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January 4, 2012

College Football Report - 2011 Bowl Picks - Discover Orange Bowl:

Discover Orange Bowl

Clemson (10-3) vs. West Virginia (9-3)

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8:30 PM, ESPN, Wednesday, Jan. 4, Miami, FL

Why Watch: The ACC and Big East champs, the Tigers reeled in eight straight wins to begin the season, but have won just two in their last five. Both offenses can put up some points. The tigers have gone over 30 points on the season in eight games. The Mountaineers, led by former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, were one of two teams to score over 20 points on the No. 1 LSU Tigers defense.

Who to Watch: With the offensive mind of Holgorsen and behind the arm of quarterback Geno Smith, the strength of the Mountaineers this season was the passing game, which ranked No. 7 in the country. Their specialty on defense this season, not surprisingly, was rushing the passer. Senior defensive end Bruce Irvin led the Mountaineers in sacks for the second straight season. A junior college transfer, Irvin, who brought in 7.5 sacks this year, has 21.5 sacks in two years at West Virginia. The Tigers were known as a big-play offense this season, mostly for one reason; they have wideout Sammy Watkins. Just a true freshman, Watkins led the Tigers in receptions (77), yards (1,153) and touchdown receptions (11). He also led the team in all-purpose yards per game with 173.1 yards.

How it’s Going Down: Essentially a trip home for the Mountaineers, who have 20 players from the Sunshine state, including Smith and four other key starters from Miramar High just down the road. Neither the Mountaineers, nor Tigers, play a whole lot of defense, with each giving up over 26 points a game. The good part is that they both score over 30 a game. Without a quality win outside the Big East, and just a 5-2 conference record, some question whether or not the Mountaineers should even be playing in a BCS Bowl. Led by the big arm of Geno Smith, though, the Mountaineers can score with anyone. With a shaky ending to the season on their resume, and first ever BCS trip, the Tigers head into the game with far more questions. It’ll be a game of keeping up with the other offense, where the Mountaineers will come out on top. Pick: West Virginia 42 – Clemson 35

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