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Orange Bowl had to choose West Virginia

| Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Orange Bowl didn't have a choice about which teams it could invite.

The bowl had an automatic tie-in with the ACC. It also was the last BCS bowl to make its school selection, and West Virginia, the Big East's automatic BCS qualifier, hadn't been picked.

Still, Orange Bowl representatives said it's an ideal matchup between ACC champion Clemson and Big East co-champion WVU.

"We weren't quite sure what was going to happen with the Sugar (Bowl)," Orange Bowl representative Jeff Rubin said. "Once they finally made a decision where they were going to go, that left us with the opportunity to invite the Big East team, which was West Virginia."

Though the game is Jan. 4, Rubin the bowl hopes fans spend the week in Miami enjoying the festivities.

The Orange Bowl will shut down South Beach on Dec. 31 to allow for concerts and other activities. It's also working with the WVU Alumni Association to create other events, including a tailgate on game day.

Rubin said close to 60,000 tickets were pre-sold, including a 17,500 ticket allotment purchased by each school. Sun Life Stadium holds just more than 75,000 fans.

West Virginia fans will be located in the Northwest quadrant of the stadium, while Clemson fans will sit in the Southeast quadrant.

The rock band Train will perform at halftime.

"We're looking forward to it," Rubin said. "Both schools travel very well, and there seems to be a lot of enthusiasm on both sides of the table. We think that's going to bring a lot of fans down."

West Virginia players and coaches also will receive hospitable treatment. The team will arrive Dec. 29 with two large fire hoses shooting over the plane when it hits the tarmac.

Each player receives an orange, backpack and snack as he steps off the plane, and the team is escorted by 18 police officers on motorcycles to the Fontainebleau Resort.

"Whenever they travel, we have police officers that take them. It's presidential," Rubin said. "It's an amazing experience, but this is what the players have earned."

The Mountaineers will practice on campus at Barry University.

Dolphin likes WVU

A dolphin named Flipper at the Miami Seaquarium picked West Virginia to beat Clemson.

A ball with each school's respective logo was placed in the dolphin's tank, and Flipper knocked the West Virginia ball out of the tank.

Last season, Flipper picked Virginia Tech over Stanford, but the Cardinal won, 40-12.

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