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Buckeyes Fall to Clemson in Discover Orange Bowl

January 4, 2014


Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller writhed on the ground and clutched his right shoulder, a grimace of pain visible through his face mask.

A jarring hit had just caused Miller to lose a fumble, one of four turnovers by the Buckeyes in the final 20 minutes of the Orange Bowl, and they all hurt. Clemson took advantage in a game with four lead changes and won 40-35 Friday night.

The Buckeyes' final turnover was the most costly. They took over at midfield with 1:27 to go trailing by five points, and on second down Miller threw his second interception to seal the defeat.

"It's going to sting for a while, probably a long while because we didn't finish," coach Urban Meyer said. "It was right there."

No. 7 Ohio State (12-2) lost its second game in a row after winning its first 24 games under Meyer. No. 12 Clemson (11-2) achieved back-to-back 11-win seasons for the first time.

"That was a lot of fun, man," Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said.

The Buckeyes totaled 27 first downs and 427 yards, and they had a six-minute edge in time of possession. But they had twice as many turnovers as Clemson, embarrassed by West Virginia 70-33 in the Orange Bowl two years ago.

Miller said he played the last part of the game with a bruised shoulder and "slightly cracked rib," which may have affected his performance.

"He's a fighter," Meyer said. "He fought through it. I asked him and he said, `I'm fine.' He's a warrior."

The Buckeyes rallied from a 20-9 deficit against the high-powered Tigers and scored 20 consecutive points before the flurry of turnovers began when Corey Brown fumbled a punt return to set up a Clemson touchdown.

"We lost momentum after that one play," Miller said. "It's kind of hard to bounce back from stuff like that."

On the next series, Miller threw his first interception, and Clemson had to drive only 38 yards to score and lead 34-29.

The Buckeyes regained the lead when Miller led a 75-yard drive and capped it with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Carlos Hyde. Miller was shaken up when he was hit on the final play of the drive and came out of the game for the two-point conversion, which was unsuccessful.

After Clemson mounted a 75-yard touchdown drive and took the lead for good with 6 minutes left, Ohio State had two chances to rally. Miller fumbled when sacked and was again shaken up, but the Buckeyes got the ball back on an interception by C.J. Barnett.

On second down, Miller threw an ill-advised pass over the middle directly to linebacker Stephone Anthony, sealing the defeat. The intended receiver, Brown, was more than 10 yards farther downfield.

"The guy made a great play on it," Miller said. "I saw him at the last second."

Such mistakes were uncharacteristic of Miller and the Buckeyes. He threw only five interceptions during the regular season, and Ohio State had only 15 turnovers.

The loss was the first for Meyer in five BCS games, but his second defeat in a row after the Buckeyes were beaten by Michigan State in the Big Ten title game.

Porous pass defense - a season-long problem - hurt the Buckeyes. Clemson's Tajh Boyd threw for 378 yards and five touchdowns, and ran for 127 yards and one score. Sammy Watkins had 16 catches for 227 yards and two touchdowns.

Ohio State allowed 115 points in the season's final three games.

"We're not a championship-caliber defense right now," Meyer said.

The Buckeyes gave up 576 yards and 24 first downs, but managed to keep up with Clemson most of the night. Miller went 16 for 24 for 234 yards, Brown caught eight passes for 116 yards, and Hyde ran for 113 yards.

Swinney said turnovers were the difference.

"We talk about it all the time," the Clemson coach said. "When we win the turnover margin, we win."

Postgame Notes

  • The nine BCS bowl game appearances by Ohio State ties Oklahoma for the most ever in the BCS era (does not include 2010 Sugar Bowl).
  • The 40-35 loss to Clemson drops Ohio State to 5-4 all-time in BCS bowl games.
  • The Buckeyes scored 35 points vs. Clemson and suffered its first all-time loss when hitting that number. Ohio State now is 279-1-1 in games when it scores 35 or more points.  
  • Head coach Urban Meyer now is 4-1 all-time in BCS bowl games and 7-2 in bowl games overall.
  • Coach Meyer is now 26-12 all-time vs. Top 25 teams.
  • Carlos Hyde rushed for 113 yards and 1 TD, his ninth consecutive game with at least 100 yards and the 15th of his career.
  • Hyde finishes his career with 3,198 career yards for sixth behind Keith Byars at No. 5 (3,200 yards from 1982-85).
  • Braxton Miller’s 33-yard TD run in the first quarter was his 39th rush of more than 20 yards in his career and his sixth TD rush of at least 20 yards this season.
  • Braxton Miller had 2+ TDs through the air and added two on the ground, marking the fourth time this season he has had a pair of each scores in the same game. That is the most in FBS this season. In his career, Miller has accounted for 84 total TDs.
  • Miller’s two TDs passing moved him into sole possession of fourth all-time at Ohio State with 52 career scoring strikes. Troy Smith (2002-06) is third with 54.
  • The 49-yard TD run by Tajh Boyd in the first quarter was the longest against Ohio State this season.
  • The 57-yard TD reception by Jeff Heuerman from Miller in the second quarter was his career-long.
  • With eight receptions, Corey “Philly” Brown moved into fifth place on Ohio State’s all-time receptions list, passing Santonio Holmes (140 from 2003-05). Brown finishes his career with 145 receptions.
  • Joshua Perry set a career-best with 10 tackles and seven solo stops. He added a sack as well.
  • Ryan Shazier finished the game with nine tackles – seven solo – upping to his season total to 143.
  • Vonn Bell recorded his first career INT in the second quarter inside Ohio State’s 5-yard line.
  • Jamal Marcus recorded a career-high six tackles in his first career start at DE.
  • Joey Bosa finished the game with 1.0 TFL, giving him 9.5 TFL in the last six games.
  • Cameron Johnston pinned Clemson inside the 20 three times.
  • Ohio State now is 39-22 all-time in night games (games starting 5 p.m. local time or after).
  • Friday was just the second appearance for Ohio State at the Orange Bowl. The previous was in 1977 vs Colorado.

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