Believe it or not, the Big East and ACC still have automatic BCS bids after last year's disaster. In 2010 Virginia Tech and UConn represented their respective conferences and each lost its BCS game by 28 points. Thankfully for all of us, these two teams ought to be a little better than their predecessors. Well, maybe.
Both teams must be disappointed with their performances down the stretch. Clemson's prolific offense ground to a halt as they lost to Georgia Tech, South Carolina, and North Carolina State while barely squeaking past Wake Forest. Their explosive offense inexplicable returned to form in a 38-10 beatdown against Virginia Tech. West Virginia, meanwhile, barely earned its spot in this game. They won three of their final four, but the combined point differential in those four games was only ten points. Despite a three-way tie for the conference title, West Virginia managed to squeak into this game.
Go ahead and say it: West Virginia has a flair for the dramatic this season. The Mountaineers never made things easy on themselves, down to the final game of the season. They dropped a game at Syracuse (has anybody figured that out yet?), and lost at home to Louisville for the first time since 1990, forcing them to scramble to win a share of the Big East title for the sixth time in the past nine seasons. Under first-year coach Dana Holgorsen, the Mountaineers were the preseason choice to win the Big East because of high expectations for a high-powered offense. Indeed, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin shattered passing and receiving records, but nobody would say things ran smoothly for this team all season. The defense, which lost seven starters off one of the best groups in the nation last season, struggled for a good portion of the season at stopping the run and getting a sustained pass rush.
And a quick look at Clemson.
Clemson enters the Orange Bowl with the nation’s No. 21 passing offense under first-year starting quarterback Tajh Boyd and offensive coordinator Chad Morris, but West Virginia will also have to be wary of standout true freshman receiver Sammy Watkins Dwayne Allen. All three of them have had record-setting seasons, but Clemson’s defense has been inconsistent this year. The Tigers are allowing 26.15 points per game, and will face an offense that is averaging 34.92.
Join us in the comments to follow along during the Orange Bowl.