Orange Crushed: Clemson bowled over by West Virginia

Clemson went to Miami hoping to mark a return to the glory days of its football program.

The Tigers went home realizing just how far they still have to go.

Appearing in their first BCS bowl and their first Orange Bowl since clinching the 1981 national title, the Tigers were crushed in an offensive avalanche by West Virginia.

Miami-area native Geno Smith threw a career-high six touchdown passes, four of them to favorite target Tavon Austin, leading West Virginia’s record-setting romp in a 70-33 victory over ACC champion Clemson on Wednesday in the Discover Orange Bowl.

The Mountaineers (10-3) improved to 3-0 in BCS games and scored the most points in bowl game history, breaking Baylor’s mark of 67 set in last week’s Alamo Bowl win against Washington.

Smith put on a show in his homecoming, completing 31 of 42 passes for 401 yards to break Tom Brady’s Orange Bowl record and become the first player in school history with 4,000 passing yards. Austin was on the receiving end of 11 passes for 117 yards, making him the first player in school history with 100 receptions in a season.

The Mountaineers didn’t need any help getting their offense going — they scored touchdowns on three straight drives to take a 21-17 lead — but they got it anyway.

Darwin Cook stripped Clemson’s Andre Ellington as he was surging toward the goal line and emerged from the pack to race 99 yards and make it 28-17, and West Virginia used two more turnovers to put up 21 points in the final five minutes of the half for a 49-20 lead.

The 49 first-half points were the most-ever in a bowl game, and the Mountaineers had broken their school record for points in a bowl game and Clemson’s record for points allowed in a bowl by the time Smith threw the fourth of his six touchdown passes to make it 56-20 with 12:35 left in the third quarter.

The giveaways stalled a Clemson (10-4) offense that started off just as strong. The Tigers scored two touchdowns and a field goal in their first four drives and had a 17-14 lead at the end of a lively first quarter.

 

 

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