You are looking somewhat live at Sun Life Stadium. Took that photograph a little while ago before the sun was setting and we took a lap around the field. The lights are on now and the field is populated with all sorts of suits. Kickoff is 2 hours, 45 minutes away now. Still?
Interesting start to the day. JackBo and I went to eat, took a wrong turn in Lauderhill and ended up in Pittsburgh.
We figured things out and made it to the stadium. Really neat place outside … and I guess I’m just a sucker for the idea of tailgating with palm trees on one side of you and a stadium to the other side.
This is the Discover Club. Bar on the left. Buffet on the right …
… and plenty of seating.
No trouble getting in the stadium. Typically you park on one side of the stadium and are made to enter the other. We parked and walked about 50 yards to the left of the entrance. Someone didn’t trust the process and asked for directions. The guy looks at Jack, who has just asked about the media entrance and is holding a briefcase, and asks, “Are you a fan?” Jack: “Do I look like a fan?”
Fired up a little later, he said, “I stopped just short of calling him a —- —-.” He’s since followed with about a half-dozen one-liners. Before kickoff, I might start the StuffJackBoSays twitter page.
Speaking of …
Miami: Collared shirt, sweater, sports jacket, massive cookie.
The stadium is a stadium. Cool visual elements and massive video boards.
The field is open to the media up until 45 minutes prior to the kickoff. We wend today and actually stormed the field by way of the old Florida Marlins locker room.
The Dolphins and Jets played here Sunday … and it kind of looks like it.
The halftime show is headlined by Train and Train will play for on this during the 22-minute diversion.
6:09: WVU has 69 players on the dress list. The only notable omission — and by that I mean a guy who is here and isn’t on the list — is Cole Bowers. Tyler Urban is on the list.
WVU’s honorary game captain is Darryl Talley. Clemson’s is Jeff Davis.
6:12: Big Ten crew tonight, led by referee Dave Witvoet. You’ll have some fun with this, I’m sure.
6:15: … and this …
“Legendarily incompetent!” Basically, it appears you’ve got the Tim Higgins of college football.
6:34: Somewhat proud to announce I’m one of 15 voters for the MOP award. Ballots go to three beat writers for each team, writers for the four local news organizations, the three in the ESPN television booth and the two in the ESPN radio booth.
6:37: Oregon gets its custom unis and helmets procured from NASA. WVU and Clemson get Vapor Talon Elite shoes, Nike’s fastest football cleat, with on-demand traction.
7:30: The Orange Bowl notes are wrong. Talley is not the honorary game captain. It’s Pat White. Also, those vignettes and packages ESPN is showing with WVU players speaking or posing or throwing a ball, etc., were shot on WVU’s campus. The whole thing took 41/2 hours Dec. 21.
7:31: The first string offensive line in warmups has Ty Rader at right guard and Pat Eger at right tackle. Hard to tell who the first-team spur safety is, though.
7:55: This is my second BCS bowl, both with JackBo at my side. He’s been to three Orange Bowls now — 1993 season (1/1/94) when Florida State beat Nebraska for Bobby Bowden’s first national title and 1996 (12/31/96) when Nebraska mauled Virginia Tech. He’s now covered four BCS games.
8:11: “Proud to be an American” being sung in the stadium. People singing very loudly and gesturing almost in unison as a man parachutes to the field. Also, WVU’s spur safety is officially a “game time” decision. They announced all the other changes. Finally, it’s 57 degrees outside.
8:14: The fifth and final parachuter flies in, buzzes the sideline, pulls a “Holgorsen” on the landing and stumbles as he brandishes an American flag. The crowd chants “USA” together. For what there is, it’s a fun crowd.
8:22: WVU hits the field to its normal home entrance video. Right now, I have to say, Clemson has more and louder fans here.
8:29: Just warning you, but I have Yakety Sax open in another tab. It’s at the ready.
8:30: Excellent. Kept him out of the end zone, though. Brodrick Jenkins and Wes Tonkery start.
8:32: Confusion in the secondary there as Miller and Jenkins got crossed up with Jenkins playing safety. Plain old drop for Clemson after a double move. Clemson runs a lot of double moves.
8:33: Devon Brown is the first punt returner. Fair catch gets you a first-and-10 on the 23.
8:37: Corey Smith! I always liked him. Rolled one 48 yards and it’s downed at the Clemson 4.
8:44: That’s Clemson — six plays, 96 yards, 1:39 off the clock and a big play ends it. Ellington was basically untouched on a read-dive play. Barber didn’t have a great series there. Only two touchdown runs have been longer in the Orange Bowl.
8:48: Believe it or not, Eu ran too fast on that scramble. He wanted a block from Braun that would have given him a lot of room, but Braun couldn’t get there. And Eu got smacked for a second time on the next play, which was a second incomplete pass with contact.
8:51: And here’s the ref’s first big chance. He’s not down. I believe Dabo called a timeout to get the ref to look at the play and the ref now says there’s no timeout and that it’s an official’s review. That’s not right, if it’s true. Ruling on the field is confirmed, which means it was found to be true. Different than saying the play stands. Also, Dana is not happy about this timeout thing, which the ref just fixed. Twice.
8:55: Tavon blows a tire as he’s about to race into the end zone, but Alston motors in on the next play and we’re tied 7-7. Eight plays, 72 yards and 2:39 off the clock. Could be a long game, folks
8:58: Corey Smith is wearing gloves again.
8:59: WVU fans with an a capalla 7NA and Watkins nearly breaks the kickoff return.
9:03: Boyd gets a little pressure, panics and throws it over the head of Watkins. Brodrick runs over and taps Watkins on the helmet.
