By Will Vandervort
Following an embarrassing loss to West Virginia in the 78th Orange Bowl Classic two years ago, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney made a promise in the locker room that it will not take Clemson 31 years to get back to the Orange Bowl.
Before the 2012 game, the Tigers had not played in the annual bowl game since 1982, when Danny Ford’s Clemson team claimed the 1981 National Championship with a 22-15 victory over Nebraska.
Swinney kept his word when the Tigers were extended an invitation by the Discover Orange Bowl Committee last week to play in the 80th Orange Bowl Classic against No. 7 Ohio State. It marks Clemson’s second appearance in the BCS Bowl and its fifth in the Orange Bowl overall.
The 12th-ranked Tigers (10-2) began preparations for the game with their first practice of the bowl season at the indoor practice facility on Saturday.
“Obviously, we were very disappointed with the outcome of the game, but the message was, ‘It is not going to be 31 years before we are back in the Orange Bowl. I’ll promise you that,’” Swinney said. “So it is good to have a chance to be back. We have to get a better result and that’s our goal.
“We are playing a team that is 24-1, well coached, big, tough and is a physical team.”
This will be Clemson’s second appearance in the Discover Orange Bowl in the last three years. The Tigers join Alabama, Stanford, Oregon, Florida State, and Wisconsin as the only schools to play in a BCS Bowl two of the last three years.
Clemson will take Sunday off and then will practice Monday-Thursday next week before taking Friday off for graduation. The Tigers last practice before Christmas break will be next Saturday. After the Holiday, the team will meet back in Clemson and will practice the 27th, 28th and 29th before boarding a plan and heading down to Miami, Fla., on the afternoon of the 29th.
The Tigers are allowed 15 practices in preparation for the Orange Bowl.
“I’m definitely excited to get back and finally start practicing for the Orange Bowl. It is going to be a great experience,” Clemson linebacker Spencer Shuey said. “It is going to be a great chance in another BCS bowl in my last year and my last game at Clemson. So it is definitely going to be exciting.”
All the Tigers who spoke Saturday seemed to be excited to be back out on the practice fields.
“We were a little rusty today, but it’s coming along,” wide receiver Martavis Bryant said. “Everything is going good. We just have to continue to come out, go to work and get better.”
Timothy quits football. Clemson will be without the services of right tackle Gifford Timothy for the bowl game and going forward. The red-shirt junior decided on Friday to retire from football. He will stay on the team as a student assistant so he can finish his education.
Timothy’s decision was based on his re-occurring knee injury.
“I had a talk with Gif on Friday and his knee is just too painful,” Swinney said. “It has been a frustrating year for him because he just can’t perform at the level he is accustomed to.
“What a great young man. Gif Timothy never complained and he gave every ounce he had to be the best he can be. He will stay on with us as a student coach and will be a good example to the young offensive linemen we have on this team.”
Timothy started six games this year and played in nine for a total of 263 plays. For his career Timothy started 17 games and played in 28 for a total of 1,128 snaps.
Orange Bowl tickets. The Clemson Athletic Ticket Office is currently selling tickets to the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl. Ticket prices range from $50 to $225, with a limited number of $50 tickets made available by the department in an effort to provide an economical option for fans wanting to support the Tigers against Ohio State.
Additionally, the athletic department is providing a complimentary parking pass ($20 value) to any ticket order of four or more. Fans purchasing a minimum of four tickets will also receive two complimentary passes ($40 value) to the One Clemson Tailgate on game day in Miami.
All ticket orders processed through the athletic department will have all processing or shipping costs waived. Purchase tickets online at ClemsonTigers.com.