A shadow of its former orange self
Wednesday night’s Orange Bowl was played in front of thousands of
empty seats. Those that did come saw Clemson play its first major bowl
game in 30 years. The Tigers led West Virginia 17-14 at the end of
the first quarter. Then the Mountaineers went crazy wild, scoring 56
points in the final three quarters. Clemson managed just 18.
Looking at just the yardage numbers — the teams were even in rushing
yards, and WVA outgained Clemson by only 400 to 250 yards in the air
— it all is hard to fathom. But the +3 turnover advantage for the
Mountaineers, plus the dismal 2-for-13 on third down for the Tigers
(WVU was an excellent 10-for-16) ended up allowing West Virginia to
have possession 13 more minutes than Clemson. And they made the most
West Virginia scored a touchdown on eight of their first ten
possessions, and none of those possessions lasted more than 02:40. In
and of itself, that statistic of time meant little because none of
Clemson’s 17 possessions took more than three minutes of game clock.
It’s just that WVU did so much more with the ball than did Clemson.
In the end, Baylor’s bowl-record 67 points lasted less than a week.
West Virginia, looking more like an Oregon-East, will surely not have
its record-setting 70 points broken by either team in Monday’s
championship game. More than anything it leaves one to wonder what the
ACC has to do to make itself worthy of being considered an elite
college football conference.
Winning a few BCS bowl games would be a starter. The ACC, with this
year’s losses by Virginia Tech and now Clemson, has a 2-13 record in
BCS bowl games. And when the old Big 8 reformed itself into the Big
XII and moved its bowl ties to the Fiesta, leaving the Orange Bowl to
grab the ACC, it was the beginning of the end of what once was a great
spectacle of college football. The Orange Bowl has become merely a
shadow of its former self.