2014 Russell Athletic Bowl schedule and coverage: Clemson vs. Oklahoma
Formerly the Champs Sports Bowl, and even more formerly the Blockbuster Bowl, the Russell Athletic Bowl pits the ACC against the American.
When the Russell Athletic Bowl was founded in 1990, it was the Blockbuster Bowl. There may be a joke somewhere about this year’s game being the first since Blockbuster finally closed its doors, but that may be too much of a stretch. This is a space for information, not humor. And here’s the most important information: This year’s game will feature a talent-filled matchup of Clemson and Oklahoma.
Nothing was funny about last year’s Russell Athletic Bowl, which Louisville won, 36-9, over Miami in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s final collegiate game. Bridgewater, now a member of the Minnesota Vikings, won the game’s MVP with three touchdown passes and a 1-yard touchdown run.
Last year’s game was also Charlie Strong’s last as the Cardinals’ coach before Texas hired him to replace Mack Brown.
Date and time, ET: Monday, Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m. ET
TV channel: ESPN
Location: Orlando, Fla.
Stadium: Citrus Bowl; 61,348
Last year’s score: Louisville 36, Miami (Fla.) 9
Last year’s attendance: 51,098
Last year’s TV rating: 3.5
Last year’s payout for each school: $2,275,000
Team with the most all-time appearances: North Carolina State, five
Team with the most all-time wins: North Carolina State and Florida State, three
Clemson Tigers (9-3, 6-2 ACC)
2014 was an strange season for Clemson. Coming into the season, it had to replace possibly the best quarterback and wide receivers in program history in Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins, but due to recent recruiting efforts, there was a lot of confidence it could do so without taking too big of a step back. It seems it did just that.
The Tigers lost their season opener at Georgia and a September overtime showdown with Florida State, then reeled off six straight wins. They also finally broke South Carolina’s five-game winning streak in the Battle for the Palmetto State, but health issues surrounding star freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson were the biggest storyline of the season. Watson is one of the premier talents in the country, but he missed a month with a broken hand, and then it came out that he played (and beat!) South Carolina with a partially torn ACL.
Watson will reportedly play in the Tigers’ bowl game and have surgery afterwards, but another issue to keep an eye on is the departure of offensive coordinator Chad Morris to SMU.
Last bowl game: 2014 Orange Bowl vs. Ohio State, 40-35 win
All-time bowl record:18-18
Head coach’s bowl record: Dabo Swinney, 3-3
Oklahoma Sooners (8-4, 5-4 Big 12)
Heading into the season, Oklahoma was a trendy pick for a playoff run. The Sooners were fresh off a Sugar Bowl blowout of Alabama, with a returning quarterback who starred in the game and a talented defense. Oklahoma’s offense ended up being explosive, but it was newcomer Samaje Perine who was the star of the show in the Sooners’ disappointing season.
Perine, a true freshman, set the FBS record for rushing yards in a game when he ran 34 times for 427 yards in a 44-7 win over Kansas. The Sooners’ four losses came to TCU, Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma State — the last of which gave their rivals’ bowl eligibility.
Last bowl game: 2014 Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama, 45-31 win
All-time bowl record: 28-18-1
Head coach’s bowl record: Bob Stoops, 8-7