West Virginia and Clemson will be meeting Wednesday night in the 2012 Orange Bowl, their second meeting in only 22 years, in what promises to be a shootout. The quarterbacks headline the game: Tajh Boyd, who broke school records for passing yards, touchdown passes and total offense, leads #15 Clemson, while Geno Smith, ninth in the nation in total offense, leads #23 West Virginia. Combined, the two have thrown for 7,556 yards and 56 touchdowns.
Both teams average more than 33 points and 440 yards per contest thanks to star-studded weaponry. For Clemson, tight end Dwayne Allen, who won the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end, will be sure to get the attention of the West Virginia defense along with true freshman receiver Sammy Watkins (77 receptions, 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns)and tailback Andre Ellington (1,062 yards and 10 touchdowns).
For West Virginia, receiver Tavon Austin, who averages 191.2 yards per game and ranks second in the nation in all-purpose yards, will need to be shut down alongside Steadman Bailey, the team's greatest deep threat, who caught 67 passes for a school-record 1,197 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The QBs are the engine, but the tailbacks are the fuel. The Tigers with Ellington should have the advantage with Dustin Garrison for West Virginia and a West Virginia team that is 100th in rushing offense is No. 100 in the country. Besides the numbers for Andre Ellington mentioned above, he is also second on the team in all-purpose yardage with 1,302, and can easily become a dual threat that can hurt the Mountaineers in open space.
Clemson's defense led by Andre Branch and Brandon Thompson can also pose a threat to the Mountaineers, despite the inconsistency this past season. At the same time, West Virginia's defense has a little bit of momentum coming into this game as they allowed just 366 total yards on average throughout the final three games of the season, all wins.
The Mountaineers have gotten far depending heavily on Smith's arm and two outstanding receivers, but Clemson seems to have more options and are more balanced on offense. The defenses, though, will determine which team comes out victorious, and for this game, Clemson will be the more spectacular defense. West Virginia, although the defense played good enough to keep the team from losing the final three regular-season games, can't do the same with a faced-paced Tigers offense.
Clemson should win 45 to 41.
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