By Manny Navarro
The Miami Herald
Distributed by MCT
This year’s Discover Orange Bowl was sold as an offensive showcase featuring two of the best quarterbacks in college football.
The goods were delivered — and then some.
Clemson's Tajh Boyd threw for 378 yards, five touchdowns and ran 127 yards and another score. Ohio State's Braxton Miller accounted for 269 total yards and four scores.
In the end, it was Clemson linebacker and leading tackler Stephone Anthony who got the last word, picking off Miller with 1:18 to play and sealing the Tigers' 40-35 victory in front of 72,080 at Sun Life Stadium on Friday night.
The victory notched back-to-back 11-win seasons for Clemson (11-2) for the first time in school history and scored a big win for the Atlantic Coast Conference, which improved to 4-12 all-time in BCS bowl games.
Florida State (13-0) will have a chance to improve that record when it takes on Auburn (12-1) for the national championship Monday in Pasadena, Calif.
Ohio State, making its record ninth BCS bowl appearance and first since 2010, dropped its second game in a row and fell to 12-2 after beginning the Urban Meyer era 24-0.
It was a bitter end to the season for the Buckeyes.
A month ago they were in position to play Florida State before they lost to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game. Michigan State went on to win the Rose Bowl.
Miller turned it over three times and all of them were costly.
But it was Corey Brown’s fumble on a punt return which hurt the most.
Leading 29-20, Ohio State had all the momentum before Brown muffed the punt and Clemson’s Robert Smith pounced on it at the Buckeyes 33 with 3:35 left in the third quarter.
Star receiver Sammy Watkins cashed it in for Clemson three plays and 49 seconds later when he leaped over a defender in the end zone to haul in a 30-yard touchdown catch, his second of the night. The score trimmed Ohio State's lead to 29-27.
Watkins, a Fort Myers native considered the top draft-eligible receiver in the country, set an Orange Bowl record for catches (16) and yards (227).
Moments later, Miller made his first mistake of the night when his third down pass was picked off by freshman safety Jayron Kearse as he was falling out of bounds at the Buckeyes’ 38.
Three plays later, receiver Martavis Bryant fought off a pass interference penalty and made a spectacular 3-yard touchdown catch on a deflected ball in the corner of the end zone to put Clemson back in front 34-29 with 32 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Buckeyes responded and took a 35-34 lead when Miller connected with running back Carlos Hyde on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 11:35 to play.
But Boyd answered.
He led the Tigers on a 13-play, 75-yard scoring drive and cashed in with a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Stanton Steckinger with 6:16 remaining.
Boyd finished 31 of 40 passing for 378 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions.
It was Boyd’s 18th career 300-yard game, tying him with Phillip Rivers of N.C. State for the ACC record.
At kickoff, it was 62 degrees inside Sun Life Stadium, much warmer than in Clemson, S.C. (32) and Columbus, Ohio (10).
The Tigers looked right at home, marching 75 yards in six plays to take a quick 7-0 lead on Boyd’s career-long 48-yard touchdown run.
Clemson led 20-9 midway through the second quarter before Miller engineered two scoring drives and the Buckeyes took a 22-20 lead into the half.
(c)2014 The Miami Herald
Visit The Miami Herald at www.miamiherald.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services