Orange Bowl Final Thoughts: Oklahoma-Clemson

    Final thoughts and musings before Oklahoma and Clemson play in the 201m5 Orange Bowl

    December 31, 2015

    Oklahoma or Clemson? Who’s going to win the 2015 Orange Bowl? Thoughts and musings about what’s about to go down.

    2015 Orange Bowl: Final Thoughts Before Oklahoma vs. Clemson

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    – It’s been really, really hot here in Miami – and awesome. Temperature around gametime will be around the mid-80s and humid.

    – I could pretend that I have a thought on who that helps, but I’d be doing you and America a grave disservice. Both teams will probably cramp like Chaz Osborne. I know I will.

    – I know the rest of the United States is under water, or snow, or some disastrous conditions, and I know all the flights are totally messed up, but if I’m being brutally honest, all that stuff might as well be happening on Mars. I’ll be back in the real world soon enough – being here doesn’t suck.

    – I’m not ready yet – the College Football Playoff just sort of snuck up on me. It feels like it’s 11:59 pm on Christmas Eve and I’m at a Kum & Go looking for presents.

    – I have a handle on the Cotton Bowl, but even after being in here for a week I still have no real clue what’s going to happen in the Orange.

    – Then again, I was in Los Angeles last year for the Rose Bowl and thought Florida State was going to roll past Oregon.

    – So here’s what I’ve learned about Clemson over the last few days. 1) It has a chip on its shoulder because it feels disrespected. 2) The suspensions aren’t a big deal. 3) The team says the 40-6 win over Oklahoma in the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl doesn’t matter, but you can tell that it’s in the mindset.

    – So here’s what I’ve learned about Oklahoma over the last few days. 1) It has a chip on its shoulder because it feels disrespected. 2) No one really knows or cares who was suspended on Clemson. 3) The team says the 40-6 loss to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl doesn’t matter, and Sooner types get really, really mad at the suggestion that the team didn’t show up/quit/didn’t care.

    – Oklahoma either didn’t show up, quit, didn’t care in your 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl. It was too talented to not play better.

    – Oklahoma will show up and will care about your 2015 Capital One Orange Bowl.

    – I’m not saying last year’s team quit against Clemson. I’m not saying the 2012 team quit in the 41-13 loss to Texas A&M in the 2013 Cotton Bowl. I’m not saying the 2004 team quit in the 55-19 loss to USC in the 2005 Orange Bowl. But those teams were much, much, much better than the respective final scores. Something went horribly wrong in all three games

    – This Clemson team isn’t good enough to blowout this Oklahoma team. If Clemson wins going away, there’s a problem.

    – One other thing I’ve learned this week: Everyone around Oklahoma loves Baker Mayfield. Other teams and coaches don’t exactly feel the same way.

    – That’s my biggest X factor. At the end of the day, Baker Mayfield is a walk-on. Deshaun Watson isn’t.

    – Help me out here, because the Campus Insiders guys – and Bonnie Bernstein – and I couldn’t come up with one. Name a walk-on who went on to be drafted by an NFL team as a quarterback.

    – As long as Clemson keeps Baker Mayfield from being Baker Manziel, it should be okay. That’s not going to happen, though. This is going to be a shootout of epic proportions.

    – Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables as a key factor considering his 12 seasons at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops? Can’t hurt, could really, really help.

    – Here’s my biggest Clemson issue at the moment. All year long Clemson fans have been yelling at me for disrespecting the Tiger schedule – because it sucks.

    The win over Notre Dame was nice, but it wasn’t as terrific as the CFP people gave it credit for. Miami – lost to Washington State in the Sun Bowl. NC State – lit up like a Christmas tree by Dak Prescott and Mississippi State in the Belk. North Carolina – absolutely housed by Baylor’s running game at an all-timer of a level in the Russell Athletic.

    Beating Florida State at home was good, and Louisville did a nice job against a quarterbackless Texas A&M in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City, but the ACC just wasn’t very good. That doesn’t mean Clemson isn’t really good and played in a mediocre league, but much like Florida State being the only unbeaten team left standing last year, that might be Clemson this time around because of the league it played in.

    – Then again, the 1981 Clemson Tigers started out the season with Wofford, just like this year’s team, and also played a two-game schedule before beating Nebraska in the Orange Bowl to win the national title. That team beat just four teams that finished with winning records before getting by the Huskers. However, the two big wins were killers. 1981 Georgia was a whole bunch better than 2015 Notre Dame, comparative to eras, and 1981 North Carolina was better than 2015 North Carolina.

    – But 2015 Oklahoma is a whole lot better than 1981 Nebraska.

    – No matter what happens, Bob Stoops is still an unquestionable legendary head coach. He’s still Big Game Bob even if Clemson wins big.

    – No matter what happens, Dabo Swinney is still one of the elite coaches in college football. A loss doesn’t less what he did reloading his Tiger team this year.

    – I’m not asking for much, Clemson and Oklahoma. Either this needs to be a terrific game with lots of offense and both teams playing up to their full capabilities, or this needs to be an epic blowout at halftime so I can quickly pivot to the National Championship being played in Arlington.

    – Oklahoma wins. On the confidence scale, if 10 is my “I KNOW this one … I GOT it” call of Ohio State over Oregon in the 2015 College Football National Championship, and a 1 is my pick of the lemon tart over the cheesecake at the hotel bar, I’m about a 3.5. I’ll only be shocked if Oklahoma wins in a blowout.


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