Offense, offense and more offense expected at the Orange Bowl
MIAMI - It's still fairly split on who wins the Orange Bowl, but it seems inevitable there will be another shootout along the lines of Clemson-Georgia or Ohio State-Michigan.
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Of the remaining bowl games to be played, Clemson and Ohio State has the fourth-highest over/under in Las Vegas sports books, which set the line at 69 combined points in the game.
Makes sense. Ohio State (46.3 points per game) and Clemson (40.2 points) are each among the only 12 teams in the country averaging at least 40 points; only the Orange Bowl and the BCS National Championship (Florida State-Auburn) pits two such teams against one another.
"Whatever it takes to win the game," Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd said Friday. "If it takes putting up 60, or we've got to score 21. You just have to lead your team in any sense.
"Maybe it will be a shootout; maybe it won't. Hopefully it won't because I think our defense is good enough to compete at that level. But I'm excited for the matchup."
It's not like the Tigers (No. 17) or Buckeyes (No. 21) can't stop opponents; both squads are tucked inside the top 25 in scoring defense.
However, the perception is both teams beefed up those defensive numbers against weaker opposing offenses, and neither unit has faced the type of challenge they will Friday in south Florida against one another.
"I feel confident. I feel like our defense, we're a pretty hard bunch," Tigers defensive end Corey Crawford said. "We play for each other, so I feel like we're all going to get on the same page, and going to see how bad we need this win to prove to a lot of people we are a good defense.
"This is the best challenge we've had all year."
Only twice has Clemson ended up in a game featuring at least 70 points, and they were both wins at Death Valley: 38-35 over Georgia Aug. 31, and 55-31 over Georgia Tech Nov. 14.
But six other games eclipsed the 60-point mark combining both squads' efforts.
Ohio State's more the culprit for the expected offensive fireworks; six of the Buckeyes' 13 games have eclipsed 70 points (though that includes a 76-0 whitewash of Florida A&M.) Only one game failed to reach 50: a 42-7 beating of San Diego State, when quarterback Braxton Miller departed early due to injury.
Specifically for Clemson's defense, giving up 82 points in losses to Florida State and South Carolina are a black mark, though perhaps unfair since 45 of those points were directly off Clemson turnovers.
"We take every game seriously," Clemson safety Robert Smith said. "We don't pay attention to what people say; we just go out and play our game."
As Boyd said, the belief around the Tigers' football players is their much-improved defense, even if it's a bit inconsistent, has come a long way since getting scorched for 70 points two Orange Bowls ago and will get enough stops to give Clemson a chance.
"They're a really prideful group. All those guys are hard workers. They're passionate about what they do," Boyd said. "It hasn't been easy for them; they've been ridiculed over the past few years, they've been pushed to the side, but they've come through and executed and performed. That's all you can ask for out of your teammates."