Tigers rally past Buckeyes

MIAMI GARDENS — Tajh Boyd threw for 378 yards and five touchdowns, Sammy Watkins had a record-setting night with 16 catches for 227 yards, and No. 12 Clemson rallied to beat No. 7 Ohio State 40-35 in the Orange Bowl on Friday night.

Boyd's 5-yard pass to Stanton Seckinger with 6:16 remaining put the Tigers (11-2) ahead to stay. Watkins caught two touchdown passes in setting Orange Bowl records for receptions and receiving yards and becoming Clemson's career receptions leader.

Martavis Bryant also caught two touchdown passes for the Tigers, who won their first Orange Bowl in 32 years.

Braxton Miller threw for 234 yards and Carlos Hyde ran for 113 for Ohio State (12-2), which led 29-20 in the second half but wound up losing its second straight game after having won each of its previous 24 under coach Urban Meyer, whose record in Bowl Championship Series games fell to 4-1. Corey Brown had 116 yards receiving for the Buckeyes.

Miller was intercepted twice in the final 3:12, dooming the Buckeyes. After the first, Boyd threw an interception to give Ohio State the ball back, but Miller was picked again — Stephone Anthony made the play for the Tigers — and Clemson ran out the clock.

The Buckeyes had a 29-20 lead in the third quarter after Hyde picked up 31 yards on fourth and inches and then went airborne to break the plane of the goal line on the next play.

Then the mistakes started coming in bunches for Ohio State. A fumbled punt return and an interception led to touchdown grabs by Watkins and Bryant, putting the Tigers up entering the fourth.

Hyde caught a 14-yard scoring pass from Miller with 11:35 left, giving the Buckeyes a one-point lead, but Clemson and Boyd went on one last scoring march to give the Tigers the BCS win they've been seeking for years.

When Clemson played in the Orange Bowl two years ago, the Tigers gave up 21 points in the final 2:29 of the first half, letting a close game get blown wide open on the way to a 70-33 loss to West Virginia.

End-of-half mistakes cost Clemson again.

Boyd's 3-yard touchdown pass to Bryant had Ohio State facing a 20-9 deficit, but two scores in a 31/2 minutes gave the Buckeyes a 22-20 halftime lead. Clemson left Jeff Heuerman wide open down the middle for a 57-yard touchdown pass from Miller, making it a one-score game. And on a drive aided by a 15-yard penalty against Clemson's Darius Robinson, Miller ran in from 3 yards with 12 seconds left to give the Buckeyes their first lead.

And Ohio State had to feel fortunate.

Boyd went 48 yards untouched — his longest career run — for a touchdown that opened the scoring. The Buckeyes tied it on the ensuing drive, catching a break when a third-down sack by Vic Beasley that would have forced a punt was rendered moot by his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Heuerman pulled off a fake punt later in the drive, and Miller eventually rumbled 33 yards to tie the game.

Boyd found Watkins for a 34-yard score to put Clemson back on top.

Tigers rally past Buckeyes 01/04/14 [Last modified: Saturday, January 4, 2014 12:54am]

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