By The Associated Press
For The Register-Herald
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. —
The Orange Bowl is the perfect bowl game to play.
At least that is the opinion of Dabo Swinney, coach of No. 15 Clemson, and No. 23 West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. One of the bigger bonuses of leading their teams into the 78th Orange Bowl on Jan. 4:
Both schools heavily recruit players from the state of Florida.
“To know that our guys have the opportunity to play in the Orange Bowl; the exposure that you get, the marketing that you get, all throughout the state your brand is promoted and you can’t put a price on that,” Swinney said at an Orange Bowl press conference Wednesday.
West Virginia (9-3, 5-2 Big East) will head to its first Orange Bowl with a team that boasts a large contingent of players from South Florida. Of the 20 Mountaineers from the state, 16 grew up in the local community.
“I’m really excited about bringing a whole bunch of blue and gold to South Florida,” Holgorsen said.
“Our guys are excited about coming home.”
Clemson (10-3, 6-2 ACC) is making its fourth appearance in the Orange Bowl, but hasn’t played here since 1982. That’s the year Clemson capped off a 12-0 season by winning their only national championship with a 22-15 victory over Nebraska.
“It’s been 30 years since Clemson has been in the Orange Bowl,” Swinney said. “This is the site of our programs’ greatest moment and we’ve been wandering in the desert for a long time since.”
Clemson and West Virginia have two of the most explosive offenses in the country this season.
The Tigers earned their Orange Bowl berth with a 38-10 blitz of then-No. 5 Virginia Tech to capture its first ACC title in 20 years. Clemson ranks 13th in pass offense, 29th in total offense and 27th in scoring offense in the nation this season.
The Mountaineers were in a three-way tie with Cincinnati and Louisville, but clinched the Big East by having the highest ranking in the BCS of the three schools. They are ranked 7th in pass offensive, 18th in total offense and 19th in scoring offense.
Both school’s boast dynamic quarterbacks — junior Geno Smith for West Virginia and sophomore Tajh Boyd for Clemson. This season, Smith completed 314 of 483 passes for 3,978 yards and 25 touchdowns; Boyd completed 254 of 424 passes for 3,338 yards and 28 touchdowns.
“They’re two tremendous quarterbacks who both have the ability to keep a play alive,” Swinney said. “They’re just going to continue to get better because they’re still relatively young.”