Fans debate: West Virginia vs. Clemson
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CooperWVU graduated from West Virginia. I graduated from Clemson. Neither of us has ever played a down of football in our lives, but - trust me - we know our stuff. Here, 10 questions were presented to each of us. Who will win the Discover Orange Bowl? Read on to find out.....
Question 1: Why will West Virginia win?
CooperWVU: Because WVU will have more points at the end of the game. I see this game (on paper) as two teams with high-powered offenses capable of scoring points and putting up a lot of yards/stats. WVU has some special teams players (Tavon Austin) that can give us good field position (I believe he's top 10 in the country in kickoff returns and has 2 kickoffs returned for TDs this year), and Clemson's always had those type of players/good special teams. So, we both have potent offenses and weapons on special teams, but our defenses can be suspect at times. WVU gives up a lot of yards through the air, and with a WR like Sammy Watkins, I can see him having a big day against our secondary. At the end of the game, we may not have the greater totals as far as passing yards or total offense, but that won't matter if the point totals on the WVU side are greater than those on the Clemson side. We'll take the win.
The Top Fan: The Clemson defense has been horrid at times this season (see NC State and South Carolina games). The Tigers have good, young players. But at times, the scheme is questionable. With the Mountaineers having several guys on offense that can get it done, I think that some serious scoring is about to take place. WVU is 20th nationwide in points for. Clemson will score on the 'Neer defense, but I am worried WVU will put up a proud number on us, as well. In the end, I think it will be a high-scoring toss up type of game, and over the last few decades, CU has had trouble with that.
Question 2: Why will Clemson win?
CooperWVU: Because WVU will turn the ball over and their special teams will fall apart. In the WVU/LSU game, Gino Smith threw for over 400 yards against the mighty LSU defense. But we turned the ball over 4 times and let them score on a kickoff return just when the mojo was starting to turn in our favor (ie, only down 7). We can't do that against Clemson because their offense will take advantage of those mistakes and turn them into points. I'm not saying that Clemson can't beat WVU based on their offense alone, but if we lose, there's a good chance that we will have helped them out by shooting our own selves in the foot...with our own musket. Ouch.
The Top Fan: Clemson - when we are clicking - can beat most any team in the country. The problem is, we are young and it is hard to get 22 players to be at their A-game each and every week. In this game, though, I think we will be ready. We know the national spotlight will be on us, and our best effort should come forth.
Question 3: Which team is better dressed?
CooperWVU: WVU because there will be WAY too much orange. Clemson...in the ORANGE Bowl? C'mon. Actually, if Clemson wore all orange with all the other orange decorations/accoutrements/fruit in the stadium, there might be some damage to our retinas. Either that or Vitamin C toxicity.
The Top Fan: I want to state that I have a little Mountaineer blood in me, so I like 'em both. Plus, blue and gold go well together. But CU in all-white on the road, or all-orange at home, is just damn fine. People love to hate on it. But be jealous. I don't care. Who else in college football looks like us in all-orange? Nobody.
Question 4: What player on your team scares them?
CooperWVU: I would say Gino Smith, but Clemson has a Gino Smith in Tajh Boyd. So, they know what they're up against. I'll go with Tavon Austin. He's played wide out, running back, slot receiver, and kickoff/punt returner. I think he's driven the team bus, too. He's a threat from many angles, so it's hard to prepare for that type of player who can do a lot of things. Plus, he's small and fast, and behind our well-fed offensive line, you can't see him. He might be 30 yards downfield by the time the Clemson LBs find out where he is.
The Top Fan: Obviously, first thoughts are to go with Sammy Watkins. But I am going to go with Andre Branch on the defensive line instead. He wrecked VT in both games and will be playing in his final game as a Tiger. He has an attitude when he is between the white lines. He could be the guy to slow down the WVU offense - even if just a little bit.
Question 5: What player on their team scares you?
CooperWVU: Sammy. He's a beast. The roster says he's only 6'1", but he looks much taller. Maybe it's his reach and build, but I think he'll tower over our d-backs to where Tajh could potentially just loft the ball down the field and it'll be a jump-ball situation in the endzone. Advantage Sammy. And with his speed, he could very well torch our secondary and be 4 or 5 steps beyond them on any given throw.
The Top Fan: Well, I will go with the entire WVU offense. Consider this as a bad answer, but WVU knows how to spread it around. Geno Smith is a threat and Holgorsen is a creative offesive mind at head coach. Mountaineer offense as a whole. Final answer.
