Better bring your popcorn

Clemson and West Virginia will enter next month's Orange Bowl with plenty of fire power.

Clemson erased its late-season problems in a big way in the ACC Championship game last Saturday, blitzing Virginia Tech 38-10 to win its first ACC title in 20 years. The victory pushed Clemson into the Orange Bowl, where the Tigers will be making their first appearance since their national championship in 1981.

Clemson (10-3) will face Big East Conference co-champion West Virginia (9-3), a team that Clemson has faced just once before when it claimed a 27-7 win in the 1989 Gator Bowl.

Like Clemson, West Virginia features a prolific offense.

"We anticipate an exciting, high-scoring game," Orange Bowl CEO Eric Poms said.

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith have combined for more than 7,500 yards passing and 56 touchdowns this season. Boyd is 18th in total offense nationally while Smith is ninth.

Both teams average at least 33 points per game and over 440 yards per game and two of the top four all-purpose players in the country will be on display. The Mountaineers' Tavon Austin averages 191.2 yards per game to rank second nationally while Clemson's Sammy Watkins is fourth with 173 yards per game.

"I'll be surprised if there's not some points scored in this one," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "You've got two very capable offenses, obviously. I don't think it'll be a 6-3 ballgame like some of the others around. This should be very exciting. But just when you expect one thing, sometimes the other happens."


Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith have combined for more than 7,500 yards passing and 56 touchdowns this season. (Getty Images)
This much is certain -- Clemson is riding high again after posting its most complete performance under Swinney. The Tigers' up-tempo no-huddle offense returned to form against Virginia Tech, scoring quickly and efficiently, including three touchdowns in a 4:24 span in the third quarter to turn the ACC title game into a rout.

Now Swinney is eager to ready his young team for just the second BCS-level bowl in school history.

"We'll just have to concentrate on having to get a plan down, prepare for our opponent, formulate a plan to win," Swinney said. "Everybody will have to be accountable and take care of the football, which is something you never know about, especially after a month off."

Swinney took a big step toward a more relaxing holiday when offensive coordinator Chad Morris agreed to a new contract the day after Clemson's ACC title win.

"This is where we want to be," Morris said. "This is a place where people are passionate about football."

Morris, whose name had surfaced as a possible coordinator for new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, among other jobs, had a big impact in his first season at Clemson, guiding the Tigers to school records in passing yardage, total yardage and scoring offense. Clemson improved its total offense by more than 100 yards per game over last season, jumping from 88th in the nation to 29th.

While keeping Morris -- who's just two years removed from coaching high school football in Texas -- is another coup for Clemson, Morris also was reluctant to leave a program that is stocked with talent.

"I am excited about the future of this program," Morris said. "We have outstanding young players on this offense this year and I know we have some outstanding student-athletes who will be joining the program next year. We have a bright future and we feel we will continue to be one of the most explosive offenses in the nation."

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