HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — The last time Ohio State and Clemson got together in a bowl game, Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes punched a Tigers player and was fired the next day.
On Wednesday at the Orange Bowl news conference for the Jan. 3 game at Sun Life Stadium, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and Clemson counterpart Dabo Swinney traded compliments instead.
Clemson won that previous meeting, 17-15 in the 1978 Gator Bowl. Meyer has led the Buckeyes to a 12-1 record this year, losing to Michigan State 34-24 on Saturday night. Clemson lost games this season to top-ranked Florida State and South Carolina.
“This is a great reward for another excellent season,” Swinney said. “It’s great to be competing against a great quality opponent like Ohio State.”
Meyer offered similar praise, saying: “Ohio State hasn’t been here in a long time and we have a lot of fans in South Florida. I think Clemson ... will be a great opponent and it should be an exciting game.”
At stake for Meyer is a chance to finish a fourth season at 13-1 since 2006. Meyer is the first coach to lead three different teams – Utah, Florida and Ohio State – to a BCS Bowl game.
It’s been a two-year magical run,” Meyer said. “We experienced some incredible success over the last two years and we’re going to try and get our 13th win.
“I can tell you this, every team in America wakes up in August and wants to play in a BCS Bowl game and we’re one of the few teams that get to do that.”
The Tigers most recent Orange Bowl outing will not bring back good memories. They allowed West Virginia a BCS-record 70 points in their 70-33 loss.
Ohio State and Clemson come into the Orange Bowl led by star quarterbacks.
The Buckeyes Braxton Miller threw for 1,860 yards and 22 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,033 yards and an additional 10 touchdowns.
Tajh Boyd passed for 3,473 yards and 29 touchdowns. He rushed for 273 yards and an additional nine touchdowns for the Tigers.
“I’ve been watching Tajh Boyd play for many years now and I think he’s transitioned from a good player to a great player,” Meyer said. “He’s a dynamic thrower. And as with most excellent quarterbacks his surrounding cast might be the best in America.”
The Orange Bowl is Jan. 3 at Sun Life Stadium.