Orange delight: team effort beats OSU 40-35

Offense outscores OSU in shootout, defense slams the door late with two takeaways

Clemson's Martavis Bryant catches a touchdown near Ohio State's Armani Reeves during the third quarter at the Discover Orange Bowl in Sun Life Stadium Miami, Florida.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Martavis Bryant catches a touchdown near Ohio State's Armani Reeves during the third quarter at the Discover Orange Bowl in Sun Life Stadium Miami, Florida.

Dabo Swinney says Clemson's next great step is to consistently 'win games like these.'

The 12th-ranked Tigers put their New Year's resolution into action Friday night, as Clemson slammed the door on the ghost of the 2011 Orange Bowl and beat sixth-ranked Ohio State 40-35 at Sun Life Stadium.

Tajh Boyd put on show with arm and legs in his final college game, and Sammy Watkins set a career and Orange Bowl record with 16 catches for 227 yards.

But it was Clemson's defense that both set the stage and provided the finishing touch for the Tigers' coveted 11th victory and first BCS bowl victory.

After the Tigers went ahead 40-35 with a fourth-quarter touchdown, Clemson's defense came up big with a pair of game-clinching takeaways - first, a fumble-causing sack of Braxton Miller by Bashaud Breeland and recovery by Spencer Shuey, and then, after OSU had given itself a final chance by picking off a pass by Boyd, an interception by Stephone Anthony that finished the job.

The victory capped a bittersweet season for the Tigers, who climbed to their highest national ranking since 1981, but then twice stumbled on the big stage with losses to top-10 teams.

Unlike those games, Clemson successfully executed Swinney's 'plan to win' against the Buckeyes, as they turned the turnover margin in their favor and won with what Swinney described as a "total team effort."

"We found a way to win, after trying to find some ways to lose it," said Swinney. "We've got a lot of heart on this team. Two years ago we got our butts whipped all over this field, and we're 22-4 since that night.

"I cannot tell you how proud I am of our football team and our staff. They found a way tonight. This was a great blessing to have the opportunity to come back to the Orange Bowl. To see our guys play like a family, love each other, pick each other up - you don't win as individuals.

"We're the first team from the state of South Carolina to win a BCS bowl game. It was a great, great win for Clemson football, and the best is yet to come."

An entertaining and eventful first half ended with the Tigers trailing 22-20, and wondering how they came to be on the short end of the scoreboard.

Clemson rolled up an early 321-105 yardage advantage, got a pair of touchdown passes and a career-long 49-yard touchdown run by Boyd, sacked OSU's Miller three times, recorded five tackles for loss, and slammed the door three times with three-and-outs.

But Boyd also took an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone for a safety and threw a costly and an ill-advised interception when he attempted to flip the ball over an OSU defender to Watkins at the goal line.

Both teams missed first-half PATs, with Chandler Catanzaro banging his attempt off the left upright after Clemson's third touchdown, and OSU's Drew Basil having a kick blocked by the middle of the Tigers' defensive line.

The teams traded quarterback inflicted blows to open the game.

The Tigers won the toss, took the football, converted a third-and-seven with a 15-yard pass from Boyd to Rod McDowell, and then faced another third-down play from just inside the Ohio State side of midfield after C.J. Davidson and McDowell picked up eight yards on inside runs.

On third and two, Boyd kept on a left-side read option, sprinted through a massive hole opened by Brandon Thomas and Tyler Shatley, and outran Ohio State's pursuit for a 49-yard touchdown. It was the longest rush of Boyd's career by 22 yards.

The Buckeyes answered, with some help from the Tigers.

On a third-and-six play from the OSU 40, Vic Beasley chased down Miller and sacked him for a 17-yard loss. Beasley's emotional demonstration after the play was flagged as taunting, however, and the Tigers were penalized 15 yards, giving the Buckeyes an automatic first down. OSU got another five yards when the Clemson bench was penalized for sideline interference.

Ohio State then converted a fourth-and-two fake punt at midfield, and several plays later, Miller sprinted 33 yards for the tying touchdown.

The Tigers struck back immediately. Boyd hit Watkins for a 27-yard gain from the 25, and, after an eight-yard run by C.J. Davidson, delivered a 34-yard touchdown pass to Watkins, who ran past freshman safety Vonn Bell.

