Clemson plays West Virginia in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 4 in Miami. The teams have met only once before, a 27-7 Clemson victory in the 1989 Gator Bowl. Here's a closer look at the West Virginia football team.
Stats and Stars
The West Virginia passing game is particularly effective. West Virginia is seventh in the nation with 342 passing yards per game and overall the Mountaineers are 17th in total offense (459 yards per game). West Virginia produced more than 500 yards of total offense against No. 1 LSU earlier this season. The Mountaineers are also a resilient team having come from behind in eight of its nine wins this year.
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith is ninth in the country in total offense and knows Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, who originally committed to West Virginia. Smith and receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin shattered school passing records. Defensively, West Virginia is 27th in total defense (340 yards per game), though the team has struggled stopping the run, ranking 51st.
The Current Trend
West Virginia has been on the cutting edge of offensive football the last decade. Former Clemson offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez turned the Mountaineers into one of the top-rated offensive teams from 2001-07 with his inventive spread-option attack. First-year coach Dana Holgorsen is a disciple of passing-game innovator Mike Leach and has led the Moutaineers to the nation's No. 17 offense in his first year after being the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State under Mike Gundy.
Before Bobby Bowden led Florida State to national prominence and into to the ACC, where his Florida State Seminoles became the conference's flagship program in the 1990s, Bowden was the head coach at West Virginia. Bowden spent 10 years in Morgantown as the program's offensive coordinator and then head coach. He guided the Mountaineers to a 9-3 record and No. 20 ranking in the AP poll in 1975. In 1976, he took over at Florida State and presided over the program until 2009. Bowden's son, Tommy, played under his father at West Virginia from 1973-76. He began his coaching career with the Mountaineers as a graduate assistant in 1977. Bowden was Clemson's head coach from 1999-2008.