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And it’ll be a homecoming of sorts for Clemson freshman Sammy Watkins as well. Watkins, who grew up about a 2-hour drive away from Miami in the Fort Myers, Fla. area, has 77 catches for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns, plus another score on a return.

“We anticipate an exciting, high-scoring game,” Orange Bowl CEO Eric Poms said.

Clemson had eyes on the BCS all season, even getting some mention during the year as a national-title hopeful. The Tigers were never ranked at any point in 2010, but rose all the way to No. 6 this year after an 8-0 start. A loss to Georgia Tech started a downward spiral, during which Clemson lost three of its last four regular-season games, the final two blowout losses to North Carolina State and rival South Carolina.

The Tigers looked shaky _ that is, until Saturday night.

Clemson snapped its slump in the second half of the ACC title game, turning a matchup that was a 10-10 halftime tie into a 38-10 rout of Virginia Tech.

So 30 years later, the Tigers are back in the Orange Bowl _ the game where the school captured its only national championship. Clemson downed Mike Rozier and Nebraska 22-15 on Jan. 1, 1982, capping a perfect season.

“The site of our program’s greatest moment,” Swinney said.

West Virginia is in the Orange Bowl for the first time and looking for its third BCS win in seven years. It beat Georgia in the Sugar Bowl after the 2005 season and topped Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl two years later.

For a pair of schools with rich tradition and separated by only about 500 miles, they have hardly any history against one another.

West Virginia and Clemson have met only once previously, a 27-7 Tigers win in the 1989 Gator Bowl. Chester McGlockton _ the former Pro Bowler who died suddenly last week _ sealed the Tigers’ win midway through the fourth quarter of that game 22 years ago by knocking the ball from Mountaineers quarterback Major Harris and falling on it in the end zone for a touchdown.

“We look forward to getting back together down there in Miami,” Swinney said.


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