Like father, like son

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Thirty years ago, Gary Walker was part of the first and only national championship football team at Clemson.

Walker and the Tigers clinched the national title with a 22-15 win over Nebraska.

His son, Landon, the starting right tackle for the Tigers, is looking to end his collegiate career with an Orange Bowl win.

"It doesn't have the same national championship implications, but at the same time, this is a big game," the younger Walker said. "A BCS game is obviously a huge deal. To be able to represent Clemson and do the same thing my dad did 30 years ago, it's an honor. A lot of people couldn't imagine."

Landon is one of several members of this year's team whose father played for the Tigers.

"It's special with my dad. It means a lot more to me than just being in Miami and enjoying the experience," Walker said. "The game is going to be a very emotional game for me…what a shame it would be to go out losing this game when we should be going out winning."

CONFIDENCE LEVELS ARE HIGH: The 8-0 start that was followed by a 2-3 finish had many on the outside looking in wondering if Clemson was for real. Some of that doubt was erased with the 38-10 win over Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship.

Andre Ellington, the Tigers' leading rusher, said their confidence improved with that second win over the Hokies.

"It motivated us more than anything, just hearing all those doubters," he said. "It kind of related us to earlier in the season when a lot of people doubted us and we started on that 8-0 start. Once we started going, a lot of people got on the bandwagon.

"We lost those few games and they all started saying they're not what we thought they were going to be. Just proving them wrong was pretty big for us."

TOUGH TASK AHEAD: Despite West Virginia's personnel losses at running back, the Clemson defense has a tough task ahead with the Mountaineers' vaunted passing attack.

Led by quarterback Geno Smith with wide receivers Tavon Austin and Steadman Bailey, West Virginia ranks No. 7 in the country in passing offense with 341.8 yards per game.

"They're probably [among] the top-three offenses we've played this year," said Corico Hawkins, who leads Clemson with 91 tackles. "We're going to have our hands full. We've got to do a good job of tackling in space, communicating and handling the tempo." Top Stories