By Will Vandervort
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables was a little miffed earlier this week when a reporter asked if the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl matchup with seventh-ranked Ohio State was going to be a shootout.
And it was, but it was Venables’ defense that ended the 80th Orange Bowl Classic when linebacker Stephone Anthony picked off a Braxton Miller pass at the Clemson 38 with 1:18 to play, sealing the 12th-ranked Tigers’ 40-35 victory over Ohio State.
Anthony’s interception could not have come at bigger time. Two plays earlier his quarterback, Tajh Boyd, made a horrific error on third down as the Tigers were trying to run out the clock. Boyd was picked by Ohio State’s C.J. Barnett at the Clemson 48.
But after Miller was nearly intercepted on first down, Anthony ended it with his interception.
The Clemson defense also came up big on the Buckeyes previous drive. In a seesaw battle, the Tigers grabbed the lead when Boyd threw a six-yard touchdown pass to tight end Stanton Seckinger with 6:16 to play.
That’s when the defense came up big. On third-and-13 from the Clemson 46, cornerback Bashaud Breeland came off the edge, hit Miller and sent the ball up in the air where Spencer Shuey intercepted it.
Boyd, in his last games a a Tigers, had 505 total yards and threw five touchdowns and ran for a sixth, while also rushing for a career-high 127 yards. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins had an Orange Bowl record 16 catches for 227 yards and two touchdowns.
Clemson finishes the season 11-2, it’s second straight 11-win season. The Tigers will also be ranked in the top 10 for a second straight year when the final polls are released next week.