Ohio State advanced into Clemson territory, but three straight defensive plays by Anthony - a pair of tackles and a PBU bat-down - forced the Buckeyes to punt from the Clemson 41. Defensive back Armani Reeves downed the punt near the goal line, setting up Ohio State's safety, when Boyd was forced to throw the ball away under pressure.

Clemson got three-and-out stops on Ohio State's next two possessions, took the ball at its own 31 after a Buckeye punt, and threatened when Boyd beat a corner blitz with a throw to freshman tight end Jordan Leggett for a 43-yard gain.

On third-and-three from the OSU six, Boyd rolled to his right, started to run, and, as he approached the first-down marker, attempted to flip the ball over Bell to Watkins in the end zone. Bell leaped, one-handed the ball and pulled it down for an interception, leaving the Tigers empty-handed and clinging to a 14-9 lead.

Another defensive three-and-out put the Clemson offense in business again, and this time the Tigers cashed in. Watkins sprinted 29 yards on a jet sweep on the opening play of the drive, and then, after a personal foul penalty set the Tigers back to first-and-20, moved into scoring position when Boyd picked up another corner blitz and passed to Martavis Bryant for a 22-yard gain to the Ohio State 22.

Boyd scooted 15 yards on the next play for a first-and-goal at the seven, and two plays later lofted a pass to Bryant, who snared the ball over Reeves for a touchdown.

Ohio State retaliated with a 57-yard touchdown pass from Miller to tight end Jeff Heureman, and then got the ball back with 1:09 remaining after stopping McDowell just short of the first down marker on a fourth-and-five play from the OSU 40.

The Buckeyes made the most of their opportunity. Miller picked up first downs with throws to Philly Brown and Heureman, and then, after a 15-yard personal foul penalty against Clemson's Darius Robinson, found Brown open behind a confused Jayron Kearse for a 24-yard gain and a first-and-goal at the three. Miller ran the final three yards for the touchdown, after breaking a tackle attempt by Kearse in the backfield.

The Tigers finished the first half with a 362-254 yardage advantage, led by Boyd with an even 300 yards of total offense. Watkins caught eight first-half passes for 130 yards.

Ohio State continued its scoring run in the third quarter, again aided by the Tigers.

Starting at their own 13 after an exchange of punts, the Buckeyes moved into Clemson territory via a holding penalty against Breeland and an interference call against Robinson, and then faced a fourth-and-one at the Clemson 32.

Running back Carlos Hyde, who had been kept under wraps by the Tiger defense up to that point, broke through the line of scrimmage, stepped out of a tackle, shrugged off another, and ran 31 yards before being chased down from behind by Kearse at the one.

On the next play, Hyde leaped over the top and into the end zone, and Ohio State pushed its lead to 29-20 and its scoring run to 22-0.

The Tigers had to punt the ball away on their next possession, but got a break when OSU's Brown fumbled the punt-catch and Robert Smith recovered at the Buckeyes' 33.

On third-and-seven from the 30, Boyd rolled to his right and fired deep on the run to Watkins, who snared the ball over cornerback Doran Grant in the end zone for a touchdown that cut the Buckeyes' lead to 29-27.

Three plays later, Clemson had the ball back in OSU territory, after Kearse picked off a pass by Miller, intended for Brown, at the 38.

It took just four plays for the Tigers to regain the lead, as Boyd passed to Watkins for 15 yards, kept for another 15, for a first-and-goal at the eight. After McDowell ran to the three, Boyd lofted a left-side pass for Bryant, who fought off interference by Reeves, stayed with the ball after a carom and secured the ball in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.

Next, it was Ohio State's turn.

Aided by another Clemson penalty - a second sideline interference/delay of game call - for a third-down conversion, the Buckeyes moved 72 yards in nine plays. Miller set up the score with a 24-yard wheel route connection with Hyde, and then went back to the running back for a 14-yard throwback touchdown, in which he rolled to his left and fired back across the field to Hyde, uncovered on the right sideline.

Leading 35-34, Ohio State tried for a two-point conversion, but was foiled by Quandon Christian's PBU at the goal line.

