Orange Bowl Preview: Clemson-West Virginia Players To Watch, Point Spread, Prediction, and Keys to Victory

The Orange Bowl gets underway tonight between the #15 Clemson Tigers (10-3) squaring off with #23 West Virginia Mountaineers (9-3).

This is the first major bowl game for Clemson since defeating Nebraska in the 1982 Orange Bowl.  West Virginia on the other hand is 2-0 in BCS bowl games and will look to keep this unbeaten streak alive in their first ever Orange Bowl appearance.

On paper this might not be the best BCS bowl matchup. but there are plenty of explosive players on both teams to make this a high quality game. Here are some players to watch, keys to victory and prediction for this game between the top teams from the Big East and ACC Conference.

Sammy-Watkins* – Sammy Watkins photo credit: via Fits News

CLEMSON PLAYERS TO WATCH

WR Sammy Watkins

He is just freshman and in his first season at Clemson had a major impact on making the Tigers one of the top passing teams in the country. Watkins caught 77 passes, for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns in one of the best seasons by any freshman in college football.

QB Tahj Boyd

He actually had committed to West Virginia before changing his mind and heading to Clemson. Boyd is a very athletic quarterback and had an outstanding season completing 60.5% of his passes, for 3,578 yards and 31 touchdowns.  Boyd was one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC but might best be known for this blunder against Florida State (see below).

Tahj-Boyd-GIF* –Tajh Boyd  GIF  credit: via SB Nation

WEST VIRGINIA PLAYERS TO WATCH

WR Tavon Austin

The Third-team All-American is not only an outstanding wide receiver but is also a major weapon on special teams.  He set a school record with 89 receptions this season and averaged 14.1 yards per punt return which ranked fifth nationally.

QB Geno Smith

The Mountaineers were seventh in the nation in passing yards per game (341.8 YPG) and that was because they were solid at the quarterback position.  Smith completed 65% of his passes, for 3,978 yards and 25 touchdowns.

KEYS TO VICTORY

Clemson

They need to force Geno Smith into throwing interceptions because in two of the three losses by the mountaineers he threw a pair interceptions.

West Virginia

They are going to have to slow down Tahj Boyd because if he gets into a groove the Clemson offense is almost unstoppable.

PREDICTION

It has been 30 years since Clemson has won a major bowl game and I think they are due for win.  Clemson gets their first BCS bowl game win in shootout defeating the Mountaineers 45-38.

**********

Orange Bowl Game Info:

  • When: Wednesday, January 4
  • Where: Sun Life Stadium (Miami, Fla.)
  • Time/TV: ESPN 8:30 PM EST
  • Point Spread: Clemson -2.5


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