Tag:ACC
Posted on: January 5, 2012 5:09 pm
 

Georgia Tech WR Hill declaring for NFL Draft

Posted by Chip Patterson

Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill has opted to forego his senior season and enter the 2012 NFL Draft. The Yellow Jackets were not an especially prolific passing offense this season, but when Tevin Washington needed a big catch Hill was his first target. The 6-foot-5, 206 pound receiver made his decision official on Wednesday.

“This was a life decision,” said Hill in an official release from Georgia Tech. “I came to the decision after talking with my family. I’m ready to move forward and work on getting better.

“I want to thank the coaching staff for helping me get to this level. I am thankful for Georgia Tech, my professors and definitely, the fans.”

Hill ranked ninth among ACC receivers with 820 yards in 2011, doing so with only 28 receptions. His 29.3 yards per reception led all FBS players, making the most of every opportunity in head coach Paul Johnson's run-friendly offensive scheme.

“Stephen feels that he is ready for the NFL and I know that is a dream of his,” Johnson said. “I hope that he is drafted high and does well as a professional.”

Hill has not hired an agent yet, but clearly has his mind set on gaining the interest of scouts in the coming months. With his size, speed, and athleticism he could be identified as both a great deep threat and red zone specialist. CBSSports.com has Hill ranked as the sixth best wide receiver in the 2013 class, and the coming weeks will tell how he stacks up against his new competition in the 2012 class.

Get caught up on the early-entry announcements HERE, and all the latest rankings, mock drafts, and breaking news check out the NFL Draft Home 

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Posted on: January 5, 2012 4:51 am
 

What's to be done about 'rogue' AP voters?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

A report came out Wednesday night that some AP voters were prepared to vote LSU as the national champion even if Alabama beats the Tigers at the BCS Championship on January 12. There are conditions, of course; if 'Bama wins handily, there's not going to be much doubt who the deserving national champion is. But still, if the title game is another close, unconvincing affair that this time tilts in favor of Alabama, there are people on record who are at the very least open to the prospect of sticking with LSU.

"Awarding a championship to a team that loses its final game is beyond counterintuitive and may be un-American," said David Teel of the Daily Press in Hampton Roads, Va. "But if LSU loses narrowly, I will absolutely consider (voting the Tigers No. 1). That's how good the Tigers' regular season -- five wins over the top 25, four away from Death Valley, including at Alabama -- was." Another voter in Albuquerque told CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd that Alabama's win "would have to be like 63-0 or something" before he'd consider voting for the Tide over LSU.

[Doyel: Splitting BCS national championship 'stupidest idea ever']

The conundrum Teel raises along with his supposedly "rogue" compatriots is a real one, and one that cuts to the core of polling as a college football institution. At the end of the day, though, Teel is not only well within his right to wonder aloud about this game's effect on his final ballot -- if the conditions are right, he should follow his gut and go with LSU to win the title.

First, it's important to understand why polling even needs to exist in college football (which it does!) in the first place. The validity of determining a Top 25 in college football is dramatically hindered by two factors:

1) We just don't have much data to work with. Assuming one of the central maxims of college football and the BCS is correct -- that the most important determinant in whether one team is better than the other is what happens when they play each other -- then in order to justify a two-team playoff out of a 120-team league, we would likely need way more than 12 or 13 data points for each team (especially with two-thirds of nearly every schedule dedicated to common games with a highly consolidated group of conference opponents). Baseball uses 162 games in a 32-game league, and this year, it needed all 162 just to determine an 8-team playoff setup.

Now, the point can be made that MLB didn't actually need all 162 games to determine its playoff participants -- nobody was screaming about major league baseball's illegitimacy when the season was 154 games long (or less) for the first 85 years of the league's existence, after all -- but if we extrapolate college football's rate of missing opponents to the MLB, the season would be four games long, three of the games would be dedicated to intra-division play, and the fourth game would be for one non-division opponent. And then two title game participants are chosen. If MLB commissioner Bud Selig proposed this, he would be fired. He would be quadruple-fired. Then the riots would begin.

