December 9, 2013 by Charles McDonald
I am going to be starting a series that previews each BCS Bowl game from a college football perspective, and an 2014 NFL Draft Perspective. Today, we begin with the Discover Orange Bowl that features a matchup between No. 7 Ohio State vs No. 12 Clemson.
Any college football fan who loves games with a lot of offense, talented skill players, and below average defenses should be glued to their television on January 3rd, 2014. This game features two of the most prolific offensive units in the country. Ohio State, led by junior quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde, rank 4th in the nation averaging 46.3 points per game. On the other side Clemson features it’s own high octane offense led by the lethal duo of quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Clemson ranks 11th in the country averaging 40.2 points per game this season. In laymen terms, a whole lot of points are going to be scored in this game. Ohio State sports the 29th ranked defense in the nation however that number is a little skewed because of their weak schedule. They recently allowed 41 points to Michigan and 34 points to Michigan State in their last two games. Clemson owns the 23rd ranked defense allowed just over 350 yards per game. Both offenses have to be licking their chops knowing they can exploit the defenses with their up-tempo attacks. While both teams average over 40 points per game, the way they score points are radically different. Ohio State boasts the 4th ranked rushing attack, averaging 317.5 rushing yards per game while holding a brutal pass offense ranked 91st in the country which averages 200 yards per game. Clemson on the other hand is a bit more balanced averaging 329.3 passing yards per game and 172.7 rushing yards per game which rank 12th and 62nd, respectively. It’s going to come down to which defense can suck it up and make a key stop late in the game. For that I trust the Buckeyes a little more than Clemson as the Buckeyes defense is led by future NFL players, mainly linebacker Ryan Shazier, cornerback Bradley Roby, and safety C.J. Barnett. Look for a lot of points to be scored but for the Buckeyes to hold on at the end.
Projected Final Score: Ohio State 38, Clemson 34
From an NFL Draft perspective the top prospect in this game is Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, a projected top 10 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Watkins is one of the most explosive wide receivers in the country with incredible run after the catch ability. It will be interesting to see if Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell decides to shadow cornerback Bradley Roby on Watkins for the entire game. Roby entered the season as a projected top 15 selection after a stellar redshirt sophomore season, but inconsistent play and off the field issues have knocked him down to most likely a second round pick. Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier is a fringe first round prospect and this game could really help him boost his stock if he plays well. A lot of NFL teams run a no huddle offense so if he can play well versus a no huddle team that features playmakers at every level of the offense, it could help him convince general managers that he deserves to be a first round pick. On the offensive side for the Buckeyes, running back Carlos Hyde, who is also a fringe first rounder, really has a chance to impress scouts against a Clemson defense that ranks 47th against the run, giving up an average of 152.6 yards per game. Hyde brings an impressive combination of size, speed, and power that could intrigue a lot of teams. Hyde is also dealing with off the field issues stemming from an arrest in Columbus earlier in the summer, so this will most likely be his last chance to impress scout on the field before they start digging into his past off the field. Perhaps the most intriguing prospect in this game is Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd. Boyd opened the season as a projected top 5 pick, even though he only measures in at around six feet tall. The recent success of Russell Wilson, who is five foot eleven, is giving teams a reason to look at smaller quarterbacks because it has been proven that they can succeed in the NFL. Boyd started off the season very strong until their midseason beat down by Florida State where they lost 51-14 at home. Boyd hasn’t been the same since then, throwing seven of his nine interceptions in the past six games. This will be the senior quarterback’s last chance to impress NFL scouts and prove that he can be an impact player at the next level. As of now, Boyd is projected to go in the early second round, but he could sneak into the first round if a quarterback needy team decides to swap draft spots with a contender.