Turnovers the difference in Clemson’s Orange Bowl win

Clemson wide receiver Martavis Bryant collects his second touchdown catch of the night to give the Tigers a 35-30 lead late in the third quarter.

Steve Mitchell/Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Clemson won the coin toss Friday night before the Discover Orange Bowl and elected to receive the opening kickoff.

One day shy of the two-year anniversary of its embarrassing loss, the 12th-ranked Tigers outlasted No. 7 Ohio State for a 40-35 victory.

Clemson (11-2) led 20-9 halfway through the second quarter before the Buckeyes (12-2) scored 20 unanswered points. The Tigers capitalized on consecutive Ohio State turnovers for a pair of scores to take back the advantage.

Both teams exchanged leads in the fourth before senior quarterback Tajh Boyd’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Stanton Seckinger with 6:16 left capped the scoring.

Tajh Boyd leads, leaves Clemson with change in mind

QUARTERBACKS ON THE GROUND: Ohio State’s Braxton Miller and Boyd each found the end zone on a carry for his respective team’s first score. It marked the first Orange Bowl since 1972 that both quarterbacks scored rushing touchdowns. Miller added another with 12 seconds left before halftime.

OFFENSIVE GAME: Friday marked the fourth-highest scoring first half in Orange Bowl history. The teams combined for 42 points, with the Buckeyes leading 22-20. The 23 first-quarter points was the third most. Both offenses entered averaging 40 or more points per game.

BUCKEYES ON THE RUN: Ohio State set a program record for most rushing yards (4,321) in a season by compiling 193 against the Tigers. The previous mark (4,199) was set in 1973. Three of the Buckeyes’ five touchdowns came on the ground.

FLORIDA BOY: Ohio State junior tight end Jeff Heuerman made two key contributions in the first half. On a fourth-and-2, the Fort Myers Barron Collier High graduate ran for six yards on a fake punt. His first carry of the season kept alive a drive that would end in a score. He then caught a 57-yard touchdown pass in the second.

STOPPAGES OF PLAY: There were 11 combined penalties for 111 yards by halftime. Clemson entered averaging just 4.8 per game for 42.4 yards (season-high 15-144 overall). Ohio State averaged just 5.2 and 44.5 yards (6-60 overall).

And they would be costly penalties. On a third-and-six, the Tigers sacked Braxton Miller but received a taunting infraction that gave OSU an automatic first down. The Buckeyes would go on to score a touchdown. A hands-to-the-face penalty on Clemson negated an incompletion, setting up another Ohio State score.

RARE OCCURRANCE: Both kickers missed an extra point during the second quarter. Clemson’s Chandler Catanzaro entered the game perfect on 56 tries. Ohio State’€™s Drew Basil was 74 for 75. The last time this happened in the Orange Bowl was 1956.

TAKEAWAYS: Miller tossed a season-high two interceptions and also lost a fumble. The Buckeyes turned the ball over a season-high four times. The final pick followed Boyd’s second mistake of the game that handed OSU the ball down five with less than two minutes to play.

THIRD-DOWN STRUGGLES: The Buckeyes went just 2-for-13 on third downs. Their first conversion didn’€™t come until 4:15 remaining in the second quarter. They entered the game at a 49-percent clip.

You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at cdenicola13@gmail.com.