8:30 PM ET, January 3, 2014
Sun Life Stadium, MIAMI, FL
Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins connect as Clemson rallies past Ohio State
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Clemson's players lobbed oranges at their delirious fans, while coach Dabo Swinney lobbed a not-so-subtle jab at the Tigers' in-state rival.
Boyd threw for 378 yards and five touchdowns, Watkins had a record-setting night with 16 catches for 227 yards on what likely was his collegiate finale and No. 12 Clemson rallied to beat No. 7 Ohio State 40-35 on Friday in the FedEx Orange Bowl, a game the Tigers lost by 37 points just two years ago.
"We are Orange Bowl champs again," Swinney said. "Hey, listen: Two years ago we got our butts kicked on this field. And it has been a journey to get back. We're 22-4 since that night. And we are the first team from the state of South Carolina to ever win a BCS game."
Nope, beating the Buckeyes wasn't enough.
Clemson had to make sure the rival Gamecocks took notice as well.
"That was a lot of fun, man," Swinney said. "That was a lot of fun."
It surely didn't feel that fun after Boyd was intercepted with 1:27 left near midfield, with Ohio State needing a touchdown to take the lead. But Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller -- who was shaken up in the fourth quarter, saying afterward he had a cracked rib and a shoulder issue -- was picked off two plays later, and the Tigers ran out the clock.
Boyd's 5-yard pass to Stanton Seckinger with 6:16 remaining put the Tigers (11-2) ahead to stay, despite allowing 20 unanswered points in wasting an early 11-point lead. Watkins caught two scoring passes, plus became Clemson's career receptions leader and set an Orange Bowl record for yardage. Martavis Bryant caught two more TD passes for the Tigers, who posted consecutive 11-win seasons for the first time in school history.
"It's a very special night," Boyd said. "Just the significance of this game, not for me particularly, not for this team particularly, but for this university ... I couldn't pick a better way to go out as a senior."
Miller threw for 234 yards and Carlos Hyde ran for 113 more for Ohio State (12-2), which led 29-20 in the second half but wound up losing its second straight game -- after having won each of its previous 24 under coach Urban Meyer, whose record in Bowl Championship Series games fell to 4-1. Corey Brown had 116 yards receiving for the Buckeyes.
"It's going to sting for a while, probably a long while because we didn't finish," Meyer said. "It was right there."
Ohio State wound up allowing 115 points in the season's final three games. The Buckeyes gave up exactly that many in the season's first six games.
"We're not a championship-caliber defense right now," Meyer said.
The Buckeyes had a 29-20 lead in the third after Hyde picked up 31 yards on 4th-and-inches, then went airborne to break the plane of the goal line on the next play.
"I felt like the offense was starting to get clicking at that point," Hyde said. "I thought we could make it happen."
Then the mistakes started coming in bunches for Ohio State. A fumbled punt return and an interception led to touchdown grabs by Watkins and Bryant, putting the Tigers up entering the fourth.
Hyde caught a 14-yard scoring pass from Miller with 11:35 left, giving the Buckeyes a one-point lead, but Clemson and Boyd went on one last scoring march to give the Tigers the BCS win they've been seeking for years.
Boyd finished with 505 all-purpose yards, outgaining Ohio State by 78 yards himself.
"What a legacy," Swinney said. "He put an exclamation point on it tonight."
When Clemson played in the Orange Bowl two years ago, the Tigers gave up 21 points in the final 2:29 of the first half, letting a close game get blown wide open on the way to a 70-33 loss to West Virginia.
This time, the game didn't get away.
Boyd's 3-yard touchdown pass to Bryant had Ohio State facing a 20-9 deficit, but two scores in a 3 1/2-minute span gave the Buckeyes a 22-20 halftime lead. Clemson left Jeff Heuerman wide open down the middle for a 57-yard touchdown pass from Miller, making it a one-score game. And on a drive aided by a 15-yard penalty against Clemson's Darius Robinson, Miller ran in from 3 yards with 12 seconds left to give the Buckeyes their first lead.
But the game changed again, and in the end, Boyd and the Tigers were standing tall.
"It just means we're one step closer to our ultimate goal," Swinney said, "and that's to be the best in the country."
