2012/02/22 7:15 pm
With the season drawing to a close and only 4 regular season games left on the schedule, WVU finds itself in an unfamiliar position from the past few years- on the bubble.
A month ago, it looked like the Mountaineers were a lock for the Tournament, and many Mountaineer fans believed that the team should've been highly ranked after wins over Kansas State, Georgetown, Cincinnati, and others.
But the Mountaineers hit a wall that was inconveniently placed directly in the middle of their Big East conference schedule, culminating in losses in 5 out of 6 straight games before hopefully righting the ship at Pittsburgh last Thursday in a 66-48 blowout. (Adios, Pitt. Take that asswhuppin to remember us by.)
So what's been wrong with the team? What are WVU's realistic chances at an NCAA Tournament seed? Can they turn it around in time to make a run in the Big East and NCAA Tournaments?
Glad you asked. /cracks knuckles
(As always, stats in this article come from statsheet.com unless otherwise noted.)
What's been wrong?
Here's a list of things that the Mountaineers don't do particularly well as a team, combined with their national rank in that category in parenthesis.
- Opponent's field goal percentage- 44% (216th nationally, 14th in the BE)
Coming into the season, we knew that there was bound to be some slippage on the defensive side of the ball with so many freshmen running around for the Mountaineers.
That 44% is only slightly lower than WVU's own shooting percentage of 45.4%, which explains why WVU has found themselves in close games for much of the season.
- Fouls committed per game- 21 (326th and 16th)
This is the point of our analysis where many of you probably have some pretty choice words for the Big East's esteemed referees. Lord knows that there's definitely been something fishy about them this year.
But believe it or not, WVU is actually committing less fouls per game than they did last season when they committed 21.2 per game, good for 324th nationally and 16th in the Big East. (And if you want to keep the string going, they averaged exactly 21 per game during their Final Four year in 2009-2010. Which you can afford to do when Da'Sean Butler is dropping daggers at the end of seemingly every single game.)
To put this staggering number into perspective, there are only 344 teams in Division I basketball and WVU has been almost at the bottom for three straight years. So while the temptation is obviously strong to blame the Big East's crooked-ass refs, there's probably another answer there- Bob Huggins-coached teams are physical and foul a lot.
Huggybear has been in the ref's asses a LOT this year. (Justifiably so.)
(AP Photo/David Smith)
- Blocks- 72 (256th and 16th) and steals- (175th and 9th)
Ever notice how WVU never seems to get any fast breaks? This is why.
Kevin Jones is the only player on the team that consistently blocks shots, recording 1.1 per game. (By the way, this is a big improvement for KJ- he only averaged half a block per game last year.) Dominique Rutledge and Keaton Miles have the ability to swat shots away as well, although they both have seen limited minutes so far this season.
Blocks start fast breaks. WVU doesn't get many blocks.
Steals also start fast breaks. WVU doesn't get many steals.
Jabarie Hinds is the Mountaineers' best ball thief with 40 steals despite the fact that he's played over 200 minutes fewer (the equivalent of over 5 full games) than Truck Bryant, who has 29 steals.
The Mountaineers don't create many turnovers and don't get much of a chance to run. And when they do actually run, things like this happen:
I think Hell is a place where I'm strapped to a chair and forced to watch Truck Bryant on an endless series of botched fast breaks.
- Turnovers per game- 13.1 (215th and 8th)
Though this stat puts WVU squarely in the middle of the Big East in terms of turnovers, it's still too high, especially given the previously-mentioned lack of fast-break opportunities.
- 3-point field goal percentage- 31% (282nd and 14th)
You don't have to be Dr. James Naismith to see that WVU simply doesn't have many quality outside shooters. Although this has been true in the past of the Bob Huggins-era Mountaineers, I don't recall another time that saw WVU opponents throwing out a different 2-3 zone every...single...night with the full knowledge that WVU doesn't have the outside shooting to do anything about it.
The sad part of the Mountaineers' woes from the outside is that they're actually getting better shots than WVU teams ever have from the outside, as every team packs in their defense to stop Deniz Kilicli and KJ in the paint.
