MORGANTOWN - At least statistically speaking, the similarities between West Virginia and Clemson are striking.
But it goes beyond more than mere numbers.
"They are similar to us,'' West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. "In fact, I think they're incredibly similar to us.''
That should make for an interesting game when the teams meet Jan. 4 in the Orange Bowl.
As far as those numbers go, West Virginia averaged 34.9 points per game and Clemson 33.6. Both teams gave up an average of 26.2 points. The Mountaineers averaged just 19 yards more per game in total offense with a stronger emphasis on the pass. The Tigers allowed about 40 yards per game more in total offense.
"Even if you look at the schedules and the common opponents it's pretty similar,'' Holgorsen said.
Indeed, each team had two losses in conference and a non-league defeat at the hands of an SEC team (WVU against LSU and Clemson against South Carolina). As for the only common opponent, each team won at Maryland in a close game - WVU 37-31 and Clemson 56-45.
"I think we match up pretty well,'' Holgorsen said. "I think offensively we're two pretty exciting teams and then defensively it's the only way you can win a championship, if you have good quality defense.''
But as far as styles are concerned there are some differences. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, who for a time was committed to WVU during his senior season of high school, is more of a dual threat than is West Virginia's Geno Smith. One of Clemson's best players is tight end Dwayne Allen, who won the Mackey Award as the country's best at his position. West Virginia doesn't even use a tight end.
But each has a versatile big-play threat who catches passes, runs the ball and returns kicks. For West Virginia it is Tavon Austin. For Clemson it is the only Miami-area native on the roster, freshman Sammy Watkins.