The high drama continued when the Tigers got their hands back on the ball.

Clemson took the ball at its 25 and moved swiftly down the field via first-down connections between Boyd, McDowell, Watkins and Stanton Seckinger.

On first down from 16, Boyd kept the ball for a 14-yard gain, but was denied an apparent touchdown when a review determined he had stepped out of bounds at the two.

Clemson failed to punch the ball in on a pair of runs by Boyd, and then took a five-yard penalty on a false start by Isaiah Battle. On third down, Boyd started to his right behind motion by Watkins and threw back across the field to Seckinger, uncovered for the touchdown.

The Tigers, looking to expand their lead to seven, tried a bit of trickery on their two-point conversion attempt, as Watkins took a direct snap and lofted a too-soft pass for Boyd that was tipped from his hands by a Buckeye defender.

Leading 40-35, the Tigers grabbed their chance at victory with their third takeaway of the game, as on third-and-long after a tackle for loss by Corey Crawford, Breeland came from the corner and sacked Miller, knocked the ball loose and Shuey recovered at the OSU 48.

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Comments » 23

KIMOSAMI writes:

Starting to buy in to Dabo's way: We're not hoping to win anymore.....we're EXPECTING to win.

Clemson will beat S.Carolina next year in Death Valley. Things will return to normal.

Congrats, Tigers!!

drunkninja18 writes:

A great win for Dabo, Tajh and the rest of the Clemson Tigers!

Ready for the naysayers about this win and our chances to play in a BCS game next year.

Keep it up Dabo and Go Tigers!

33dtb writes:

1. Did the referees come from a junior league headquartered in Ohio ??

2. How could Shuey have been reasonably expected to avoid "hammering Braxton into the ground" ??? ...and why hear about it 16 times? ....no comment about all the times our QB "got laid out" ??

3. Is "delay of game due to sideline interference" some high school rule in Ohio ???? ....and the escalating penalties?

4. Were the announcers Ohio St alum or what?

CUNo1Fan writes:

Great win for the team and program. Fought through mental mistakes that included several very dumb and costly penalties that resulted in points for tOSU, costly turnovers that cost the Tigers points, and some pretty crappy refs.

Great job on hanging in there, not folding when tOSU got up, and fighting back for the win.

Now if we can just get some top quality trench players to go with the skill and speed players the Tigers are already getting, the program can be a major contender every year.

84tele writes:

Point spread? We don't need no stinkin point spread.

Great, great win.

harryD writes:

Sammy Watkins nuf said......

TheTruth46 writes:

in response to KIMOSAMI:

Starting to buy in to Dabo's way: We're not hoping to win anymore.....we're EXPECTING to win.

Clemson will beat S.Carolina next year in Death Valley. Things will return to normal.

Congrats, Tigers!!

Gettin' a little ahead of yourself there, aren't you Tonto? You would think Clemmons just won the BCS championship, or better yet...beat USC or FSU...NOT!!! Just keep drinking that koolaide and the next thing you know...you'll be 0-10 against those pesky coots and Everglades Injuns.

harryD writes:

Hey truth46 wanna go snipe hunting?

TrevorT writes:

in response to TheTruth46:

Gettin' a little ahead of yourself there, aren't you Tonto? You would think Clemmons just won the BCS championship, or better yet...beat USC or FSU...NOT!!! Just keep drinking that koolaide and the next thing you know...you'll be 0-10 against those pesky coots and Everglades Injuns.

So let me get this straight. Clemson fans shouldn't be happy about a BCS Bowl victory against one of the most storied programs in college football, just because we lost to the best team in the country and gave one away to the chickens? If the "koolaid" is consistent 11 win seasons then pour me another glass. I'm not even slightly worried about those other wins coming. Just a matter of time.

NICE GAME TIGERS!

KIMOSAMI writes:

in response to TheTruth46:

Gettin' a little ahead of yourself there, aren't you Tonto? You would think Clemmons just won the BCS championship, or better yet...beat USC or FSU...NOT!!! Just keep drinking that koolaide and the next thing you know...you'll be 0-10 against those pesky coots and Everglades Injuns.