Question 6: Thoughts on Holgorsen:
CooperWVU: First...cut the hair. Second...we got exactly what we paid for. We wanted excitement and better offense, and we went from 65th in the country last year in total offense to I think 20th (or so). Plus, we won (ok...backed into) the Big East Championship this year with him as a first-year coach. Seriously, from last year around this time when he was originally hired as offensive coordinator and then got drunk and tossed out of a casino in Nitro during the spring, WV to having his then head coach (Stewart) get fired after trying to dig up some dirt on him...I don't think anyone expeced the Orange Bowl. He handled all the off-the-field and on-the-field distractions pretty well. I'll bet he and Huggs (Bob Huggins) are drinking buddies.
The Top Fan: I think he is a trip. He kind of reminds me of Chevy Chase in a good 1980's movie. The fact that he can light up scoreboards makes it even better. He is a character, and that is fun to watch.
Question 7: Thoughts on Dabo:
CooperWVU: Keep him for the long term. I have a lot of friends who are Clemson fans, and I've suffered with them through their Tommy Bowden years. Dabo is young, energetic, exciting, and isn't a 55-year-old, white, overweight, male. I remember recently when Clemson had a couple down years, people were quick to want to get rid of him. "Success doesn't happen overnight," I would pontificate. Then, my Clemsonites would scoff and punch me in the face. But now, just a few years later, Clemson's got a great record and a great team, and now I have to listen to them go on and on about how great they are and what a great coach he is. Now, I want to punch them in the face. IN DE FACE!! So, keep him! Who else are you going to get that's better for the school?
The Top Fan: Well, I like Dabo a lot. I kind of wish he wouldn't talk so much sometimes, but overall, I really like him. He is very young let's not forget (41). He is put in very intense situations over and over and over and he is still learning how to react to that. He can recruit as well as anyone in the country. Period. I think if we give him time, he will regularly reach the ACCCG and possibly better. If nothing else at all, he will bring in talent that will keep Clemson games fun to watch.
Question 8: Do you wish WVU were in the ACC?
CooperWVU: Yes. No...I mean, maybe. No. Yes, definitely. Wait. Can I get back to you? When someone asks me a question like that as to where WVU should be, my first thought turns to basketball and not football. I LOVE Big East basketball...the style of play, the players, the talent, the coaching. So, for that reason alone, I wish WVU could stay in the Big East, but then our football program would suffer with all of the proposed changes to the Big East landscape (seriously...Boise State in the Big East? Doesn't anyone have a map?) Plus, Big East basketball will be changing when Syracuse and Pitt leave. So, it won't be the same. I think logically and geographically, the ACC is probably the better fit for WVU for basketball and football. Either that or the SEC, of course, because it's the SEC. Big 12? I wasn't expecting that. Plus, we don't know if/when we're leaving. I think the whole issue of conference alignment/re-alignment is a huge mess right now.
The Top Fan: Yes. A resounding, dominant, over-the-top YES. But I guess it won't happen. The ACC confirmed with the addition of Pitt and Syracuse that it is basketball focused. And while WVU is one of the better basketball schools in the nation, I still feel the 'Neers are a football school at heart. WVU would have given the league another true football school, and Clemson, FSU, VT and GT could use some help in that department....
Question 9: Is this a huge game for both teams?
CooperWVU: Of course. It's the Orange Bowl. Maybe more so for WVU because I think we're trying to prove that we earned a BCS bid. Clemson doesn't have that pressure because they won the ACC outright and they were a legit team in the polls for most of the year. But that doesn't mean Clemson doesn't care about winning. This would be a great way to top off a very good year of football for the Tigers.
The Top Fan: Of course it is! It will be on national TV and is a BCS game. Recruits will be watching. But most importantly, both teams will want an ORANGE BOWL CHAMPIONS trophy to put in the locker room back home. Both of these programs aspire to play for it all, and (usually) you have to be a BCS regular before you are a national title contender.
Question 10: Final Prediction:
CooperWVU: Prediction? Pain... (Rocky III reference - Clubber Lang...anyone? anyone? Bueller?). Seriously? WVU 45 - Clemson 41. With these two offenses, this might be close to a basketball score. But in the end, it'll be the team with the most points on the board. And hopefully, that will be WVU. Go Mountaineers!!
The Top Fan: I will go with 45-41, Clemson. Yea, I saw Cooper's prediction just before I made mine. But I feel the same as he does. It will be a shootout until the end, and if either of us picked against our alma mater I would be very disappointed! Go Tigers!
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