Sammy Watkins and Clemson face Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. (Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports)
We’re finally here. It’s the final day of 2013, and the Atlantic Coast Conference is just a bit over halfway through with their bowl slate. The conference is 3-3 over its first six bowl games, and a number of intriguing games still await us.
Three of the four remaining non-national title games feature matchups between teams who have never before played each other. The fourth game is a rematch of one of the msot storied games in recent college football history. Finally, of course, the conference will play for a national title on January 6th. That game will be covered in a future version of Clear Your Schedule.
We’ll visit Shreveport, El Paso, Atlanta and Miami in our Keyword Search feature, but before we start our trip, here’s our trivia question!
2013 ACC Bowls (Part 1) Trivia (answer at the end of the article): The only time Ohio State and Clemson have ever met on the football field was the final game of Buckeye coach Woody Hayes’ career. Which bowl game featured this matchup, and why did it end Hayes’ career?
AdvoCare V100 Bowl
Boston College (7-5, 4-4 ACC) vs. Arizona (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12)
Tuesday, Dec. 31, 12:30pm ET, ESPN
- Covering ground on the ground: This game is a matchup of two elite rushing offenses. Arizona ranks 11th in rushing offense (265.83 yards per game), while Boston College ranks 20th (218.08 yards per game). BC is led by Heisman finalist Andre Williams (329 carries, 2102 yards, 17 TD). Williams only had three games in which he finished with fewer than 100 yards (USC, Clemson and Syracuse). Williams only had nine carries in the Syracuse contest. Carey (322 carries, 1716 yards, 17 TD) rushed for 119 yards or greater in every game in which he appeared this season. Carey did not play in the season-opener against Northern Arizona.
- Easy sledding: We mentioned the success of both teams on the ground, and there is no reason to believe these teams will go away from the run. Boston College ranks 52nd in rush defense, allowing 152.08 yards per game. Arizona is 72nd, surrendering 169.75 yards per contest. Three of BC’s opponents rushed for fewer than 100 yards (Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and NC State), while only one Wildcat opponent (Northern Arizona) failed to crack the hundred-yard plateau.
- Reversing the trend: BC and Arizona are a combined 1-5 in their last six bowl appearances. Arizona defeated Nevada 49-48 in the 2012 New Mexico Bowl, but lost the 2009 Holiday Bowl and 2010 Alamo Bowl by a combined score of 69-10. BC lost the 2008 Music City Bowl, the 2009 Emerald Bowl and the 2010 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
Hyundai Sun Bowl
Virginia Tech (8-4, 5-3 ACC) vs. #17 UCLA (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12)
Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2pm ET, CBS
- Defensive domination: Virginia Tech’s defense ranks in the top ten in every major category. The Hokies rank eighth in scoring defense (17.4 points per game) and rushing defense (103.8 yards per game). Tech is third in pass defense (165.8 yards per game) and fourth in total defense (296.6 yards per game). No Hokie opponent has scored more than two rushing touchdowns or two passing touchdowns in a game this season. UCLA has scored four or more touchdowns in all but two games this season (at Stanford, at Oregon).
- Feels like the first time: Virginia Tech has never defeated a Pac-12 school. Cal defeated the Hokies 52-49 in the 2003 Insight Bowl, USC notched a regular-season 24-13 victory in 2004 and Stanford beat Tech 40-12 in the 2011 Orange Bowl. UCLA has won 17 of their 31 games against current ACC opponents, with 22 of those coming against Syracuse and Pitt (11-11). The Hokies are making their 21st consecutive bowl appearance, but are just 9-11 during that streak.
- Here comes the Sun: Virginia Tech and UCLA have played in the Sun Bowl a combined four times. Virginia Tech’s only appearance in the game was also their first-ever postseason game, an 18-6 loss to Cincinnati. Three members of that Hokie club were POWs in World War II. UCLA won the 1991 and 2005 Sun Bowls over Illinois and Northwestern, respectively, while losing the 2000 Sun Bowl by a point to Wisconsin.