Paste this in your 'He told me so' file:

Clemson will not only beat S.Carolina in 2014, but the drunk roosters will stop crowing and get back to cackling like fry hens regularly do. Like the yard birds they have been for the last century.

In short,....the short term run as 'chicken salad' will once again return to the regular role of CHICKEN FECES for the poultry.

The old ball sack(AKA Otis Spurrier) can plan on upping his already large daily consumption of alkyhall. He's gonna need it.

TheTruth46 writes:

in response to KIMOSAMI:

Paste this in your 'He told me so' file:

Clemson will not only beat S.Carolina in 2014, but the drunk roosters will stop crowing and get back to cackling like fry hens regularly do. Like the yard birds they have been for the last century.

In short,....the short term run as 'chicken salad' will once again return to the regular role of CHICKEN FECES for the poultry.

The old ball sack(AKA Otis Spurrier) can plan on upping his already large daily consumption of alkyhall. He's gonna need it.

Just a trollin' away...and got 3 big 'uns. Tonto...just keep on adreamin'...you'll wake up in late November, 2014, after another behind the woodshed whuppin.' The old ball sack just keeps kickin' your puddytats all over the yard, and owns Blabbo Weenee. To my old friend Scary Harry snipe, try something a lil more original. Mark my words Tonto...another one comin' next year by the roosters and the injuns. The only feces you will see will be in a kitty litterbox, behind that woodshed. You might wanna go find your friend with the mask and the white horse...you're gonna need him.

gamecockg writes:

in response to KIMOSAMI:

Starting to buy in to Dabo's way: We're not hoping to win anymore.....we're EXPECTING to win.

Clemson will beat S.Carolina next year in Death Valley. Things will return to normal.

Congrats, Tigers!!

Get ready here comes the other THUMB (6 STRAIGHT)

Foogie writes:

in response to gamecockg:

Get ready here comes the other THUMB (6 STRAIGHT)

The Gamecocks looked great in their BCS bowl. Oh, wait. My bad - they never have and never will play in a BCS bowl game. Seriously? Come up with something original - fear the thumb is so 3rd grade. The Gamecocks are such a joke.

••GO TIGERS!!••

tigerrob44#291802 writes:

2012 we lost to FSU after leading by 14 points with 10 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. And we should have had a 21 point lead. Remember Sammy overthrowing the ball to Nuk I think it was? He was wide open on a wheel route? We got it taken to us and wound up getting beat by FSU down in Tallahassee. We lost to South Carolina at home in 2012 due mainly for having a depleted defensive secondary devastated by injuries. Without major depth, when you lose both cornerbacks and a couple of other starters from an 11 man team you will have some problems. Thompson burned us on 3rd and long plays and we just couldn’t contain him so we lost. Had we had our starters in the game it probably would have been a different outcome. The FSU game this year I have no explanation for that one. I just know they did not get that much better than us in one year. Maybe we just had a real bad night and maybe they just played over their heads. Who knows? But they are a good team and I don’t think Auburn has a chance to beat them, barring stupid turnovers or some kind of freak play or two. The South Carolina game this year was a total joke. We would have blown them out had we not turned the ball over 6 times and they know it, too. Try to talk to a Gamecock about the Orange Bowl and OSU 4 turnovers. They will not even talk to you about it because they know the turnovers killed Ohio St and if they say that or admit it, then they have to say the same thing about our game with them and they will not admit to the fact we only lost because of the 6 turnovers. Take away the turnovers in the South Carolina game and we win the game big. Speaking of turnovers and how they affect a game, remember the OSU guy that muffed the punt when they had gone back up by 9? We got the ball and took it right down the field and scored to get back to a 2 point game. Ohio St turned the ball over 4 times and 3 of those turnovers were caused by us or at least great defensive plays by one of our guys. They were actually lucky they didn’t get blown out. The Tigers played a fantastic football game with a large, national television audience. We did ourselves a lot of good last night and Dabo, the players, and all the coaches deserve credit and a lot of it for a great football game by our team and the coaches did a really good job and making me proud to have a ring on my finger that has Clemson University’s name on it. Of course, I am always proud of my degree from Clemson no matter how many football games we win. This year’s Orange Bowl may do more for us than last year’s Peach Bowl and it did wonders. Two bowl games in a row and two wins in a row over top 10 traditionally powerhouse programs. Not bad for a smaller school at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where we all speak Mandarin.

