By Will Vandervort
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Here is an inside look at the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl between No. 12 Clemson and seventh-ranked Ohio State. The Tigers will play Ohio State at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPN.
About The Ohio State Buckeyes: The Buckeyes are coming off a loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game. It was their first defeat in 24 games. Ohio State is making its first BCS Bowl appearance since the 2010 Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes are 5-3 all-time in BCS Bowl games. This is their ninth BCS bowl appearance, which is tied with Oklahoma for most all-time.
The Ohio State offense: The Buckeyes set records for points scored (602), points per game (46.3), touchdowns (82), passing touchdowns (36) and first downs (334) this year. Running back Carlos Hyde led the Big Ten in rushing with 1,408 yards and in average at 156.1 yards per game. Hyde and quarterback Braxton Miller have combined for 1,130 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns in the last four games.
The Ohio State defense: Junior linebacker Ryan Shazier leads the Big Ten in tackles (134) and tackles for loss (22.5). The Buckeyes will be without the services of defensive end and sack leader Noah Spence and could be without starting cornerback Bradley Roby after the junior injured his knee in the Big Ten Championship Game last month. Ohio State ranks seventh in the country at stopping the run (102.6).
The Ohio State Special Teams: Kicker Drew Basil is 9-of-10 this year on field goals with a long of 45 yards. Punter Cameron Johnston averaged 43.5 yards per punt and had 28 punts downed inside the 20 and 23 others were fair caught. Corey Brown is averaging 8.8 yards per return, while Dontre Wilson is averaging 24.9 yards on kick returns.
Records: Clemson 10-2; Ohio State 12-1
Series record: Clemson leads 1-0
Last meeting: 1978, Clemson won 17-15 in the 1978 Gator Bowl
Stat worth noting: If Clemson can defeat Ohio State, the Tigers will be the only program in the country to beat a top 10 BCS team in a bowl game in 2012 and 2013.
Memorable game: Danny Ford made his Clemson debut as head coach in grand style with a 17-15 victory over Ohio State and coaching legend Woody Hayes in the 1978 Gator Bowl. The victory gave the Tigers a final record of 11-1, tying the school record (at the time) for victories in a season. With the win Clemson finished sixth in both major polls.
Ford had been named head coach of the Tigers on December 10 after Charley Pell had resigned as head coach to lead the Florida program. Ford was just 30 years old at the time, the youngest head coach in the nation. He would go on to coach Clemson to the 1981 National Championship at the age of 33, still the youngest head coach to win the national championship.
While Clemson had a young coach on the sideline, it had an old quarterback by college standards on the field. Steve Fuller, a third-team (AP) All-America on the field and first-team Academic All-America, was in his third year as a starter and ran the offense efficiently.
Fuller engineered an 80-yard 15-play drive and finished it off with a four-yard run to give Clemson a 7-3 lead in the second period. Ohio State’s Art Schlichter, then a freshman, guided the Buckeyes on a touchdown drive of his own with just 1:21 left in the half, but the extra point was blocked, giving Ohio State a 9-7 lead.
But the Tigers drove down field behind Fuller passes to the Ohio State 30 and Obed Ariri kicked a 47-yard field goal to put Clemson up 10-9 at the break.
Clemson scored the only points of the third period on a one-yard run by freshman Cliff Austin. It completed an 83-yard drive that took 18 plays.
With 8:11 left and the Tigers holding a 17-9 lead, Schlichter scored his second touchdown of the night to bring Ohio State to within two points. The Buckeyes went for the tie, but Jim Stuckey tackled Schlichter on a quarterback sweep to prevent the score and preserve Clemson’s lead at 17-15.
Ohio State got the ball back after a failed Clemson drive. Faced with a third-and-five at the Tigers’ 24, second-team middle guard Charlie Bauman intercepted Schlichter when he dropped in coverage. It was the only interception of Bauman’s four-year career and the only turnover of the night for the Buckeyes.
On the return he was run out of bounds in front of the Ohio State bench. As Bauman got up, Hayes threw a bunch at Bauman’s throat and a scuffle followed as both benches cleared, and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on consecutive plays were called on Ohio State, giving Clemson excellent field position. Clemson ran out the clock from there, giving Clemson its first win over a Big Ten school.
Bubba Brown was the star of the Clemson defense with 22 tackles, still a school record for tackles in a bowl game. He remains Clemson’s career leader in tackles. Randy Scott added 16 and Jim Stuckey had 11 to key the Clemson defense.