When analysts say "As Truck goes, so go the Mountaineers," this is the crux of that argument. If Truck Bryant is hot from the outside, defenses loosen up their zone against the Mountaineers inside, freeing up KJ and The Turk. If he's ice cold (which has happened often enough), WVU has no outside threat and the big boys inside see double teams.
The 3 guys on the team who take the most 3-point shots are Truck Bryant (192 attempts), Kevin Jones (104 attempts), and Jabarie Hinds (69 attempts). And they're shooting 31, 29, and 33% on those attempts, respectively.
Only Aaron Brown has a respectable percentage on 3-point shots at 42%, but he's fallen off a cliff lately for some reason. From the January 9 loss to UConn to now, Brown is shooting 10-38 from 3-point range, or 26%.
WVU can't shoot, and opponents know WVU can't shoot. Hence the steady diet of 2-3 defenses even by teams that don't typically play a 2-3.
KJ has been nothing short of awesome this season and is probably the Big East Player of the Year, but he shouldn't be shooting over 100 3's if he's only hitting 29% of them.
Alright, I'm ready to jump off a bridge. Don't we do anything well?
In short, yes. WVU does one thing very, very well.
Rebounding the basketball on the offensive end.
The Mountaineers are among the best in the country in just about every statistic that measures offensive rebounding and the effects of that rebounding. To wit...
Floor Percentage- 57.4 (4th nationally, 2nd in the Big East)
Regular readers will remember articles from previous Huggybear seasons in which I explained that WVU has been very good in a statistic called "floor percentage" over the past few seasons. To explain what it is, here's an excerpt from this article from last year:
(Amazing how little things change, right?)
This season, WVU is 4th in the nation in floor percentage, scoring on 57.4% of their possessions.
And all of this stems from WVU's ability to rebound its misses, which is reflected in another statistic...
Offensive rebound percentage- 40.6 (7th, 2nd)
This might as well be called the "Kevin Jones Stat." Once again, as in years past, when WVU misses shots, they go and get them better than almost any team in the nation. Rebounding percentage shows how often your team will get the rebound as compared to how many rebounds are available to be had.
Many commentators have noted that Kevin Jones is one of the best offensive rebounders in the nation because he pulls down 4.3 offensive rebounds per game (good for 2nd nationally, 1st in the Big East), but that doesn't take into account that Kevin Jones plays for a slow-it-down basketball team that is 158th in the nation in possessions per 40 minutes, and there aren't as many shots for him to rebound as there are for other teams.
Simply put, Kevin Jones is better at offensive rebounding than anyone on the Mountaineer basketball team is at doing anything else.
But offensive rebounding isn't all the Mountianeers do well...
They've vastly improved their free throw shooting.
Many a Mountaineer fan has thrown objects at the TV in anger over the past few seasons watching WVU miss foul shot after foul shot. In fact, the inability to hit free throws cost WVU a few games earlier this season (most notably the Baylor game).
But the Mountaineers have learned the art of free-throw-shooting on the fly this year. (Which actually makes sense given the fact that there are so many freshmen playing and they've adjusted to the stress, the schedule, the weight-room demands of a Bob Huggins team, etc.)
Though their full-season free throw percentage of 66.3% is only good for 263rd in the nation and 14th in the Big East, over the last 6 games, the Mountaineers are 82 for 106 from the line, good for 77.4%.
Put into perspective, 77.4% over the course of the entire season would make the Mountaineers the 4th best free-throw-shooting team in the nation.
(Thank Gary Browne for this improvement. He couldn't hit the backside of a barn earlier in the season and has turned himself into one of the better FT shooters on the team.)
Kevin Jones is Big East Player of the Year, right?
If he isn't I think we know where to place the blame. (Hint: His name starts with an "M" and ends with a "arinatto" and he goes by the alias, "Meatball.")