2) The data we do have is highly contradictory anyway. Even if we had a season with dozens upon dozens of games, upsets are so prevalent that the rankings would still be a relatively poor predictor of future games. We all like to believe that if one team beats the other, it's better than the other team, but here's the full list of the Associated Press Top 25* teams that have not lost to a team ranked below them: LSU, Alabama, Oregon, Arkansas, Virginia Tech, Georgia, and Penn State. In other words, even among what voters have determined to be the best 25 teams, 76% are ranked ahead of a different team that beat them during the season, and it took only 12-13 games to get to that point. For the next 25 teams, the ones with even more losses than 1-3 on the year, there would be utter carnage in trying to only rank teams ahead of the ones they beat. Consider that the next time somebody makes the all-too-prevalent argument of "How can Team X be behind Team Y in the rankings when Team X beat Team Y?" 

Now, even though college football is filled with game-changing factors that hinge on chance (weather, injuries, fumbles) this pattern of teams routinely losing to worse teams is not a phenomenon unique to the sport. Going back to baseball, losses are so prevalent that even the best teams rarely win more than two-thirds of their games. In professional football, the teams with the best regular-season record are barely more likely to make the Super Bowl than the average playoff-bound team. But those two leagues (and every other professional team sport) feature multi-round playoffs, so the contradictions are rendered meaningless through the process of the playoffs -- even as said playoffs routinely eliminate teams that would take a BCS Championship bid if such a system existed in the league.  

College football does not have the luxury of expanding its schedule to adequately address either of the the above factors, especially in light of the FBS' mammoth number of programs -- football is debilitatingly brutal as it is, plus the prospect of trying to turn a profit in the postseason is prohibitively difficult for athletic departments even with a one-week schedule -- so it has to make do with its small, weak set of data in order to determine championship participants. In must step pollsters to interpret that data in their own way, and generally, those pollsters do a very good job of contextualizing the data and putting together a (temporarily) coherent Top 25 -- at least in the poll's weekly aggregations. So given the limitations of college football scheduling, there's really no other way to delineate between specific programs than by subjective ranking.

The rankings are each pollster's individual interpretation of the entire season, and if there's any doubt about that, regard the amount of teams that find themselves ranked second in the season's very final poll without playing in the BCS Championship because they won their bowl games while ranked third while the BCS Championship loser was thumped so soundly it couldn't hang onto the second-ranked spot. Those votes as No. 2 aren't protest votes to suggest that the BCS took the wrong team to challenge the top-ranked team or that a plus-one needs to be enacted immediately, they're reflections of each team's work on the season as a whole.

So given that, it's particularly backwards of the BCS and Coaches Poll to require that the winner of the BCS Championship be voted as national champion while allowing the loser to be ranked lower than second if need be. The season as a whole is what it is, and if AP voters determine that a potential slim Alabama victory over LSU at a (semi-) neutral site in the BCS Championship doesn't constitute enough of a reason to like Alabama's season more than LSU's, those voters should absolutely rank LSU first in their final ballots. They should be prepared to defend the decision, of course, but they should do it; otherwise, what's the point of being granted a vote in the first place?

*The AP Top 25 was chosen because the Coaches Poll and BCS exclude Southern California for reasons that are not germane to this particular topic.
 

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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 4, 2012 3:04 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2012 3:08 pm
 

Jon Tenuta leaving Illini, back to NC State

Posted by Chip Patterson

Just one day after NC State linebackers coach Jon Tenuta reportedly accepted the defensive coordinator position on Tim Beckman's staff at Illinois, the 31-year veteran assistant coach has decided to return to Raleigh.

Tenuta has played a big role in the Wolfpack's success at linebacker over the last two seasons, coaching all-conference talent like Nate Irving, Terrell Manning, and Audie Cole. On Wednesday, Illinois released an official statement from Tenuta regarding his decision to return to NC State.

"Illinois is a great program and I think the world of Tim Beckman," Tenuta said the official release. "I've known Beck for 20 years and I have no doubt that with the staff he is putting together, he will have Illinois at the top of the Big Ten very soon.

"However, my family comes first and I may have made a decision without fully thinking through the situation with them. My son is a senior in high school and has signed a letter of intent to play baseball at N.C. State, and it is something I just don't want to miss. I was one of the first people to contact Beck and congratulate him on the opportunity at Illinois, and I wish him and the Illini nothing but the best."

The Wolfpack have won 17 games in two seasons since Tenuta joined Tom O'Brien's staff, including two bowl game victories. He spent time with Chan Gailey at Georgia Tech and Charlie Weis at Notre Dame, but was not retained after head coaching changes at both stops.

