All-Americans Sammy Watkins and Dwayne Allen are the latest standout receivers West Virginia will face in a bowl game when the 23rd-ranked Mountaineers meet No. 14 Clemson on Jan. 4 in the Orange Bowl.
Watkins’ speed and field awareness has enabled him to amass 1,153 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman while proving to be one of the nation’s most dangerous kickoff returners.
“He is a difference maker,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said.
The Mountaineers have about a half-dozen practices left to figure out a scheme that might slow down Watkins and his teammates. And they’ll have to do it without two-year starter Terence Garvin at safety.
Garvin had knee surgery after the final regular-season game and the junior will require six months of rehabilitation. Redshirt freshman Wes Tonkery and freshman Shaq Petteway will battle for Garvin’s spot in the bowl.
Clemson has surpassed 35 points eight times this season, and Watkins is confident it can happen again.
“If we play on all cylinders and everyone is doing their job, I think we can put up a lot of points on these guys,” he said.
West Virginia (9-3) has faced top-notched receivers twice in bowls in the past six seasons. The Mountaineers won both times but got burned in the secondary.
North Carolina’s Hakeem Nicks caught eight passes for 217 yards and three TDs in a 31-30 loss to the Mountaineers in the 2008 Meineke Bowl.
Georgia Tech’s Calvin Johnson had 186 yards receiving and two TDs in a 38-35 loss to West Virginia in the Gator Bowl to conclude the 2006 season
PURDUE: The school extended head football coach Danny Hope’s contract for two additional years, through Dec. 31, 2016, it announced Friday.
The Boilermakers struggled early this season, with early losses to Rice and Notre Dame. Purdue rallied and returned to postseason play for the first time in four years. The Boilermakers (6-6) will play Western Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Dec. 27 at Ford Field in Detroit.
ILLINOIS: Starting tailback Jason Ford will miss the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against UCLA because of academic problems.