You want to talk about a guy that has stepped it up for his senior season? Check this out:
- 3rd in the nation in rebounds per game, 1st in the conference. (11.3)
- 13th in the nation in points per game, 1st in the conference. (20.4)
- 5th in the nation in minutes per game, 3rd in the conference. (38.3) (I bring this up because he's never allowed to leave the floor for a breather. Ever.)
- 52.8 field goal percentage, 9th in the conference. (He isn't a volume scorer.)
- 1.1 blocks per game, 15th in the conference. (He's stepped up his D this year as well.)
By my book, if you're leading the conference in points and rebounds and you're anything better than a D+ defender, you're the conference player of the year.
Unless your school is involved in a nasty lawsuit with the conference. Then it's dicey.
So are we going to the dance or not?
The Mountaineers find themselves smack dab in the middle of the Big East standings with road games at Notre Dame tonight and USF at the end of the season sandwiched with home games against #10 Marquette and #493782 DePaul left on the schedule.
Last year, every team that made it to .500 in the Big East made the NCAA Tournament, including the eventual NCAA Tournament Champion UConn Huskies, who finished 9-9 in Big East play. It's very reasonable to think that such may be the case again this year, and the Mountaineers, at 7-7, need to hope that it is.
WVU's RPI in the statsheet.com RPI (which is typically very accurate) is 35th, which should help them as well.
I think it's reasonable to assume that WVU can finish at least 2-2 in its last 4 games to reach 9-9 in conference, and hopefully at least one win in the Big East Tournament. WVU is presently 9th in the Big East and would face #16-seed DePaul in the opening round of the Big East Tournament if the season ended today, as noted in this wvillustrated.com article.)
All in all, I think it's reasonable to think that the Mountaineers will finish with an overall record of 19-12 with an NCAA Tournament appearance as an 8-seed.
Hmm... seems like I've seen those numbers somewhere before.
2012/02/15 2:53 pm
EDITOR'S NOTE- Wire topic suggested by @WVUFan35FF21 on The Couch's Twitter page- https://twitter.com/#!/THE_REAL_WMITC
Good things happen when you follow the Couch on Twitter, folks...
***You have entered the WVU vs. Syracuse Basketball Chat Room***
truck_me?_truck_you: /airballs 3-pointer vs. Syracuse
truck_me?_truck_you: NAH, COACH THAT WAS A PASS
istanbulsh-t: /gets rebound, puts back onto glass
syracuse_defender: /obvious goaltend
big_east_ref: /polishes nails
HuggUlongtime: JUMPING JESUS CHRIST ON A CRUTCH!!! HOW DID YOU NOT SEE THAT?!?!?!?
big_east_ref: Nothing to see here. Move along.
***The Mountaineers have lost to #2 Syracuse***
***You have entered the Pitt at WVU Basketball Chat Room***
truck_me?_truck_you: /fails to make defensive rotation
HuggUlongtime: HOLY $*#@!!!! YOU PLAY LIKE A SENIOR LIKE I PLAY THE FRENCH HORN.
big_east_ref: /calls technical on HuggUlongtime
HuggUlongtime: WHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?????!?!?! I CAN'T EVEN YELL AT MY OWN PLAYERS ANYMORE?
big_east_ref: You should treat each of these players like you would treat your own mother.
HuggUlongtime: How about I treat them like I treat your mother and *@#$ the *@#%# in the *@#$^#$ *@#^ like she was a Bangkok *@#$@&*#*$% @$ who @#$* &$%@ for 3 dollars?
***Later in the game***
big_east_ref: /turns page of magazine he's reading
HuggUlongtime: WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON??? WHAT GAME ARE YOU ASSHOLES WATCHING???
***The Mountaineers have lost to Pitt***
***You have entered the Puskar Center Chat Room***
HuggUlongtime: I swear to God, I don't know what to do.
HuggUlongtime: It's not enough that I'm playing enough freshmen to run a daycare center, I've got to deal with referees pissed off that WVU is taking a dump on their livelihood.
bombs_away_suckas: TRUST ME, I FEEL YOU.
bombs_away_suckas: DID YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENED ONCE I DIDN'T HAVE TO DEAL WITH BIG EAST REFS ANYMORE?
bombs_away_suckas: GENO SMITH IS STILL THROWING TOUCHDOWNS ON CLEMSON AS WE SPEAK.
