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2012 Orange Bowl Preview

Posted by Johnny Banks

West Virginia and Clemson face off for this year’s version of the Orange Bowl in Miami, FL. Geographically, these two conferences aren’t that far apart, however, these two teams have not faced in over two decades.

The last time these two teams met was in the Gator Bowl following the 1989 season, with Clemson pulling off a 27-7 victory in Jacksonville.

The latest Orange Bowl odds show Clemson -3.5 and a total of 60 points.

West Virginia

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. West Virginia was a solid 4-1 away from home, winning the last three such games.

West Virginia ranks 19th nationally 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 TDs 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 touchdowns, 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 TDs 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

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.

Offensively, Clemson ranks 27th in the country in scoring (34 ppg) while recording 441 yards per game (285 passing, 156 rushing).

Tajh Boyd completes 60 percent of his passes for 3,578 yards and 35 TDs with 10 INTs, while the offensive line has given up 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 TDs (Kourtnei Brown, interception and fumble).

The defense is lead by Rashard Hall, 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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