The decision leaves Beckman with four unfilled slots on the Illinois coaching staff. He will be bringing two assistants with him from Toledo - Alex Goldsh as an offensive assistant and Mike Ward as a defensive assistant - and has opted to retain defensive line coach Keith Gilmore from Ron Zook's staff. Beckman has chosen to wait on assigning specific titles, though it was reported Tenuta would be the defensive coordinator.

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Posted on: January 4, 2012 1:12 am
Edited on: January 4, 2012 1:59 am
 

This Sugar Bowl was a bit sour



Posted by Tom Fornelli

NEW ORLEANS -- Before you read this column on the Sugar Bowl, I must implore you to watch this video, for you cannot understand what this Sugar Bowl was without seeing it.

Did you see the way that puppy fell down the stairs? It made you laugh, sure, but at the same time it was something adorable that failed. The puppy just wasn't big enough for the stage it was on, and although it got to the bottom of the stairs as it intended to, it didn't do so in the prettiest of ways.

That was the 2012 Sugar Bowl.

Two teams that probably weren't ready to tread down this flight of stairs did so anyway, with the rest of us waiting to see which team tumbled to the bottom first. Turns out it was Michigan, even if you were sure the Wolverines had broken 30 bones on the way down, there they stood at the end celebrating.

From the second this matchup was announced there were people complaining about the selection of both Michigan and Virginia Tech. There were teams more deserving of this chance, teams like Boise State and Kansas State. Unfortunately for those two schools, they don't carry the same national cache or brand that Michigan and Virginia Tech do. So this is what we were stuck with, and judging by all the empty seats at the Superdome on Tuesday night, that commercial appeal didn't do much to sell tickets.

There were also the stories about how each team was going to prove that it belonged in New Orleans and in a BCS bowl game. Virginia Tech would show us all, as would the Wolverines. Instead what we saw were two teams that ingested a bit too much sugar and suffered some kind of diabetic seizure on the field.

Lofting up wounded ducks that turned into 45-yard touchdowns, or running fake field goals that were botched entirely yet still somehow managed to work.

The Michigan Wolverines won this game despite being outgained by Virginia Tech nearly two to one. The Hokies had 377 yards of total offense in this game compared to Michigan's 184, yet it was the Wolverines who emerged victorious. While the Hokies routinely fell down to the bottom step and were on the precipice of winning this contest, they continually decided to take a step back every time victory was in reach. Meanwhile Michigan threw all caution to the wind and just flung itself down the stairs headfirst.

Had this game been an iPhone app, it would have been called Fiesta Bowl Lite and been available to download for free. Think about it, Virginia Tech jumped out to an early lead with two scores, but instead of touchdowns like Stanford had against Oklahoma State, the Hokies had to settle for field goals.

Then there was the second quarter comeback for the Wolverines just when you thought they had no chance.

In the end, much like Stanford before it, Virginia Tech managed to lose a game in which it seemingly dominated its opponent for most of the night, and on a missed field goal in overtime to boot. Of course, this was the lite version of the Fiesta Bowl, so Virginia Tech missed only one field goal, not two. Then, like Oklahoma State, Michigan rode a couple of touchdown catches by a wide receiver in Junior Hemingway and took advantage of Virginia Tech's overtime failure to win the game on a field goal.

The only difference was that the Fiesta Bowl was entertaining because it was an excellent story written with deep characters portrayed by great actors like Andrew Luck and Justin Blackmon.

The Sugar Bowl was essentially the movie "New Year's Eve." You assemble a big name cast and then hurriedly write a mediocre script and wing it while on the set. Then you hope enough people show up to see it before the word gets out about how terrible it is.

And in the end, the only thing either team convinced me of on Tuesday night was that this movie would have been a hell of a lot more entertaining had it starred Boise State and Kansas State.
Posted on: January 4, 2012 12:27 am
Edited on: January 4, 2012 12:27 am
 

QUICK HITS: Michigan 23 Virginia Tech 20 OT



Posted by Tom Fornelli


MICHIGAN WON. I'm not sure how they did it even though I saw it with my own eyes, but the Michigan Wolverines won the Sugar Bowl 23-20 over Virginia Tech in overtime on Tuesday night. The Wolverines seemed lifeless for the first 29 minutes of the game, but the Hokies were only able to put 6 points on the board in that time despite outgaining the Wolverines 181 yards to 81 yards until that point. But then Denard Robinson unleashed a pass down the right sideline that seemed destined for the hands of a Hokie, yet Junior Hemingway pulled it in for a 45-yard touchdown pass -- one of Hemingway's two touchdown catches on the evening.

