Point spread: Clemson -3.5
It is a battle of conference champions in this season’s Orange Bowl when the Big East’s West Virginia Mountaineers and the Clemson Tigers, out of the AAC collide in Miami Gardens on Wednesday, Jan. 4. The kick-off for this clash is slated for 8:30 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
West Virginia’s run through the regular season featured a couple of disappointing losses, but a 5-2 straight-up record along with a favorable BCS ranking as a three-way tie-breaker was enough to secure the conference title. The Mountaineers finished 9-3 SU overall and 6-6 against the spread. The total went ‘over’ in eight of their 12 games this season.
One thing that did remain consistent for most of the season was a West Virginia passing game that ended-up ranked seventh in the nation in total yards per game. Geno Smith led the way with 3,978 passing yards and 25 touchdowns. Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin combined for 156 receptions for 2,260 yards and 15 TD’s.
Clemson made a legitimate run at the BCS title game with eight-straight victories to start the year, but stumbled down the stretch with three losses in its final four regular season games. The Tigers atoned for the slide with a convincing 38-10 victory over Virginia Tech as seven-point underdogs in the ACC title game. They finished the season 10-3 SU overall and 6-2 SU in conference play. Clemson was 8-5 ATS and the total went 6-7 in its 13 games.
The Tigers also boast a prolific passing game with an average of 284.8 yards per game. Tajh Boyd passed for 3,578 yards and 31 touchdowns while completing just over 60 percent of his attempts. Sammy Watkins was the leading receiver with 77 catches for 1,153 yards and he had a team-high 11 touchdowns, while Andre Ellington did a good job rushing the ball with 1,062 yards on 213 carries.
The Mountaineers are 1-4 ATS in their last five bowl games and 5-13 ATS in their last 18 games against the ACC. The total has gone ‘over’ in eight of their last 11 bowl games.
The Tigers are 1-5 ATS in their last six bowl games and 0-5 ATS in their last five games against the Big East. The total has stayed ‘under’ in six of their last seven bowl games.
With trends such as these, something has to give in this matchup. Stick with the Tigers, as the all-around better team, to come out on top with a victory that covers the 3.5 points.
The Free Orange Bowl Pick: Clemson 35 West Virginia 30
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.