MIAMI — Ohio State's Urban Meyer has never had any issue acclimating to the biggest stages in college football. Clemson's Dabo Swinney is sounding like someone who's getting comfortable under the brightest lights as well.
Meyer has coached in four previous BCS games, and never lost. Swinney has taken his team to the BCS one other time, and lost by 37 points.
Of course, tonight, none of that will matter when the Buckeyes and Tigers tangle in the Orange Bowl, where Meyer will aim to keep his BCS record perfect and Swinney will try to have his team "continue to climb the mountain."
"When you have an opportunity to come to a BCS ball game and lose it, you want to get back and have another opportunity," Swinney said Thursday. "There's only six teams, I think, in the country that have been in two BCS bowls the last three years, and we're one of them. So it's a great opportunity for us to have a chance to win one."
Meyer would say the same thing. His team had visions of playing in Pasadena, Calif., for the BCS national title Monday, but the loss in the Big Ten title game, the first under Meyer in 25 games since he took over at Ohio State, knocked the Buckeyes out of the title picture.
So instead, Ohio State headed to South Florida, where Meyer will look to add the Orange Bowl to his BCS collection that already includes two title-game wins and a Sugar Bowl victory while at Florida, and a Fiesta Bowl triumph when he coached Utah.
"It's a chance to go compete," Meyer said. "Whether it's checkers or pingpong, we're going to try to win the game. Our job every time we keep score is to win. It's the mentality we try to create within our program."
Clemson lost the Orange Bowl two years ago to West Virginia, 70-33 — the game turning when the Tigers fumbled in the second quarter, on a play where they would have taken the lead. Instead, the floodgates opened.
The Tigers are 21-4 since.
"This team has more than responded," Swinney said.