2014 Discover Orange Bowl
Who: No. 12 Clemson vs. No. 7 Ohio State
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
When: Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m.
Records: Clemson (10-2, 7-1 ACC); Ohio State (12-1, 8-0 Big Ten)
Last year's result: Florida State 31, Northern Illinois 10
CLEMSON - For a couple of Clemson's 2011 home games at Memorial Stadium - against defending national champion Auburn and ACC foe North Carolina - there were three commentators in the ESPN booth.
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Dave Pasch, Chris Spielman, and a guy by the name of Urban Meyer.
It was a one-year deal, bridging the gap between Meyer's abrupt resignation from Florida and his current post as Ohio State's head football coach.
So even though Meyer has never coached against Clemson, he's got a little familiarity with the program. By the way, the Tigers won both of those games, sparking an ACC championship and earning their first Orange Bowl berth since beating Nebraska in the 1981 national championship.
"I said right on air, that was the first time I really ever got to witness a game at Death Valley," Meyer said on Sunday's teleconference. "I didn't really know (Clemson head coach) Dabo (Swinney) that well before then. I was really impressed the first time I got to see that offense. Very impressive atmosphere, and the crowd support, and a lot of great talent I got to see there. Lot of respect for Clemson."
Meyer called Swinney "a friend" on the conference call of both Orange Bowl head coaches, and Swinney shared his admiration for Meyer as well.
"Definitely want to congratulate Ohio State. I've got all the respect in the world for Coach Meyer," Swinney said. "Looking forward to spending some time with him in Miami. The BCS represents the best of the best, and I really believe both of these teams deserve to be there."
Both Meyer and Swinney are in Florida on recruiting trips before bowl practices begin; at the conclusion of the call, before hanging up, the coaches exchanged pleasantries, including Swinney adding "see you Wednesday."
Swinney is 9-13 in his head coaching career against ranked opponents; Meyer is 21-8. The Tigers are 5-3 against top-10 opponents under Swinney since 2008.
Why the Tigers?
It ended up being a fairly easy decision for the BCS bowls attending to their at-large decisions, though as usual, not every team went home happy.
After No. 10 Oregon was the highest team in the final BCS Standings snubbed by the Orange and Sugar Bowls.
Those bowls replaced BCS title contenders Florida State with Ohio State and Auburn with Alabama, and then went with at-large candidates No. 12 Clemson and No. 11 Oklahoma, respectively, to fill out their matchups. (A maximum two SEC teams could participate, thus denying No. 8 Missouri and No. 9 South Carolina.)
Oregon was relegated to the Alamo Bowl against Texas. It appears the Orange Bowl's upcoming partnership with the ACC and Big Ten, and the Sugar Bowl's upcoming partnership with the Big XII, did in the Ducks.
"The last eight years have been exclusive with the ACC; and looking at the future, we have a 12-year arrangement that involves the ACC versus an SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame opponent," Orange Bowl CEO Eric Poms said. "With that being said, we looked at every aspect that was involved. Obviously, with the upsets over the last couple of weeks, the variables kept changing.
"But in the end, the best interests of the Orange Bowl moving forward was to have the best possible game for today and set up our course for the future."
As the higher-ranked team, Ohio State elected to be considered the home team, which will put Clemson in the all-white uniforms.
This marks Clemson's first BCS at-large berth, in the final year of the 16-year BCS era.
Shootout in South Beach
Poms laid out his gameday expectations pretty succinctly.
"We anticipate a game featuring offensive fireworks," he said.
The Buckeyes average 46.3 points per game and the Tigers are at 40.2, each in the top 12 nationally. Both squads average more than 500 yards each game.
"I've seen it up close and personal. I've recruited some of those guys. Their athleticism is ridiculous," Meyer said of Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, wide receiver Sammy Watkins and offensive coordinator Chad Morris.
"The element of their quarterback who can run and throw, that's something we've lived in for years and it's difficult to defend. But there's no question, this team's terrific, and what their offensive coordinator does, what really makes everything go is the athleticism."
The Tigers' defense will have to deal with dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller - who's 26-7 as a starter - and 6-foot, 235-pound tailback Carlos Hyde, sixth in the country in rushing.
"(Miller's) a very capable thrower, but he's like having a running back who can throw the football. He's fast, he's powerful, we've had opportunities to see this guy play on several occasions. Just an outstanding football player that can beat you a lot of different ways," Swinney said "That's why they rushed the football so well this year; that quarterback going along with that big back they got, it's been a very perfect combination."
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