January 3, 2014…..
Dabo Swinney and his Tigers were making a return trip to the Orange Bowl, the scene of one of the biggest embarrassments in college football history. Two years earlier, in this same game and on this same field, Clemson had its doors blown off by West Virginia, 70-33. The Tigers were not only looking for their first ever BCS win, but were also trying to win 11 games in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history.
This time the opponent was national power Ohio State. The Buckeyes were 12-1, ranked 7th in the BCS, and in their second season under the guidance of Urban Meyer. They had won a national title the year before and had lost to Michigan in the regular season finale, their first loss in 24 games under Meyer. Clemson came in at 10-2 and ranked 12th in the BCS standings.
Clemson got off to a fast start, with QB Tajh Boyd getting his team on the board early.
This Tiger team might have featured the same core of guys it did in the loss to West Virginia, but they were no longer young and inexperienced, they were now seasoned vets.
By the midway point of the second quarter, Clemson was up 20-9. By the midway point of the third quarter, Ohio State had scored 20 unanswered points, and led 29-20. The Buckeyes then had a fumbled punt return and a Braxton Miller interception, both resulting in Clemson TDs. Entering the 4th quarter, the Tigers led 34-29.
Carlos Hyde’s 14 yard TD reception put Ohio State up 35-34 early in the 4th, but Clemson had one more drive in them. On the ensuing possession, Clemson started at its own 25. Boyd would lead a 13 play scoring drive that ended with a Stanton Seckinger 5 yard TD catch, giving Clemson the 40-35 lead.
Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins had monster games on this night. Boyd had over 500 all purpose yards and 6 TDs combined. He was 31-40 through the air for 378 yards, and 5 TDs. He carried the ball 20 times for 127 more yards, including the long TD run. Watkins had an Orange Bowl record 16 catches for 227 yards, along with 2 TD catches. Braxton Miller would have a bruised shoulder and cracked rib by the time this one was over. He was hit so hard at times, ESPN analyst referred to him multiple times as a “Hurtin’ Buckaroo.”
The Tigers had their first BCS win and had exorcised the demons from the West Virginia debacle. It was their first Orange Bowl win in 31 years, and Dabo Swinney boasted to the crowd afterwards how this was the first team from the state of South Carolina to win a BCS game.
You can check out the condensed version of the game at the link below.