Ball Security Key for Clemson Tigers in Discover Orange Bowl

By Tyler Brett

At 10-2, the Clemson Tigers enjoyed another strong season in 2013. They weren’t able to get to the top of the ACC or BCS standings like they were hoping to back in August but a third straight 10-win season earned the Tigers an at-large bid to the BCS in the Discover Orange Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes. The key for Clemson’s success this season (and their two big failures) has been ball security. If Clemson can take care of the football against Ohio State, they have an excellent shot at coming away with the victory.

On the season, Clemson has come out even or ahead in the turnover battle 10 times. Not surprisingly, those have been where the Tigers’ 10 wins have come from as they enjoyed a plus-13 turnover margin in those contests. In games against the Florida State Seminoles and South Carolina Gamecocks, however, Clemson failed to secure the football and turned it over 10 times in the two games, including six in their regular season finale against South Carolina. They finished negative-9 in turnover margin in those games and lost by 37 and 14 points, respectively, because of it.

Ohio State has been average this season in creating turnovers, ranking No. 45 in the nation with 22 takeaways, including 14 interceptions, averaging 1.8 turnovers per game. They aren’t prolific in creating turnovers but they will definitely take advantage if the Tigers get sloppy with the football. Giving Urban Meyer extra possessions for his offense will certainly be a quick way to fall into a deep hole against the Buckeyes that Clemson has to avoid. That means protecting the football.

The key for Clemson will be their focus and execution, doing all the little things to protect the football. Twice against South Carolina, special teams coughed up the ball with fumbled punts that set up the Gamecocks with a short field. That cannot happen in the Orange Bowl or Clemson will get buried for the third time this season by their own mistakes.

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