The 2014 Orange Bowl lived up to its hype, right from the opening drive, and up until the last few minutes. Two of the most high-powered offensive units in the country faced off in Miami on Friday night, where highlights on both sides were plentiful. In the end, Ohio State faced yet another team in the victory formation opposite to them. Despite a solid outing by junior quarterback Braxton Miller and senior running back Carlos Hyde, the Buckeyes fell to the Clemson Tigers to a tune of 40-35.
Tajh Boyd led the Tigers attack all night long as he went 31-40 passing for 378 yards and five touchdowns. Boyd also contributed in the running game, leading all rushers with 127 yards on 20 carries. Sammy Watkins put on a sensational (and record-breaking) performance as well, catching 16 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns, and simply could not be contained despite the best efforts of the defensive secondary for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes had great performances themselves, with a courageous effort from quarterback Braxton Miller (16-24, 234 yards for two touchdowns and also rushing for 35 yards on 18 carries with two touchdowns) and El Guapo attaining one final 100-yard game with 25 carries for 113 yards and a touchdown. Multiple turnovers in the final minutes of the game would doom Ohio State, despite leading 29-20 at one point late in the third quarter.
The game got off to a quick start when Tajh Boyd sprinted right up the gut for a 49-yard score on the game's opening drive. The Buckeyes would respond, however, with a 13 play, seven-minute touchdown drive of their own. It wasn't in the way Ohio State fans might have expected, as the Buckeyes needed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Clemson and a successful fake punt to help set up Braxton Miller on a 33-yard touchdown run.
It wasn't too long after the Buckeyes knotted things up that Sammy Watkins was unleashed, as he flew past true freshman safety Vonn Bell for a 34-yard touchdown pass, who had expected help over the top. Ohio State had trouble getting the offense to move on third down the next drive, which seemed to be a trend for much of the night, and Clemson took over with a 14-7 lead.
Pressure from the Ohio State defense, specifically Joey Bosa and Joshua Perry, would force an intentional grounding penalty on Tajh Boyd in the endzone. The penalty would give the Buckeyes two points on a safety, but on the next possession, Braxton Miller would take a sack on third down to end the drive.
After another stop, Ohio State would start the second quarter with the ball but again couldn't get the ball rolling on the ground or through the air and had to punt the ball. Clemson quickly found Jordan Leggett streaking down the sideline for a 43-yard bomb, setting up what looked like a surefire touchdown. Instead, as Boyd tried to loft a pass from a few yards out, Vonn Bell elevated and snagged an exceptional one-handed interception to stop the drive, and put momentum back on the Buckeyes side.
Despite the turnover, the Clemson defense stuffed Ohio State's ground game and would get the ball back after a three and out by the Buckeyes offense. The Tigers moved quickly following the punt, as Boyd was able to find Sammy Watkins, and then hit Martavis Bryant for 22 more, setting up another red zone opportunity. This time, the Tigers converted, finding Bryant again on a fade. The Tigers would end up missing the extra point putting the score at 20-9, and things not looking so great for Ohio State.
On the ensuing possession, it looked as though Ohio State's offense would stall out once more, putting the game out of reach, but Braxton Miller turned up the intensity, bouncing back after a shaky start. On 3rd and 12, Miller hit Philly Brown for an 18 yard gain and then on the next play, found a wide open Jeff Heuerman for a 57-yard touchdown bomb. Ohio State's extra point was blocked following the touchdown, making it 20-15.
With Joey Bosa limping heavily after a knee injury earlier in the game, he again had to come off the field. Despite the absence, the Buckeyes defense would hold strong and stopped Clemson on 4th and 5, giving another opportunity to Ohio State's offense. Ohio State drove near midfield after a few more solid throws from Braxton Miller, and then found Philly Brown again for a wide open strike to set up a 1st and goal with 17 seconds left. Miller went on to slip between the tackles and waltz into the end zone on a 3 yard run to somehow take the lead at halftime, 22-20.
The third quarter was a back and forth affair, as both teams traded possessions, until Carlos Hyde would find some room to run on 4th and 1, setting up a leaping touchdown by a Hyde on the following play putting Ohio State up 29-20 and what looked like a stepping on the throat by the Buckeyes. Clemson's next possession went according to Ohio State's plan, as the defense was able to contain the Tigers and force a punt.
Everything changed on Clemson's punt after the big stop by Ohio State's defense, as Philly Brown muffed the punt, where the Tigers would recover. A few plays later, one of the most impressive pitch and catches of the game came on a Tajh Boyd-to-Sammy Watkins connection, cutting the Buckeyes' lead to 29-27. Things went from bad to worse, as Ohio State's next drive presented the opportunity for the Buckeyes to answer, but with the offensive line once again experiencing issues, Miller threw an immediately regrettable pass which was intercepted by the Tigers' Jayron Kerse. Clemson immediately got back to business and the shaky OSU defense was immediately on their heels.
A circus catch by Martavis Bryant in the endzone would put Clemson back on top 34-29 at the end of the third quarter. Ohio State wasn't quite ready to call it quits, however, as Carlos Hyde would leak off for a Braxton Miller throwback at the end of the next drive for a Buckeye touchdown and 35-34 lead.
Another game of back-and-forth came between both teams, each struggling to reach the finish line. With a bruised and battered Braxton Miller (who had to come off the field for a failed two-point conversion) at the helm, the Buckeyes continued to fight, but after a late Clemson score that made it 40-35, Miller would take one of his many sacks after poor line protection and fumble the ball away.
The Tigers had possession with less than five minutes to play, but a late CJ Barnett interception on a suspect decision to throw by Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney gave Ohio State one last chance. Despite the interception, Braxton Miller had no more wizardry left in his beat-up body, as he answered the turnover with a couple of sub-par passes, one of which ended up in the hands of Stephone Anthony, the junior linebacker for Clemson. It was unclear whether Anthony had control throughout, but given how close the nature of the play, it was unlikely to be overturned even if reviewed.
The final clock finally read zero as Tajh Boyd took a knee, and Ohio State had ended their year by dropping the last two games on the season. Head coach Urban Meyer lost his first BCS game ever, while Clemson was able to get the BCS monkey off of their back. The final year of the BCS brought crazy upsets all along the board of BCS bowls, with the national championship being played on Monday.