The final BCS Bowl—before the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game, of course—will be tonight’s 2012 Discover Orange Bowl, set to be contested between the Big East Conference Co-Champion West Virginia Mountaineers and the ACC Champion Clemson Tigers. Set to be played in prime time from Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida, I was very excited to put these two teams on the field against one another for STAT BOX STORIES.
Clemson holds a slight ratings advantage in NCAA Football 12, so I decided to suit up as West Virginia in their 2010 Nike Pro Combat uniforms as kickoff drew near. Would this game live up to the offensive résumés of the two schools involved? Read on to find out!
To begin the game, I lost the coin toss and Clemson elected to kick off to begin the game. My first drive lasted just over a minute and a half, balancing playcalls between passing and running, before finally scoring on a 2-yard rush to take an early 7-0 lead. My good fortune continued with Clemson’s first possession, as a sack on third down forced the Tigers to punt the ball back to my offense.
Unfortunately, my next possession came to an abrupt end with an interception on my side of the field after my drive got thrown off by a first down sack. With 2:12 remaining in the first quarter, Clemson capitalized on the turnover with a 10-yard touchdown pass to tie the game. My next possession went no better once I had the ball back, as Clemson again picked off my quarterback and brought the ball back into Mountaineers territory. Less than a minute after their previous touchdown, Clemson found the end zone again on a 3-yard rush by their halfback to go up 14-7.
My offense continued to struggle, and a sack on third down forced me to go three-and-out and punt the ball back to a hungry Clemson offense ready to extend their lead. As the first quarter ended and the second quarter began, the Tigers entered the Red Zone and had their eyes on more points. Unfortunately for them, I managed to grab an interception and then follow it up with a quick drive ending with a 49-yard touchdown pass to tie the game just one minute into the second quarter.
All of a sudden, momentum was swinging back in my favor; on Clemson’s next offensive drive, I forced their quarterback to fumble on a 3rd-and-1 scramble and recovered the ball. With the ball back in hand, I drove down to the Clemson 2-yard-line and was facing 4th-and-Goal. Instead of settling for a field goal, I gambled and throw a pass to my wide receiver in the flat for a touchdown and a 21-14 lead with 3:01 remaining in the first half.
My defense stepped up again and forced two sacks in a single drive, making Clemson go three-and-out; my offense had some struggles of its own, however, and did the same before punting back to Clemson. The Tigers drove deep into Mountaineers territory but had to settle for a field goal attempt with 17 seconds remaining in the half. With the deficit cut to 21-17, momentum was threatening to turn back towards Clemson.
The ensuing kickoff, however, was brought back 98 yards for a kickoff return touchdown by West Virginia’s WR #1, allowing the Mountaineers to extend their lead once more and go up 28-17 as time ran out for the first half.
To begin the third quarter, Clemson’s opening drive resulted in a lengthy 47-yard field goal conversion to trim West Virginia’s lead to 8 points. The Mountaineers returned the kickoff past midfield and converted a 4th-and-1 try on Clemson’s 38-yard-line, but then the Tigers defense grabbed an interception and brought it back into West Virginia territory to keep their hopes alive. The hopes were short-lived, however, when two plays later Clemson was picked off at the West Virginia 4-yard-line on a deep throw.
The very first play of West Virginia’s possession deep in their own territory resulted in an incredible 96-yard rushing touchdown by the young HB #13 of the Mountaineers, silencing the Tigers faithful and severely hurting Clemson’s chances of staying in the game. The Tigers’ offense stayed focused, however, and just over a minute later finished off a solid drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 35-27.
Defensive deficiencies on both sides continued as West Virginia scored less than a minute later on a 70-yard touchdown pass to WR #3 to get the Mountaineers more breathing room with 47 seconds left in the third quarter. On Clemson’s next possession, a third down sack forced them to go three-and-out and give the ball right back to West Virginia. The Mountaineers drove deep into Clemson territory and had 2nd-and-Goal on the Clemson 2-yard-line when WVU’s quarterback was stripped of the ball and Clemson’s SS #5 picked the ball up and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown to keep Clemson alive. The Tigers’ 2-point conversion pass attempt, however, was swatted away for an incompletion.
West Virginia’s next drive resulted in a 39-yard field goal, and then the Mountaineers picked off Clemson on their next drive and returned the ball to the Clemson 1. One play later, HB #13 scored his third rushing touchdown of the game from a yard out to go up 52-33. The turnover woes continued for Clemson on their next drive as a completed pass resulted in a forced fumble and recovery by West Virginia.
The Mountaineers strung together another drive in Clemson territory and scored the game’s final points on an 8-yard run by HB #13 with 1:27 remaining in the game. Clemson was unable to put anything together on the game’s final possession, and the final score saw the Mountaineers win 59-33 for a 26-point victory.
In terms of final team statistics, the Mountaineers ended up gaining nearly 200 more yards than Clemson. West Virginia scored four times on the ground and three times through the air, while Clemson got one rushing touchdown and two passing scores. Neither team was particularly strong at converting 3rd Downs in the game, but West Virginia converted two 4th Downs including a touchdown pass from 2 yards out. Turnovers were also prevalent, with WVU throwing three interceptions and losing one fumble while Clemson had two lost fumbles and three picks. The Mountaineers had a huge day in terms of kick return yards, with WR #1 responsible for 273 yards and a touchdown for the game. Each team was also heavily penalized, with West Virginia taking 5 flags for a total of 50 penalty yards and Clemson penalized 6 times for 63 yards.
Even though WVU’s QB #12 had 9 fewer passing attempts than his opposite number for Clemson, his 3-touchdown performance and 283 yards through the air helped the Mountaineers keep the lead. West Virginia’s HB #13 carried 29 times for 186 yards and 4 touchdowns, making him an easy choice for Player of the Game. WR #4 for the Mountaineers had 4 catches for 127 yards and a touchdown, while WR #1 had 4 catches for 86 yards and a receiving touchdown to go with 7 kick returns for 273 yards and a kick return touchdown as well. The only defensive touchdown of the game came by way of Clemson’s SS #5 and his 90-yard fumble return for a score, but in the end the Tigers could not overcome West Virginia in this BCS Bowl match-up.
Four more Bowl Games remain on the schedule; be sure to come back to STAT BOX STORIES on Friday, January 6th as the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL continues with the AT&T Cotton Bowl between Kansas State and Arkansas!