College Football: Clemson and West Virginia Meet in Orange Bowl

Al Dannity | Updated Jan 04, 2012

The Mountaineers of West Virginia come charging into Miami looking to pull an upset against the resurgent Clemson Tigers. Al Dannity breaks down this clash of flawed conference champions.

Not quite the brand new day Dana Holgorsen’s elevation to head coach wasn’t initially meant to happen until next season. In that context, a trip to the BCS a year before he was even supposed to be in charge looks impressive. Fans in Morgantown were hoping for more than a 9-3 record and a split of the Big East title. It would have been foolish to believe Holgorsen could turn WVU into another Oklahoma State overnight. College Football betting fans still have a right to feel let down by the errors that plagued home losses to LSU and Louisville. The less said about the shellacking at Syracuse the better. Still, there were highs in 2011. Earning a trip to the Orange Bowl, albeit with help, and establishing the #7 passing offense in the nation were notable achievements for Holgorsen. Just like Michigan managed last night, the Mountaineers can make 2011 look a lot better by capping off the season with a BCS bowl win.

Which Clemson will show up? Dabo Swinney was legitimately on the hot seat at the start of the season. By the fifth game of the season he had already notched up three wins over ranked opponents. After starting 8-0 the Tigers were legitimate national championship contenders. The doubts returned barely a month later, with Clemson losing three of their last four regular season game. The Tigers came up big in Tampa however to win the ACC Championship Game, securing a first conference title in 20 years and a first trip to the Orange Bowl since winning the national title in 1981.

There’s no BCS Championship at stake tonight but the Clemson faithful are hungry for their biggest post-season win since the days of Terry Kinard and Jeff Davis. Both of those legends are now enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. A big night for Tajh Boyd would set him on the way to joining them in South Bend around 15 years from now.

The verdict West Virginia’s offense is going to surprise a lot of people tonight. Despite their gaudy stats, the Mountaineers aren’t spoken of in the same way as Oregon, Oklahoma State, or Arkansas. Much of that is due to the Big East’s reputation for offensive ineptitude. Clemson managed to deliver a high-octane offense in the defense-heavy ACC this season. With two potent attacks in town, Miami could be the scene for a shootout. I like the over of +63.0 tonight. For all of WVU’s offensive might, I like Clemson to utilise its opportunistic defense to come out on top in a thriller.

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