9:05: So Watkins is all right, but it’s a heck of a lot easier when the defense keeps vacating the middle of the field. The Tigers need nine plays and 2:16 to go 62 yards that time.
9:07: That was easy. Stedman was behind the corner and the safety was chasing, which left Milhouse wide open.
9:10: Nice vision by Geno there. He wasn’t getting the first down if he continued straight. Running left took more time, but he got the yards.
9:14: Track meet at the Orange Bowl. Tavon had 13 carries all season. He has three tonight and took over the lead in all-purpose yards nationally on his kickoff return to start that drive.
9:18: Man, Clemson tries to open the middle an awful lot. Did on the TD run and TD catch and tried to there. Nice play by Barber though. Clemson kicks a field goal and WVU fans erupt.
9:25: Nice opening. Highest scoring first quarter in Orange Bowl history. It’s the third-highest scoring quarter ever here.
9:34: WVU playing with a pretty crisp pace and we’ve already tied the bowl record for the most points in the first half here. Remember, both sides said pace was key.
9:37: Lights just went out above both end zones.
9:41: Seriously, half the lights are out and it’s still really bright out there.
9:41: Ea Smith playing his face off. I’d rather the PA tell us when he doesn’t make a tackle. Saves his voice.
9:45: Cleveland! Strip and Cook, who everyone has been telling me is slow, scoops it up and runs away from everyone. That’s a touchdown. How do they reverse it? His knees aren’t down and the ball is out. I think one-handed Doug Rigg gets the strip — one-handed Doug Rigg recovered the fumble against USF — and Cook makes just a great play to see it happen, find the ball and run. Huuuuuuge swing. Cleveland!
9:48: Second longest scoring play in bowl history and the longest defensive score in bowl history.
9:49: Sheesh, Cook tackled Obie … and I believe Obie is a woman. I know I’ve said this before, but Cook is a pleasure to talk to. He’s a card. That’s why.
9:55: Clemson left tackle Phil Price (knee) is out for the game. WVU pass rush has been better last few series and Price has been out.
9:58: Geno’s second first-down conversion on a third down is a 1-yard gain and puts both teams at 498 yards of offense for the game already.
10:08: Nice play after the catch by Buie, but he gets hammered on the tackle. The kid gets hit a lot. And then does nothing on the next snap. Loss of five.
10:10: Interesting play. Clemson’s cornerback, Martin Jenkins, was jumping up and down before the snap. Smith looked and paused and saw WVU had three where Clemson had two. A defender came over to cover Austin, but Austin ran inside and cleared him out and Geno ran to that left side for the touchdown … and Devon Brown, who’s having a great night, basically blocked three defenders.
10:12: I’m telling you, that turf is in rough shape.
10:13: Big, big drive here for the Tigers. WVU gets the ball to start the second half and Clemson is terrific in the third quarter. Clemson can’t make an error.
10:14: And Boyd forces one Pat Miller saw coming. He kind of handles Watkins and sneaked inside for an interception. First down at the 33. Foot-on-the throat time here.
10:15: Milhouse with another 33-yard reception. He, too, is having a great game.
10:16: Uh, so is Tavon. That’s his third touchdown and it’s 42-20. That was a massive sequence there. Also, Tavon told me he’s not going pro. I wonder how much he rethinks that statement now.
10:18: Curious to see how Dana, with all the momentum, handles this. He has two timeouts. Clemson has 1:10 to go.
10:19: I think Boyd is down there. The officials stopped play, but David Lockwood was calling a timeout. And WVU absolutely thinks it’s getting the ball back here.
10:21: I ask you an honest question: Has this ever happened to WVU in a bowl? How about ever, period? That’s Irvin with the force and Najee with the recovery.
10:24: Just unbelievable. WVU looked lost there and still scored a touchdown.
10:27: Clemson linebacker Daniel Andrews was having words with WVU people as he tried to leave the field at halftime. People had to intervene. The Tigers are a little bent right now and WVU gets the ball to start the second half.
10:52: If WVU doesn’t turn it over this half, it would be really hard for the Mountaineers to lose this game. And they played a very clean first half — one penalty, no turnovers and only three negative yardage plays.
10:59: This is just ridiculous. Lots and lots of records being set here. WVU set a record for point in a half in any bowl game. Make sure you read the Daily Mail tomorrow to check this list out. It’s a long list.
11:01: Press row discussion. WVU could feasibly lead 70-20 here soon. That’s a 50-point lead. Say it’s still the third quarter. Dana can’t back off, right? I mean, he has to run offense, at least into the fourth quarter.
11:04: Another hypothetical, since we’re at that juncture: Doesn’t this game just totally devalue a defensive coordinator’s worth?
11:07: Clemson fans conducting a mass exodus here. This is going to turn into a beer bash in the stands soon.
11:14: Anybody care to start writing time capsules for this season? This is an unfathomable end to a story that started more than a year ago. Just as shocking at the end as it was at its most unbelievable moments at any time before this.
11:23: There is 4:53 to go and Paul Millard is in the game. So is the rest of the first team. I’d imagine this is basically practice for Millard. Geno is eight yards shy of the Orange Bowl passing record.
11:32: And Geno is back in the game. I imagine Dana didn’t like Millard’s interception.
11:37: I’m curious how disorganized WVU’s sideline is.
11:38: I can’t imagine what this is doing for WVU’s future bowl ticket sales.
11:58: Fade! Bolivia!
Midnight (!): Geno has set a BCS and an Orange Bowl record with his sixth touchdown. He’s thrown four underhanded touchdown passes. Tajh has throw two overhand touchdown passes.
12:04 am: WVU has the most points in any bowl, ever.
12:33: Off to the postgame, which ought to be interesting.