HuggUlongtime: So what do you suggest we do?
bombs_away_suckas: HANG IN THERE, GET TO THE TOURNAMENT, GET SOME REFS WHO AREN'T SCARED THAT THEIR JOB IS GONNA GO AWAY BECAUSE OF WVU LEAVING THE BIG EAST, WHIP SOME ASS.
HuggUlongtime: Yeah, I guess that makes sense.
***You have entered the WVU at Pitt Basketball Chat Room***
keeping_up_with_da_kevinjoneses: /gets decapitated
big_east_ref: Looked clean to me.
luckoftheirish: Man, we have got to get the eff out of this conference like, yesterday.
2012/01/17 7:08 pm
2012/01/08 7:01 pm
I live life by a few hard and fast rules.
1) Don't eat seafood if you're nowhere near an ocean.
2) Wear tennis shoes to major sporting events- you never know when a riot could break out and you might need to run.
3) Never take a job where you stare at the clock all day.
And most importantly...
4) Any time WVU puts 70 points on the board in a BCS Bowl game in the same week the basketball team beats a top-10-ranked Big East team, you need to write an article for Wemustignitethiscouch.com.
At this point, you'd think the nation would start to think that WVU kinda shows up for these BCS games.
The week starts off full of promise. Two WVU men's basketball games are scheduled, including Saturday's game against #9-ranked
Going into the Orange Bowl, most reasonable analysts believed WVU's game with the ACC Champion Clemson Tigers was an even match-up of teams featuring similar strengths and weaknesses. (Strengths- offense, weaknesses- defense.)
All week long, WVU fans heard stories about Clemson's unstoppable offense and playmakers like Tahj Boyd and Sammy Watkins. In the pre-game specials before the Orange Bowl on Wednesday, WVU was essentially presented as The Team Clemson Is Playing. Robert Smith of ESPN's College Football Live predicted that the game would be a blowout for Clemson. Kirk Herbstreit predicted all week long, including in the moments before the game was to start, that the Mountaineers would get "crushed." The only on-air personality to pick the Mountaineers to win during the entirety of the hours of coverage by ESPN was Lou Holtz, a native West Virginian, and even he indicated that he thought Clemson was actually more talented.
Perhaps most telling of the national psyche around the game was The Map, ESPN Sportsnation's poll of national users indicating that literally every state in the United States expected Clemson to beat WVU... except West Virginia.
So what happened?
The game looked as if it was going to be a back-and-forth affair, with both teams scoring at will throughout most of the first 17 minutes of the game or so. Then Clemson turned into a turnover machine in the second quarter, giving up a fumble recovery on WVU's goal-line that led to Darwin Cook tackling the Orange Bowl mascot after a 99-yard return for a touchdown.
It was all fun and games after the fumble recovery for a TD, but Darwin Cook didn't know that Obie the Orange was a girl:
Clemson QB Tahj Boyd didn't want to be left out of the turnover party, so he promptly threw an interception to Pat Miller (I always liked that guy!) and fumbled after being donkey-punched by Bruce Irvin.
These turnovers were made all-the-more important by the fact that WVU was scoring touchdowns. After all of them.
Clemson had no answer for WVU's "quick" play, where Tavon Austin comes across the formation and Geno Smith taps him the ball from a shotgun snap. The Mountaineers scored 4 of their 10 ( ) touchdowns on this one simple play that led to the BCS's first-ever post-game mention of the Colorado School of Mines.
As this play counts as a pass, Geno Smith finished with 401 yards (Orange Bowl Record) 6 passing TDs (BCS record) and 1 rushing TD. Tavon Austin finished with 11 catches for 117 yards and 4 TDs(BCS Record), and broke the unofficial BCS record for "Holy-crap-what-did-he-just-do"s.