33dtb writes:

in response to TheTruth46:

Just a trollin' away...and got 3 big 'uns. Tonto...just keep on adreamin'...you'll wake up in late November, 2014, after another behind the woodshed whuppin.' The old ball sack just keeps kickin' your puddytats all over the yard, and owns Blabbo Weenee. To my old friend Scary Harry snipe, try something a lil more original. Mark my words Tonto...another one comin' next year by the roosters and the injuns. The only feces you will see will be in a kitty litterbox, behind that woodshed. You might wanna go find your friend with the mask and the white horse...you're gonna need him.

Total meetings 111
Series record Clemson leads, 65-42-4

TheTruth46 writes:

in response to 33dtb:

Total meetings 111
Series record Clemson leads, 65-42-4

Here we go again...another historian. By the way..how are ya on current events...like the last 5 years? Not so good...huh? And you whine and cry about turnovers, which are by the way, part of the game. In particular when your opponent takes the ball away from you. You brag about BCS bowls, which you back into. Let's see how you do starting next season. And still, you can't beat the yardbirds. Just step up to the plate and admit Spurrier and The Gamecocks own you right now.

BlueRidgeBengal writes:

Trollth46's Orange Obsession continues . . .

Nate writes:

The Gamecocks band wagon has no history past 2008! They have blinders on! They cant even see that the reason they have done so good is the players that the old ball sack brought in witch are all gone! It will be wait till next year once more for them! Oh a hint for you yesterday is history not current events so your point is invalid 65-42-2!!!! !

gamecockg writes:

in response to Nate:

The Gamecocks band wagon has no history past 2008! They have blinders on! They cant even see that the reason they have done so good is the players that the old ball sack brought in witch are all gone! It will be wait till next year once more for them! Oh a hint for you yesterday is history not current events so your point is invalid 65-42-2!!!! !

Nate you don't know a dxxx thing about GAMECOCK football. We will be good next year 10 or 11 wins plus bowl win. Clemson will not be as good(boyd,watkins,bryant,mcdowell) gone about 80 percent of offence.

33dtb writes:

in response to gamecockg:

Nate you don't know a dxxx thing about GAMECOCK football. We will be good next year 10 or 11 wins plus bowl win. Clemson will not be as good(boyd,watkins,bryant,mcdowell) gone about 80 percent of offence.

Clemson (and the rest of the world) spell that "offense", with an "s".

harryD writes:

Truth46 where the heck is my pizza I ordered it an hour ago is your VW RABBIT broke down..

TigerFan95 writes:

in response to gamecockg:

Nate you don't know a dxxx thing about GAMECOCK football. We will be good next year 10 or 11 wins plus bowl win. Clemson will not be as good(boyd,watkins,bryant,mcdowell) gone about 80 percent of offence.

Gamecock,
You lose the winningest QB in your program's history, Clowney a player that you guys say is the best player ever, an All-American DT in Quarles, your other starting DE in Sutton, both your starting CBs and your best WR in Ellington and you think your team is going to be just as good or better? Not to mention your conference schedule is tougher with A&M and Auburn being added....Your defense is going to be the worst its been under the Spurrier era and losing Connor Shaw is going to be huge both from a leadership perspective and play making ability for your offense. His running ability covered up huge flaws in your offense and was the singular difference in multiple games the last couple years. I know Thompson has played a lot and has won a couple big games for you including over us, but hes not the QB Shaw was and our defense is much, much better than it was two years ago when he beat us..With Thompson and Shaq Davidson I see your offense being similar to what it was like when Blake Mitchell and Sidney Rice were there except Davidson is not in the same category as Rice. I see an 8-4 maybe even 7-5 season including a loss to us next year. Im not trying to burst your bubble or anything but you're just due for that type of season--even Spurrier himself said so. I think we could be due for the same as well.

harryD writes:

Guys please let the coots deliver the pizza are trained to deliver...otherwise they might hurt someone while texting and driving

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