback Tajh Boyd – who was heavily recruited by Ohio State but wound up attending Clemson (rewriting the school’s record book in three seasons as a starter).
Boyd will go up against Braxton Miller – another preseason Heisman favorite who is among the nation’s top dual-threat signalcallers.
Kickoff from Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida is set for 8:30 p.m. on Friday, January 3 with ESPN televising the game nationally. Clemson appeared in the Orange Bowl two years ago as the ACC Champion – losing 70-33 to West Virginia. This year the Tigers are an at-large selection to the BCS.
“We are very excited to go to the Discover Orange Bowl for the second time in the last three years,” Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney said. “Getting to another BCS Bowl game is very important for our program. We have developed some consistency the last three years. We have been ranked in the top 15 the last 27 polls, the longest streak in Clemson history, and have won at least 10 games three years in a row, something only six other FBS schools have done.”
Last year Clemson defeated Southeastern Conference powerhouse LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. All-time, the Tigers are 17-19 in 36 bowl appearances (including a 2-3 mark under Swinney). Ohio State is 20-23 in 43 bowl games – including losses to South Carolina in the 2001 and 2002 Outback Bowls. This is their first postseason appearance under second-year head coach Urban Meyer.