WVU called the dogs off in the third quarter as ESPN's game announcers like Ron Jaworski were saying things like, "Clemson might want to run the ball. WVU might put 90 on them." However, an interception by backup QB Paul Millard and Clemson's decision to go for a 2-point conversion following a meaningless late TD seemed to anger Holgorsen into heaping even more of a beatdown onto the ACC Champions.
(Ordinarily, I disapprove of running up the score on anyone. However, I wholeheartedly endorsed the Mountaineers attempting to score as much as possible for several reasons:
1) 70. Folks are going to remember that number loooong after they forget any of these other non-championship BCS games.
2) It was against the ACC, a conference that has raided the Mountaineers' conference twice with no regard for the stability of that conference or the teams in it.
3) After those raids the ACC has refused WVU's request for admission on multiple occasions for various reasons. (Academics, television exposure, etc.)
4) The national media's attitude of disrespect in the days and weeks leading up to this game regarding the Mountaineers and their chances.)
In the end, the Mountaineers came out and laid down an asswhipping so epic that it spawned a week's worth of jokes like this one from Fark.com:
WVU defeats Clemson 70-33 in Orange Bowl. The last time a group of South Carolinians were beaten this badly, it ended slavery.
WVU gave up 33 points and still managed to win by 37 points.
The Mountaineers set so many all-time NCAA bowl records that ESPN Big East Blogger Andrea Adelson needed an entire blog post to cover them all. Some highlights:
WVU now holds the record (in all bowls, not just BCS Bowls) for:
1) Most points in a quarter (35)
2) Most points in a half (49)
3) Most points in a game (70)
The ACC fell to 2-13 all-time in BCS Bowls, and WVU holds more BCS victories alone (3) than the entire ACC Conference.
After the game I tweeted that the Big East could thank the Mountaineers for restoring their legitimacy again by letting WVU go peacefully to the Big 12.
Around the same time the football team began thumping the ACC Champs' collective heads against the sidewalk, the basketball team was applying their own beat-down to Rutgers. WVU downed Rutgers 85-64, as Truck Bryant rebounded from a horrific game in WVU's loss to Seton Hall to score 29 points, and Kevin Jones' 14 point, 14 rebound performance led the way for the Mountaineers.
Almost as if the basketball team was doing Mountaineer fans a favor by allowing them to turn off the game to watch the Orange Bowl, WVU ran up a big lead on Rutgers and never let go even as Rutgers made a push to close the gap. The Mountaineers did, however, succeed in putting up enough points (83), that every sportswriter in the state had to look to some other angle to describe how many points the football team scored.
"OOOOOOH yeah, Jude. I'm gonna make you say something nice about me!"
After spending the week dousing ourselves in champagne and reveling in jokes about the insane 70-points that Dana Holgorsen and company put up, Mountaineer fans were playing with house money going into yesterday's basketball game against #9-ranked Georgetown.
The Hoyas had an 11-game winning streak snapped as they lost to the Mountaineers for the 5th straight time.
Both teams had turnover problems in the first half leading to a 2-point Mountaineer lead at halftime. WVU's struggles came against Georgetown's full-court pressure and Mountaineer inexperience in the backcourt dealing with such pressure.
Kevin Jones was again spectacular with 22 points and 16 rebounds, and is doing little to dispel the notion that he's a strong contender for Big East MVP at this point in the season, as well as national player of the year. He's now 5th in the nation in rebounding and 15th in points per game.
Truck Bryant struggled in the first half (4 turnovers) and didn't shoot well for the game (7-16), but displayed clutch free throw shooting (9-11) down the stretch to put the game out of reach late, finishing with 25 points. Gary Browne was the only other Mountaineer in double figure with 12 points, but he seems to have solved his free throw woes from earlier in the season, as he went 6-for-6 from the line.
With a 3-1 record in the Big East and a resume-padding win over a top 10 team, Mountaineer fans are beginning to dream that the Mountaineer basketball team, though young, might have their own magical season in them this year.
That optimism will be put to the test on Monday, as WVU travels to another top 10-ranked Big East opponent, this time the #8 UConn Huskies, who are coming off of 2 straight losses in conference to Seton Hall and the same Rutgers team that WVU beat down on Wednesday.
