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Discover Orange Bowl 2014 Preview: Clemson Tigers vs. Ohio St. Buckeyes

Two teams that could have been in the national championship game instead head to Miami for the Orange Bowl

Jamie Sabau

Discover Orange Bowl, Friday, 8:30 pm ET, ESPN

Suggested slogan: You'll actually want to watch us this year

The teams: Clemson Tigers vs. Ohio St. Buckeyes

How Clemson got here: Through the air. Clemson's rushing attack was not all that potent this year -- it ranked 60th in the FBS at 172.7 yards a game -- but the passing game was fantastic. The Tigers landed just outside the Top 10 in yardage, passing for 329.3 yards a game, and were No. 8 in passing efficiency, at 162.07. Most of that came from Tajh Boyd, who passed for more than 300 yards in half of the Tigers' games, including 455 yards at Syracuse. Boyd threw more interceptions than touchdowns just twice: against Florida State and at South Carolina, which happened to be the only two games Clemson lost in the regular season. On the other end of many of his passes has been Sammy Watkins, who has 85 catches for 1,237 yards and 10 touchdowns. The rushing defense is mediocre, but the passing defense is solid, and opponents convert just 31.8 percent of their third downs against the Tigers.

How Ohio State got here: By losing to Michigan State. The Buckeyes were locked into the national championship game after Auburn beat Alabama -- as long as they didn't lose to the Spartans. So much for all that. Instead, THE Ohio State University travels to Miami to take on Clemson after tearing through the majority of their schedule. Wisconsin and Michigan were the only teams to come within 10 points of the Buckeyes before the B1G Championship Game, and many of the Ohio State margins of victory were even more lopsided than that. The Buckeyes don't pass that much -- they only average 200.9 yards a game -- but they rank 10th in efficiency, and the running game is powerful, churning out 317.5 yards a game. A lot of that comes from Carlos Hyde, who ran for 1,408 yards on the season. That's the third-best rate in the nation. Ohio State, though, ranks 103rd in passing yardage allowed, and while some of that is undoubtedly due to the leads they rang up, some of it isn't; the Buckeyes are 73rd in passing efficiency defense.

College football fans care because: This is going to be an entertaining game, and every favorite has been upset in the BCS games so far this year.

SEC fans care because: Everyone in the SEC hates at least one of these teams. Some hate both.

Watch this game if...: You are a college football fan.

Bottom line: Clemson looks really good on paper, but has folded against the two best teams it faced. By the same token, Ohio State looks really good on paper, but has folded against the best team it faced. It's a strength-vs.-weakness setup for both offenses, though, which suggests that it will either be a shootout or, following the Year2 theorem of expected shootout, a defensive struggle. Let's go with the former. Ohio State 43, Clemson 38

Line: Ohio State by 3.5