With the Orange Bowl just one week away, Clemson is officially in Miami with the game squarely on the horizon. The most telling news to come out of the past few days was the injury to star receiver Nuke Hopkins. It doesn't appear that his injury in a car accident is serious, though he was said to have sustained a concussion. Whether he will play in the bowl game has yet to be determined, but he sure would be a big loss if he can't go next week. You don't just replace his 800+ receiving yards and 4 touchdowns.
Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the Tigers’ second-leading receiver, suffered a mild concussion in a car accident on Tuesday morning and did not travel with the team to the Discover Orange Bowl in Miami. The good news is that Hopkins doesn't have any other serious injuries and he hopes to join his teammates soon, according to a school spokesman. No further details on the accident were immediately available.
This Clemson team is still going to be hard to get a read on. For a team that has been so up and down over the last month of football, there's no telling how they will respond against a high-paced, well coached West Virginia team. Clemson will have its hands full on defense, and have to contain Tavon Austin, West Virginia's version of Sammy Watkins.
With a month off between the title game and the Discover Orange Bowl, it becomes even more difficult to predict which Clemson team will show up in Miami -- the one that finished the regular season having lost three of the final four games, or the one that beat the Hokies soundly for the second time this year. As the Tigers prepare to face West Virginia in what will be the program’s first appearance in the Orange Bowl in 30 years, they do so expecting to play the same way they did in the ACC championship game, if not better.
As for the ACC, the Conference looked a little better last night as NC State held off a late attack by Louisville to improve the conferences record to 1-1 in bowl games in 2011. For a school that was on their way to firing Tom O'Brien around mid-season, they sure did turn it around at the end of the season and return a ton of players next year. As for North Carolina, they looked completely inept on both sides of the ball against Missouri. Lots of changes in store for that program as they will have a whole new look next year with a revamped coaching staff.
There was no shortage of momentum swings in the Belk Bowl for both NC State and Louisville, two teams that finished the season on hot streaks and scraped their way into the postseason. Special-teams snafus were a highlight (or lowlight, depending on your seat), and both teams combined for five turnovers.
As for basketball? Things have looked rather bleak as of late for the Tigers. This team is struggling to say the least, capped off by a poor showing in the Diamond Head Classic. Devin has not played up to his potential, Milton has looked flat for long stretches, and Andre Young has been inconsistent as of late. Clemson fans could be in store for a long season ahead, especially with ACC play not having started yet. Two of the team's first four games are on the road and one of those four games includes a game at home against powerhouse Duke. Brownell is certainly strong in getting the most out of his players, and this year will certainly be his biggest test yet in Tigertown.