If you read the Discover Orange Bowl betting line the way you should, the oddsmakers are expecting fireworks from two of the most entertaining quarterbacks in college football. There was a time when Tajh Boyd and Braxton Miller were in the Heisman mix (view the early favorites for the 2014 Heisman), and while both were left in the dust behind eventual winner Jameis Winston, they’re still as talented and capable as they were at the onset of the season. Since they’re both lining up against porous defensive sets, this game could be one of the most exciting amongst the big five.
The Clemson Tigers started off the year with tons of promise. They outlasted Georgia in their season opener 38-35 and then picked up another five wins to go 6-0 SU at the onset. However, they also went just 3-3 ATS in those games. They made headlines because of Boyd’s unbelievable playmaking, but the handicappers and linemakers knew that this team was a bit of a fraud.
Everything came crashing down when they lost to FSU 14-51 in mid-October. Sure, they picked up a 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS record after the loss against the Seminoles, but they were no longer fixtures in the national title landscape and they didn’t have the schedule to gain any more ground than they already had. The fact that they’re part of the Discover Orange Bowl betting line has more to do with their early season success than it does with how their year ended.
Tajh Boyd threw for 3,473 yards and 29 touchdowns while adding another 273 yards rushing and 9 rushing touchdowns. Don’t let his 2013 ground numbers fool you either; this guy piled up 514 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in 2012 and can hit the ground running anytime he pleases. The problem with hoping for a big Boyd game is that Ohio State ranks 6th against the rush with just 102.6 yards against all season in the rush-first Big Ten.
This is also a major statement game for the Buckeyes, who saw their undefeated streak snapped by Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship with an end score of 24-34. They were favored at -5.5 in that game because the public never appreciated how solid the Spartans actually are, and after losing that game, Ohio State’s hopes of making a national title appearance vanished alongside.
The Buckeyes defense isn’t rock solid by any stretch of the imagination, but Clemson’s is much worse. Braxton Miller also gives OSU an advantage at quarterback. He threw for 1,860 yards and rushed for an additional 1,033 yards against the burly Big Ten defenses while amassing a total of 32 touchdowns. Did I mention that he missed two games as well?
Sometimes there are wrinkles in a game that people don’t focus on, but making a play on the Discover Orange Bowl betting line squarely falls on picking between Boyd and Miller. Clemson and OSU both have slightly suspect defenses that should allow both quarterbacks to have career days. If there’s one crease in this matchup, it’s Urban Meyer, a coach that has done it all at the college level and continues to succeed wherever he goes. Meyer will figure out a way to maximize Miller’s talents and limit Boyd’s production as Ohio State ends their year on a high note as slim favorites.