(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
KJ got his 22 points in a variety of ways, including this buzzer-beating running hook.
So you would think that would be enough of a gift for Mountaineer fans from the Sporting Gods, right? Two basketball wins (including a top 10 upset) and an epic beatdown in a BCS Bowl would make any week special.
But just to show that we all did something REALLY right to deserve good fortune, we were also given the gift of an 0-2 week for Pitt Basketball with losses to Cincinnati and (gasp) DePaul, and for good measure, we also got to witness the Pitt football team lose their bowl game 28-6 to Mighty Southern Methodist University.
Happy New Year, indeed.
The Mountaineer basketball season plows ahead with surprising success given the vast amount of youth on the team, and the football team looks to finish their own season with a respectable national rank and big prospects for next season.
"The victory caps a great season and helps us lay the groundwork for the future," Coach Holgorsen said in this Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article. "The win puts our program in a shining moment for now, but we believe better things are ahead."
It's hard to imagine any better weeks for West Virginia University athletics than the one we just had. So if better days are coming, this is going to be fun.
2011/12/06 5:40 pm
In its last season in the Big East (whether league meatball John Marinatto wants to admit it or not), West Virginia will represent the Big East in the BCS for the third time in the last seven years.
Despite not looking anything like a BCS team for large portions of the season, WVU (9-3, 5-2 Big East) survived considerable odds to earn a three-way share of the league title.
After losing to Syracuse and Louisville in regular-season play, the Mountaineers had given up their bowl destiny, needing a victory at South Florida plus two wins from Cincinnati, who were facing long adds by depending on a backup QB who willingly goes by the name Munchie.
After Cincy dispatched Syracuse to keep West Virginia's hopes alive, the 'Eers rallied from 7 points down in the final minutes of a 30-27 win over USF. The key play came with 13 seconds left, with WVU facing 4th-and-10 from beyond field goal range and with no timeouts. Geno Smith found a diving Stedman Bailey for a 26-yard completion, moving the ball well inside the range of Tyler Bitancurt. The ensuing chain movement stopped the clock just long enough for Smith to spike the ball and setup Bitancurt's 28-yard game-winner.
"I wasn't thinking about much of anything. I was just trying to stay calm and focused," Bitancurt told the AP in this story. "I've kicked one to win a game as time expired, but never to win a Big East championship."
It was WVU's first win in Tampa since 2005, earning the Mountaineers a piece of the league title as a final insult before departing the sinking league for the greener pastures of the Big 12. Incidentally, WVU's victory made them the14th program in NCAA history to record 700 victories with the win.
Cincinnati then followed suit on Saturday, completing their two-game mini season by holding off Connecticut to earn a share of the league title with WVU and U of L. Thanks to Big East by-laws, that created a mini-conference in which all three teams were 1-1.
The next tiebreaker went to the BCS standings, which were released Sunday with WVU at No. 23. No other Big East team was ranked in the top 25.
It had to be a double-edged sword for Cincinnati, whose victory enabled the Mountaineers to claim the league's BCS spot from two league loyalists. Marinatto and company had a no-win situation between rooting for WVU's legitimacy as the league's most respected team (though admittedly one who is suing the league to get out) or the national beating it would take by having a 7-5 Louisville team stinking up the national spotlight.
After considerably less drama than the three weeks that preceded it, the Mountaineers were invited to their first-ever Orange Bowl appearance against Clemson. WVU could have also faced old Big East rival Virginia Tech, but the Hokies clearly wanted to keep the Black Diamond Trophy longer and decided to tank to the Tigers for the second straight time, losing 38-10.
Clemson is making its fourth Orange Bowl appearance, the first since winning the national championship following the 1981 season.
Virginia Tech, meanwhile, received a pretty good consolation prize, thanks to a soon-to-be void rule that a conference can't have more than two BCS teams. The guideline left Arkansas and South Carolina out in the cold, and the Sugar Bowl chose the Hokies to take on Michigan in a blatant cash-grab, taking a pair of two-loss teams (that travel well) over higher-ranked one-loss teams Kansas State and Boise State (that likely wouldn't put butts in seats).
