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Posted on: January 5, 2012 12:18 am
Edited on: January 5, 2012 12:55 am
 

QUICK HITS: West Virginia 70, Clemson 33



Posted by Chip Patterson


Clemson entered the Orange Bowl with hopes of repeating history, on the 30th anniversary of the program's last trip to this game - also their last National Championship. The head coach of that team, the legendary Danny Ford, was honored before the game. All-American linebacker Jeff Davis was one of the Tigers' honorary captains. On Wednesday night, the Tigers wrote themselves into the BCS history books.

Just not for the reasons head coach Dabo Swinney would have liked.

Inestad it was West Virginia instead who made history, and they made it in several different ways.

First, as a team:
- Most first half points (49) in any bowl game, ever.
- Most points (70) in any bowl game, ever.

Then some individuals:
- Geno Smith's 6 passing touchdowns are new Orange and BCS bowl records, surpassing Matt Leinart (2005) and Tom Brady (2000).  The six touchdowns also tie the record for touchdowns scored by a single player in any bowl game, ever.
- Tavon Austin's 4 receiving touchdowns are new Orange Bowl and BCS bowl records, and tie the record for any bowl game, ever.

WEST VIRGNIA WON. A high-scoring game was expected, but no one imagined it would be so lopsided in favor of the Mountaineers, as the West Virginia re-wrote the Orange Bowl record books in a 70-33 rout of Clemson.

HOW WEST VIRGINIA WON: Both teams played a dead-even first quarter that met the pregame expectations, with Clemson leading 21-17 and both putting up over 150 total yards of offense. But West Virginia took advantage of three Clemson turnovers in the second quarter and some shaky play by the Tigers' secondary to outscore the Tigers 35-3 in the period. The 49 points allowed in a half by Clemson's defense was the most in any bowl game ever.

WHEN WEST VIRGINIA WON: The second quarter slaughter began at the end of a very dominant Clemson drive, which was featured a 39-yard run by Andre Ellington to set up 1st and Goal from the three yard line. But when Ellington was stood up by the pile at the goal line on the following play, West Virginia cornerback Darwin Cook jumped in and stripped the ball from his hands. While most players were still involved in the pile-up at the goal line, Cook dashed 99 yards the other way for a West Virginia touchdown. The Tigers did not come close to reaching the goal line again until DeAndre Hopkins scored with 1:37 left in the third quarter.

WHAT WEST VIRGINIA WON: Respect on the biggest stage. With all the talk about conference realignment and BCS automatic bids, the Mountaineers would like to remind you they are a damn good football team. For all the talk about West Virginia's offense, they would not have been in the position to score if it wasn't for the defense forcing turnovers and holding the Tigers from the end zone for nearly 30 minutes of game time between the 2nd and 3rd quarter.

WHAT CLEMSON LOST: A historic meltdown on what many thought would be a historic night for the Tigers. After winning the ACC Championship, head coach Dabo Swinney thought the program "broke through walls" and began moving forward into the status of the elite. Many figured an Orange Bowl win would help cement that status as a rising program. Clemson fans better hope there is not another 30 year drought before their next Orange Bowl appearance, or else this memory will last a long time.

THAT WAS CRAZY. After the aforementioned Darwin Cook strip-touchdown, the cornerback ran through the end zone and was carried by his momentum right into Obie, the Orange Bowl mascot. Cook proceeded to clothesline the big fuzzy fruit, before hitting the barricade at the back of the end zone. (Check out this .gif, via SB Nation)

BOWL GRADE: A+/F. All depends on your perspective for this one. For a West Virginia fan, the dismantling of Clemson on the national stage was sweet redemption from weeks of naysaying about their place in this game. The 8-5 Mountaineers were deemed "not good enough for a BCS bowl game" by many, and the beatdown was a huge West Virginian middle finger to those doubters. For Clemson? This was arguably the program's worst loss in recent memory. On the 30th anniversary of their last National Championship, with the head coach and star linebacker in attendance; the Tigers were ripped apart. The ultimate "Clemson pulling a Clemson," as some might choose to say.

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 12:25 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2012 12:57 pm
 

Orange Bowl coaches ready for a close BCS game

Posted by Chip Patterson

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The four teams in action in the first BCS bowl games combined to score 162 points on the first college football day of 2012. But despite all the offense on display, the outcome of each game has been one score or less and determined by big plays on defense and in special teams.

Whether it was Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis dropping the ball just inches from the sideline, or Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson unable to hit a potential game-winning field goal from 35-yards out; the plays that have determined the first BCS bowl games have come in unexpected ways.

