It’s been clear for several days that No. 18 Clemson would go bowling near the House of Mouse.
The only questions were which day the Tigers would suit up in Orlando, who they’d play and which business would sponsor the contest staged in the town Walt Disney brought to life.
Turns out the date will be Dec. 29, as 9-3 Clemson will meet 8-4 and unranked Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl at Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium.
The late December tilt serves as something of a companion to the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, slated for the same venue but played on New Year’s Day and offering a higher payout.
This marks the 10th consecutive season Clemson has played in a bowl and 37th overall.
The Tigers last competed in a postseason game in Orlando in 2005, beating Colorado 19-10 in the Champs Sports Bowl.
“We have a bunch of kids on our staff, not to mention 115 players who’ll have a chance to experience all that Orlando has to offer,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “We’re appreciative of the opportunity to participate in the bowl in Orlando.”
The ACC vs. Big 12 matchup features a Tiger team that ended the regular season on a high note with a rout of its arch rival and another that lost its state championship.
Clemson begins 2015 with a two-game winning streak, punctuated by a 35-17 rout of South Carolina in the regular season finale, while Oklahoma fell to Oklahoma State 38-35 on Saturday.
It was also mark the debut of the Tigers’ co-offensive coordinators, Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott, who replace Chad Morris.
Morris took the head coaching job at SMU on Dec. 1, and Elliott and Scott assumed their new roles a day later.
“I’m really excited having the opportunity to promote Tony and Jeff,” Swinney said. “They’ve been a huge part of our success the last several years. Tony will call the plays and he’ll do a great job of that.”
In addition, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables will be reunited with his old team where he coached from 1999-2011. He’ll be able to show off the nation’s top-ranked defensive unit to OU boss Bob Stoops.
“I haven’t talked to Brent yet,” Stoops said. “We texted the other day. In coaching you’re bound to run into your good buddies now and again but for about four hours we’ll have to go against each other. He’s done an awesome job (at Clemson). His players play disciplined and hard and (his success) is no surprise to me.”
The Tigers and Sooners have met three times in football with Oklahoma holding a 2-1 edge.
Clemson lost to OU 31-14 in 1963 and 52-3 in 1972, and then picked up its first victory against the Sooners in Orlando in the Jan. 2, 1989 Citrus Bowl, winning 13-6.
Noted: Quarterback Deshaun Watson, who played with a torn ACL in his left knee against USC, is available for the bowl game but could have surgery.
“We might go ahead and do surgery to get a three-week head start on his rehab,” Swinney said. “He has eight months of rehab ahead and we want him available for skills and drills this summer.”