#24 Duke (10-3, 6-2 ACC) vs. #21 Texas A&M (8-4, 4-4 SEC)
Tuesday, Dec. 31, 8pm ET, ESPN
- An unfamiliar feeling: Duke first fielded a team in 1888 and has played 999 games in school history, but has never participated in back-to-back bowl games. The Blue Devils’ last bowl victory came in the 1961 Cotton Bowl. Duke defeated Arkansas 7-6 in that game. By contrast, the Aggies have appeared in 35 bowl games. This is their fifth consecutive bowl appearance.
- Not getting defensive: Both teams have experienced their share of defensive struggles. Texas A&M ranks 105th in total defense (460.3 yards per game) and 108th in rushing defense (221.3 yards per game). Duke ranks in the 70s in every defensive category except for scoring defense (47th, 24.7 points per game). The Blue Devils surrendered 569 yards of offense in their only game against a ranked opponent, a loss to Florida State. A&M has allowed 540.8 yards per game in four shots against ranked teams.
- Amazin’ Aggies: Texas A&M joins just Baylor and Fresno State in the FBS with top ten rankings in every offensive category. The Aggies had a nine-game streak earlier this season in which they gained 500 yards or greater in each game. Four teams have gone for greater than 500 yards against Duke this season. The Blue Devils won three of those four games, falling only to Florida State in the ACC Championship.
Discover Orange Bowl
#12 Clemson (10-2, 7-1 ACC) vs. #7 Ohio State (12-1, 8-0 Big Ten)
Friday, Jan. 3, 8pm ET, ESPN
- We hardly know you: Clemson has only faced six opponents that are currently in the Big Ten. The Tigers are 4-2 in those games, with victories over Ohio State (1978), Nebraska (1981), Penn State (1987) and Illinois (1990). Ohio State is 9-5 all-time against ACC schools (as of the time the games were played). The Buckeyes have also gone 7-2 against Miami, Boston College, Pittsburgh and Syracuse before their time in the conference.
- Air traffic control: Ohio State ranks 102nd in the nation in pass defense (259.5 yards per game). The Buckeyes surrendered 299.5 yards per game in their only two games against ranked opponents (Wisconsin and Michigan State). Clemson led the conference in passing (12th nationally). That success did not necessarily translate to games against ranked foes, however. The Tigers threw for 232.7 yards per game in three games against Top 25 teams. Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant would become the wide receiver tandem with the largest single-season yardage output with 161 yards in the Orange Bowl. Watkins’ three years in Death Valley have been the three highest combined receiving years in Clemson history.
- Going for a run: Ohio State ranks third in the nation in rushing (317.5 yards per game). This is Clemson’s third game against a current top-twenty rushing offense this season. Georgia Tech (currently fourth) carried 45 times for 248 yards and four touchdowns in November, while BC carried 39 times for 94 yards and a score in October.
Since the BCS is ending, here’s a bonus note!
- Farewell to the BCS: Many fans will likely be just fine with the BCS’ demise. Ohio State, however, may not share that opinion. The Buckeyes share the largest number of BCS appearances (nine) with Oklahoma. OSU has won five of those games, which is also tied for the largest number. USC has won all five of their BCS appearances, while Florida has won five of their seven BCS games.
Trivia answer: I asked earlier: The only time Ohio State and Clemson have ever met on the football field was the final game of Buckeye coach Woody Hayes’ career. Which bowl game featured this matchup, and why did it end Hayes’ career?
The 1978 Gator Bowl ended in a 17-15 Clemson victory. Hayes punched Clemson defensive lineman Charlie Bauman on the Ohio State sideline after he intercepted an Art Schlichter pass. That incident, and the fight that ensued, resulted in Hayes’ firing at Ohio State. This was the final game he coached.
Brian Wilmer is a contributor to FBSchedules.com and Stadium Journey. Follow him @sportsmatters.