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Orange Bowl: Preview, Predictions, TV info

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer

What: Discover Orange Bowl

Who: Clemson (10-2, 7-1 ACC) vs. Ohio State (12-1, 8-0 Big Ten)

When: Friday, Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Where: Sun Life Stadium (72,230), Miami Gardens, Fla.

Opening Line: Ohio State -2.5

What matters: Ohio State's first loss under Urban Meyer came at the worst time; as the Buckeyes were bumped from a shot at the national championship with a loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game. With the Orange Bowl serving as a consolation after a 24-1 run, Ohio State can still record its its first BCS bowl win (that hasn't been vacated due to NCAA sanctions) since the 2009-10 season. Clemson is back in South Florida as a replacement for Florida State, one of only two teams (the other being South Carolina) to defeat the Tigers in the last two seasons.

Who matters: There is NFL-bound talent all over the field in this game, but the focus of this game will start with the quarterbacks. Braxton Miller finished the regular season with 32 total touchdowns and over 1,000 yards rushing, paring with running back Carlos Hyde (1,408 rushing yards, 14 touchdowns) to make one of the most feared offensive backfields in the country. Tajh Boyd is the conductor of Chad Morris' high-powered offensive attack, but the senior quarterback will need the help of Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant to take the top off the defense and open up the ground game.

Matchup question: Ohio State's defensive front did not allow a 100-yard rusher until the Big Ten title game and led the nation (along with Stanford and Arizona State) with 40.0 sacks on the season. If Clemson's offense has a weakness, it is the turnovers that can occur from bringing pressure on Boyd. Clemson recorded 12 turnovers across 10 wins this season, while coughing it up 10 times in two losses. Considering how dominant the Hyde-led ground game can be, the Tigers cannot afford to hand over extra possessions to the Buckeyes.

Prediction: Both of these teams should enter the game with tremendous focus and a desire for redemption. Ohio State wants to shake the devastating loss in the Big Ten title game and Clemson would love to replace memories of the 70-33 Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia with a BCS bowl in in Tajh Boyd's final game. This game feels like a high-scoring toss-up, so I'll take Sammy Watkins over Bradley Roby in an instant-classic. Clemson 38, Ohio State 35

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