"You can't relax, however many plays are in the game, 160, plus your special teams, you've got to play every play like it's the play that's going to determine the outcome of the game," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney explained on Tuesday.  "That's the mentality you have to have, because when you look back, that's what you see. It's usually four, five, six plays that changed momentum, created opportunity and so forth."

In fact, neither of these teams would be in South Beach this week if it wasn't for a few key plays that led to wins earlier this season. Clemson's hot 8-0 start included huge comeback wins against Maryland, Florida State, and Auburn. West Virginia overcame a fourth-quarter deficit in each of their final four wins in the regular season. If Monday's BCS games were any indication of the way the Orange Bowl will play out, both of these squads should be ready to face the challenge.

"It's a three-sided game, and that's the one thing that we learned about a month and a half ago when we lost to Louisville," said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen.  "Our team came together, and on all three sides of the ball we figured out that if all three sides of the ball don't play together and pick each other up to try to be fighting for the same goal, then you're probably not going to win very many games.  That's the one thing we did over the course of the last three games was play together."

More highlights from Dabo Swinney and Dana Holgorsen on Tuesday:

- While there are many upsides for the extra preparation time given to BCS bowl participants, Holgorsen did offer one interesting take on a downside. As coaches try to to do the best to prepare for the contest, the West Virginia head coach pointed out it is important not to over prepare.

"Yeah, you've got to be careful with time on your hands," Holgorsen said.  "Coaches have a tendency to outsmart themselves at times, so you've got to figure out what your team does well, which we've had a lot of time here in the last four months to figure out what our team does well, and we've just got to put them in those positions to be successful."

- Dwayne Allen is clearly a focus of this game. He is a key weapon that needs to get going for Clemson, and one of the primary concerns for West Virginia's defense. Dabo Swinney, ever the salesman for his program, gave his glowing explanation of why Allen is the best tight end in the country.

"Well, Dwayne is 6'4", about 255. He runs like a wide out. He blocks like a tackle and has really improved in other parts of his game as far as running with the ball after the catch, his flexibility, and he's got great ball skills, and he's got a high football IQ. So you put those things together, you're going to get a very, very good football player. He's tough and aggressive, likes to play. The moment is never too big for him. And he practices hard, studies and prepares."

- There was plenty of discussion on both sides about the opportunity to showcase and promote their program around South Florida this week. Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey, and Ivan McCartney all hail from nearby Mirmar, and Swinney mentioned a Monday night visit from the family of wide receiver Jacoby Ford, now with the Oakland Raiders. With the recruiting potential in the area - not to mention the competition to land those recruits - the opportunity to play in South Florida as the only bowl game of the night is one that any program would hope to seize.

- Both teams spent Monday night attending the Miami Heat's game against the Atlanta Hawks in American Airlines Arena. The experience of watching LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and the rest of the defending Eastern Conference Champs in person was a huge deal to the players.

Also? A huge deal to Dabo Swinney. When asked about the most fun part of the week, Clemson's head coach quickly and enthusiastically mentioned Monday night's activity.

"Lebron James, man! Even thought I didn't get to meet him, I love basketball. That was pretty neat to get to go down to the Heat game. What a great arena that is. I really enjoyed that."

For all the latest on Clemson and West Virginia up until kickoff, check out the Orange Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 11:40 am
Edited on: January 3, 2012 12:50 pm
 

Orange Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Chip Patterson


A look at the matchup that could decide the Orange Bowl

Najee Goode, LB, West Virginia vs. Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson

West Virginia's first team All-Big East linebacker is one of the most important pieces of the defense, and will be counted on step up in his last game as a Mountaineer. The redshirt senior is tied with offensive lineman Don Barclay and defensive end Julian Miller as the most experienced players on the team, with all three appearing in 51 career games for West Virginia. Goode has done everything the Mountaineers needed this season - from starting games at all three linebacker positions to recording seven tackles and forcing the game-saving fumble against USF in the regular season finale.

Now Goode needs to deliver one last memorable performance in order to contain the many weapons in Clemson's offense. Arguably his toughest challenge will be keeping an eye on tight end Dwayne Allen. In head coach Dabo Swinney's own words: Allen runs like a wide out, blocks like a tackle, and has improved his flexibility and football IQ. With dangerous deep threats like Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins on the outside, the duties of containing Allen will often fall on the linebackers.

Clemson's goal will be to exploit holes in the West Virginia coverage the way Syracuse did with Nick Provo in their 49-23 upset victory earlier this season. The Mountaineers struggled to keep Provo marked, particularly in the red zone, and eventually gave up six catches for 61 yards and three touchdowns. Dwayne Allen is arguably an enhanced version of Provo, and Goode must help the linebackers keep the 6-foot-4 Mackey Award winner from pulling down passes in the end zone if they hope to leave South Beach with their third BCS bowl win since 2005.