Those same Hokies - did I mention they beat just one Top 25 team all year? - were housed by Clemson twice en route to the Tigers' ACC title win.
“It's really an exciting opportunity for West Virginia University's football program to be able to go to the Orange Bowl for the first time,” first-year head coach Dana Holgorsen said in a school release. “… It's going to be a great matchup, we're Co-Big East champions and they're ACC champions.”
Back where we belong- the BCS.
The game should have plenty of scoring as both offenses have a multitude of weapons. The two teams average a combined 900 yards per game (WVU 460 vs. 440 from Clemson). They combine to average over 600 yards passing and nearly 70 points.
West Virginia is ranked 19th in the country with an average of 34.9 points per game while Clemson is 27th at 33.6.
“Offensively I think that's what people want to see,” Holgorsen said. “But the only way you can win the game is if defensively, you stop people. I think the turnover margin is the biggest thing in football.
“I think we're pretty good defensively and Clemson's pretty good defensively and the one that gets the most stops and creates the most turnovers will probably be the one that wins the game.”
The tale of the tape continues to be close down the line offensively.
West Virginia ranks No. 7 nationally in passing offense (at 341.8 yards) to go along with a 17th ranking in total offense, averaging 459.6 yards.
The Tigers are 21st in passing at 284.8 yards per game while averaging 440.6 yards per game, good enough to rate them 29th in total offense.
Geno Smith has passed for 3,978 yards and 25 touchdowns, setting school records along the way and ranking him ninth in the country in total offense (325.6 ypg.). The junior also rated 22nd in passing efficiency with a rating of 148.38.
Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey are the first receiving duo to produce 1,000-yards season in tandem. Austin has 1,063 yards and four scores (plus two kick-off return TDs), while Bailey has 1,197 yards and a team-best 11 scores.
Austin passed Steve Slaton's 2006 school record of 2,104 all-purpose yards in a season in the season finale win over USF.
Dustin Garrison leads WVU's ground game, which has often been the offense's weakest link. The freshman has 742 yards on the season.
After an 8-0 start, Clemson was briefly in the national title picture, before losing three road games at Georgia Tech (31-17), N.C. State (37-13) and South Carolina (34-13).
The Tigers are led by quarterback Tajh Boyd, a former WVU verbal commitment who has completed 271-of-450 passing for 3,541 yards and 30 touchdowns. Boyd closed the year at No. 18 in the country in total offense (289.5 yard per game) and 30th in passing efficiency (145.00 rating).
Clemson's Sammy Watkins set a school record for single-season receiving yards this year, finishing with 77 catches for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Sammy Watkins is a baaaaad dude.
DeAndre Hopkins complements Watkins with 62 catches for 871 yards and four touchdowns.
In the ground game, junior Andre Ellington broke the 1,000-yard barrier, becoming just the 12th player in school history to do so, and the first to break it since C.J. Spiller in 2009.
Defensively both units have often been suspect; WVU has been torched for 30-plus points five times versus six such outbursts given up by Clemson.
The Tigers are 59th in total defense with an average allowed of 379.4 yards, while the unit ranks 80th against the run with 176.5 ypg. surrendered to opponents.
WVU has fared somewhat better, ranking 27th with 340.3 yards by opponents, including a 51st rating with 140.8 yards given up on the ground.
“I think we match up pretty good,” Holgorsen said. “I think offensively, we're two pretty exciting teams and defensively, the only way to win a championship is if you have good quality defense.
“I think our fans are going to be excited about coming to South Florida - both Clemson's fans and West Virginia's fans. We should have an unbelievable crowd and a great atmosphere for a great BCS matchup.”
Clemson is making its 34th bowl game appearance in its history; the Tigers own a 16-17 all-time bowl mark.
West Virginia is making its 31st bowl appearance with a 13-17 all-time record in bowl games.
The Orange Bowl will take place Wednesday, Jan. 4, at 8 p.m. The game will air on ESPN.