It was over when... Clemson's Stephone Anthony intercepted a Braxton Miller pass over the middle with 1:18 remaining, capping a crazy series of events.
Gameball goes to... Sammy Watkins. Playing in what was in all likelihood his final college game, Watkins broke the Orange Bowl receiving record before the third quarter was over.
Stat of the game... 1,000. The two teams combined for more than 1,000 yards of total offense, though Clemson offset some of its advantage with 15 penalties for 144 yards.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||7-13||2-13|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||2-2|
|TD||12:50||Tajh Boyd 48 Yd Run (Chandler Catanzaro Kick) |
|TD||05:44||Braxton Miller 33 Yd Run (Drew Basil Kick) |
|TD||04:56||Sammy Watkins 34 Yd Pass From Tajh Boyd (Chandler Catanzaro Kick) |
|SF||02:25||Penalty On Tajh Boyd In End Zone |
|TD||06:16||Martavis Bryant 3 Yd Pass From Tajh Boyd (Pat Failed) |
|TD||03:39||Jeff Heuerman 57 Yd Pass From Braxton Miller (Pat Blocked) |
|TD||00:12||Braxton Miller 3 Yd Run (Drew Basil Kick)||20||22|
|TD||05:50||Carlos Hyde 1 Yd Run (Drew Basil Kick) |
|TD||02:47||Sammy Watkins 30 Yd Pass From Tajh Boyd (Chandler Catanzaro Kick) |
|TD||00:32||Martavis Bryant 3 Yd Pass From Tajh Boyd (Chandler Catanzaro Kick) |
|TD||11:35||Carlos Hyde 14 Yd Pass From Braxton Miller (Two-Point Pass Conversion Failed) |
|TD||06:16||Stanton Seckinger 5 Yd Pass From Tajh Boyd (Two-Point Pass Conversion Failed) |
Tajh Boyd ran for a career-high 127 yards against Ohio State, highlighted by a 48-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. He gained 116 yards on designed runs, 43 more such yards on such plays than any other game in his career. It was only the second 100-yard rusher Ohio State has allowed this season (Jeremy Langford, 128 yards).
Tajh Boyd's average pass traveled 2.9 yards downfield against Ohio State, 4.7 yards shorter than his average pass distance this season and his shortest throw distance average in any game during the last three seasons. He has attempted five passes that traveled more than 10 yards downfield, his fewest such attempts in the last three seasons. - Boyd was 8-for-9 (88.9%) against five or more pass rushers against Ohio State. In such situations, his average pass distance was 0.4 yards downfield, with six of his nine attempts going behind the initial line of scrimmage. Against the blitz, he had 14.6 yards per attempt compared with 8.0 against standard pressure.[+]
Tajh Boyd Passing - This Season
Ohio State's 40-35 loss to Clemson in the Orange Bowl was the Buckeyes first-ever loss in 281 games when scoring at least 35 points. In school history, Ohio State is now 279-1-1 when scoring 35 or more points.
Sammy Watkins set a career-high and Orange Bowl-high with 16 receptions and 227 receiving yards Friday against Ohio State. He gained 202 yards after the catch, eclipsing his previous career high of 137 yards after catch against Auburn in 2011. - Tajh Boyd threw a total of 15 screen passes, 10 of which were thrown to Watkins. His 10 receptions on screens are tied with Jordan Matthews as most such catches among AQ receivers in any game this season.[+]
Sammy Watkins Receiving - Friday vs Ohio State
Coming into the Orange Bowl, Ohio State ranked third in FBS with 318 rush yards per game. Against Clemson, the Buckeyes gained a total of 193 rush yards, their second lowest output of the season (vs Wisconsin, 192 yards). Ohio State led all FBS schools with 56% of its rushes gaining more than five yards. On Friday, 18 of the Buckeyes' 48 rushes (38%) were for at least 5 yards.[+]
Ohio State Rushing - This Season
Braxton Miller was 10-for-12 (83.3%) passing after a play action against Clemson. He had 10 more yards per attempt after a play fake as well as both of his touchdown passes. Overall, 16 of Miller's 24 touchdown passes this season have come after a play action.[+]
Braxton Miller Play Action Passing - Friday vs Clemson
ESPN Stats & Information