For all the latest on Clemson and West Virginia up until kickoff, check out the Orange Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 10:49 am
 

Keys to the Game: Orange Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WILL WIN IF: They maintain a balanced offensive attack. Before the ACC Championship Game, CBSSports.com's Travis Sawchik suggested that Clemson had strayed from a run/pass balance late in the regular season. He told me in the moments leading up to kickoff that if they brought that balance back against the Hokies, Clemson would win. The Tigers threw the ball 30 times and ran 45 times, led by Andre Ellington's 125 yard performance, and ran away in the second half of a 38-10 win. So heading into another primetime battle with a potent opponent, I'll piggy back Travis' key. Ellington will play a huge role in keeping West Virginia's defense honest. Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel's 3-3-5 scheme has given quarterbacks as talented as Sam Bradford trouble in bowl games, and the best way to open up the passing attack is make them fear the run. With Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, and Dwayne Allen all healthy there should be opportunities for mismatches with the coverage. But you lessen the chances of getting those matchups if the opposition doesn't respect your ground game.

WEST VIRGINIA WILL WIN IF: The offensive line can protect Geno Smith from the Clemson pass rush. With leading rusher Dustin Garrison sidelined earlier this week with a knee injury, the Mountaineers will rely on the offensive line and backup running back Shawne Alston to keep Clemson's pass rush at bay. In the ACC Championship Game, the Tigers held All-ACC running back David Wilson to a season-low 32 yards on 11 carries. Once the Tigers had neutralized Wilson and forced the Hokies to become one-dimensional, defensive end Andre Branch explained it was time to "pin our ears back" and get after Logan Thomas. Branch, Brandon Thompson, and the rest of the Tigers' pass rush terrorized Thomas throughout the second half. The onus will be on the Mountaineers offensive line to give Smith enough time to check through his progressions and find a receiver in space. With Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, and Ivan McCartney on the outside Smith should be able to find an open man against a secondary that has given up at least seven combined touchdowns and at least 200 yards in their last three contests.

X-FACTOR: Dwayne Allen. Arguably West Virginia's worst loss this season came at the hands of Syracuse in a 49-23 blowout loss in the Carrier Dome. The Mountaineers defense was burned by all-conference tight end Nick Provo, who had a team-high six catches for 61 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Jeff Casteel's unit will see a similar threat to Provo in Clemson's all-conference tight end Dwayne Allen. At 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, the Mackey Award winner has used the time off to recover from a nagging toe injury that limited him late in the regular season. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris moves Allen around the formation, and he is one player the Mountaineers cannot lose track of anytime he is an eligible receiver.

For all the latest on Clemson and West Virginia up until kickoff, check out the Orange Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: December 2, 2011 12:06 am
 

QUICK HITS: West Virginia 30, South Florida 27

Posted by Chip Patterson

WEST VIRGINIA WON. It was a sloppy game with five combined turnovers and 17 combined penalties, but the Mountaineers emerged victorious and earned a share of the Big East title with a 30-27 win over South Florida on Thursday night in Tampa. The Bulls out gained the Mountaineers, who struggled to get anything going offensively until the fourth quarter. West Virginia now needs Cincinnati to beat Connecticut on Saturday to likely win the three-team tiebreaker and earn a bid to a BCS bowl. If Connecticut beats Cincinnati, Louisville will win the two-team tiebreaker and take the BCS bid.

HOW WEST VIRGINIA WON: Capitalizing on South Florida's mistakes. The Bulls shot themselves in the foot over and over down the stretch after dominating for most of the second half. The penalties, missed tackles, and especially BJ Daniels' fumble late in the fourth quarter allowed West Virginia to bounce back after the Bulls rolled off 17 straight points to take a 27-20 lead. While the ground game has sputtered for long stretches this season, West Virginia got the right performance at the right time from Dustin Garrison. The freshman running back picked up 54 of his 88 yards and the only offensive touchdown on the final two Mountaineer drives. South Florida was committing their defense to pass protection, and Garrison found enough room to make moves and keep getting first downs.

WHEN WEST VIRGINIA WON: On 4th and 10 with 13 seconds remaining, Geno Smith found Stedman Bailey for an impressive diving catch in the middle of the field. The Mountaineers were able to spike the ball and set up Tyler Bitancurt for the game-winning field goal as time expired. All of it was set up by BJ Daniels' fumble with more than three minutes remaining at the West Virginia 30 yard line.