Then the silly began. Virginia Tech fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, and a few plays later Michigan tried one of the worst fake field goals that ever worked in the history of organized football, as holder Drew Dileo's pass was deflected before landing in the arms of offensive lineman Jareth Glanda for a first down. After that the Wolverines tacked on a field goal to take a 10-6 lead into the locker room even though they'd been completely out played for 29 minutes and 11 seconds.

Virginia Tech would continue to outplay Michigan in the second half, battling back to tie the game in the closing seconds on a Justin Myer field goal -- Myer being the Hokies third-string kicker -- to send the game into overtime. Unfortunately for the Hokies, after making his first four kicks of the night, Myer would miss on his fifth attempt in overtime.

A few plays later Brendan Gibbons' 37-yard field goal went through the uprights to give Michigan the win.

HOW MICHIGAN WON. This is not an easy question to answer. The Wolverines were outgained by the Hokies 377 to 184. Denard Robinson completed only 9 of 21 passes for 117 yards and rushed for 13 yards on 13 carries, the lowest rushing output of his career. But if there was a reason for Michigan to win this game, it was because Virginia Tech didn't take full advantage of its early chances.

Yes, the Hokies dominated the first half, but even then Tech could only manage 2 field goals and a 6-0 lead. Then there was the ill-advised fake punt out of a timeout in the fourth quarter that set Michigan up with great field position for a field goal that gave them a 20-17 lead at the time. 

There were also 3 Virginia Tech turnovers. Perhaps none bigger than the fumble following Michigan's first score of the game, as it seemed to completely shift the momentum to Michigan's sideline.

WHEN MICHIGAN WON. Not until Gibbons' 37-yard field goal split the uprights in the overtime.

WHAT MICHIGAN WON. A BCS bowl game, which, given the direction Michigan fans had seen this program going in the last few years under Rich Rodriguez, has to feel like somewhat of a minor miracle. The turnaround in this team, particularly on defense, was quicker than any reasonable expectation, and the Wolverines have their first BCS win since the 2000 Orange Bowl. Brady Hoke, Al Borges and Greg Mattison deserve a lot of credit in Ann Arbor.

WHAT VIRGINIA TECH LOST. There were plenty of people who said that Virginia Tech didn't deserve to play in this game ahead of some programs like Kansas State or Boise State. It's certainly reasonable to agree with that assessment, but not because of the way the Hokies played on Tuesday night. Virginia Tech outplayed the Wolverines everywhere but on the scoreboard. That said, it's the Hokies fifth consecutive loss in a BCS bowl game, not picking up a victory since winning the Sugar Bowl in 1995.

THAT WAS CRAZY. The fake field goal that shouldn't have worked yet worked to set up the Michigan field goal at the end of the first half was just hard to explain. So much went wrong on that play for it to work out so well for the Wolverines, but anytime an offensive lineman can get a big reception, I'm all for it.

GRADE: C+. Much like the Rose Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl, the Sugar Bowl was a close game that came down to the last few moments. Unlike those other two bowl games, it wasn't because two teams were playing to the best of their abilities and matching up well with one another. This game was only close because neither team was capable of taking control of it, despite numerous opportunities to do so. So while it may have been close it wasn't great.
Posted on: January 3, 2012 5:19 pm
 

VIDEO: Citrus Bowl Stadium Time-Lapse Changeover

Posted by Chip Patterson

Every bowl season, there are a handful of stadiums that will be forced to make a quick transition between different events. For example, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome will transition from Tuesday night's Sugar Bowl to Saturday's New Orleans Saints game back to preparing for Monday's BCS National Championship Game.

Another one of those quick changeovers takes place every year in Orlando, where Florida Citrus Sports hosts the Champs Sports Bowl and Capital One Bowl in the same week. This year, the group filmed the transition from Thursday night's Notre Dame - Florida State game to Monday's showdown between South Carolina and Nebraska.

Video courtesy of Florida Citrus Sports



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