On Friday Night, The Ohio State Buckeyes will square off against the Clemson Tigers in the Orange Bowl. This looks like one of the most entertaining bowl games of the season. SB Nation has it ranked as the second best bowl game, behind only the National Championship. This game will depend heavily on how motivated the teams are. They are both coming off season-ending losses and it wouldn’t be shocking if either school comes out flat.
Ohio State’s last outing resulted in a crushing loss to Michigan State, the first in the Urban Meyer era. Clemson lost to South Carolina, their arch rival for the 5th straight year. Both teams would love to end the season on a positive note and head into the off-season with a bit of momentum as well as a slight boost in the eyes of potential recruits.
Ohio State clearly has the greater chance of coming out flat. It isn’t unusual for teams that blew a chance at a championship game appearance on the last week of the season to come out sluggish in their bowl game. It will be interesting to see how Urban is able to respond and motivate the team after his first loss at the helm. The team’s arrival into Miami certainly has not brought good news. Noah Spence didn’t make the trip due to personal issues, several of the players have come down with the flu and/or food poisoning, and Meyer has called out Braxton Miller’s passing in the last two games.
Any of these factors on their own would be mildly concerning, put all three together and it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see Ohio State lay an egg in the Orange Bowl. It would truly be a shame if Urban Meyer is unable to get the guys up for this game. Should Ohio State win, they’ll be the only school to have won all four BCS bowls (Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange – “BCS Cycle”) during the BCS era (Oklahoma could also hit the BCS Cycle by beating Alabama, but let’s be real…).
The motivational issues alone should cause Buckeyes fans to brace for an unpleasant Friday Night. Add the motivational issues to the match up problems Clemson’s offense creates for a regressing Ohio State defense (match up post coming later in the week) and there is a legitimate chance that Meyer will cap his 24-0 start with an 0-2 streak, remaining winless in the postseason at Ohio State. It will be up to the veteran players: Shazier, the senior-laden offensive line, Miller, and Hyde to make sure the Buckeyes come in with the mindset to finish the season with a marquee victory.