WHAT WEST VIRGINIA WON: The best shot they have to keep their BCS hopes alive. Last season the Mountaineers lost the three-team tiebreaker to Connecticut and missed out on a chance to return to a BCS bowl game for the first time since the Rich Rodriguez era. They would not have even had that opportunity this year with a loss on Thursday.

WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA LOST: South Florida missed out on the postseason for the first time since 2004. The close loss was representative of the Bulls' season, which started with so much hope after the first four wins. South Florida has never finished the season with just one conference win, dating all the way back to their Conference USA seasons in 2003-2004.

THAT WAS CRAZY. The Mountaineers average over 35 points per game on the season, but have been slow to get started in their last three contests. West Virginia's first offensive touchdown did not come until there was 5:09 remaining in the game. The last three games have all been slow-starting for the Mountaineers offense, but they have been the three crucial wins needed to keep the BCS hopes alive.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: June 10, 2011 12:26 pm
 

Mountaineers land two veteran transfers

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Most of the headlines this week regarding West Virginia have been about its head coach-related goings rather than its comings, but even the apparent demise of Bill Stewart shouldn't totally overshadow two welcome transfer arrivals--one of which could thrive in Dana Holgorsen's spread schemes.

According to the Charleston Gazette, the Mountaineers welcomed two BCS-level transfers this week, each of whom will employ the NCAA's grad school exception (a la Jeremiah Masoli) and be eligible to play this season. One of them is former Wake Forest wide receiver Devon Brown, and the other is Notre Dame linebacker Steve Paskorz, and while neither is likely to make quite the waves Masoli did, both could prove to be important contributors.

Despite only checking in at 5'9" and 185 pounds, Brown caught more passes than any other receiver on the Demon Deacon roster the past two seasons. And as you might expect given his size and quickness, he also saw plenty of time at punt returner, kickoff returner, and even as a ball-carrier on reverses and similar plays.

He now goes to play for a coach in Holgorsen with plenty of experience in turning jitterbug slot receivers like Brown into useful weapons--it won't be a surprise at all if he sees plenty of time and makes a legitimate impact in his one season in Morgantown.

As for Paskorz, the Pennsylvania native played in 10 games a redshirt freshman but was mostly limited to special teams duty until a torn ACL kept him out for the duration of the 2010 season. Though it won't be easy climing all the way back from that injury, the graduation of three starting senior linebackers at WVU and Paskorz's experience could give him a shot at playing his way into the rotation. And even if he doesn't, he could still see the field on special teams.

On paper, neither player shapes up as the sort of transfer that will singlehandedly tilt the balanace of the Big East. But if the Mountaineers are serious about challenging for their first conference crown (and attendant BCS berth) since the Rich Rodriguez era, they'll need depth--and Brown and Paskorz will no doubt pay dividends on that front.

Posted on: September 9, 2010 1:32 pm
 

Quick Hits: UCLA, Mike Leach, Wake Forest

Posted by Chip Patterson

- UCLA will start the banged-up Kevin Prince at quarterback on Saturday night against No. 25 Stanford.  Even though he looked rusty in the Bruins' 31-22 loss against Kansas State, but Prince is convinced he will be able to perform up to par come game time. "I can make all the throws I need to make," said Prince, who injured his right shoulder in the Kansas State game. "If I didn't feel comfortable with that, then I wouldn't feel comfortable playing."  Prince has been splitting time in practice with Richard Brehaut, being kept on what head coach Rick Neuheisel is referring to as "a pitch count.

- Former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach was never afraid to speak his mind when he was leading the Red Raiders, and now he will have the opportunity to broadcast his thoughts to satellite radio customers all over the world.  Scary thought, right?  Mike Leach will co-host a three-hour show on weekdays on the newly launched Sirius XM college sports station.  From 12-3 p.m. ET you can hear Leach and Jack Arute on Sirius XM's College Football Playbook.  In other broadcast news, Leach will make his television broadcast booth debut for CBS College Sports this weekend when Central Florida hosts North Carolina State.

- Wake Forest return man Devon Brown was disappointed to see a flag on the field after returning the opening kick for a touchdown in the Demon Deacons' opener against Presbyterian College on Thursday.  Not as disappointed as Marcus Dean Hobson of Greensboro, N.C..  In a new promotion by the Wake Forest radio network, Hobson would have won a $20,000 car had the play not been called back for an illegal block.  In the "North Point Chrysler Jeep Dodge Run Back For A Ride" contest, if Wake Forest returns the opening kick of either half for a touchdown, a randomly selected contestant will win a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee.  Wake Forest ended up winning the game 53-13.  Hobson?  Well he certainly didn't drive off in a new ride.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com