Once again the Tigers and Buckeyes are squaring off in the Fiesta Bowl, in the College Football Playoffs semifinal round. It is a rematch of the Fiesta Bowl following the 2016 season, a game Clemson won 31-0. The two teams have only faced off three times, with the Tigers winning all three. On paper, this seasons game looks to feature two teams that are very evenly matched.
After being doubted constantly in the media almost the entire season, the narrative has quickly changed over the last two or three weeks in regards to this Clemson team. After the teams closer than expected win over UNC early in the season, the next few weeks were spent listening to the media ask “what’s wrong with Clemson?” Then it shifted to the Tigers schedule, and how there were no quality opponents on it. Now, all of a sudden the narrative is “nobody wants to play this Clemson team in the semi’s.” Not that Dabo Swinney cares, he’s doubling down on playing the disrespect card, and that’s when he’s at his best.
Smash Clemson pic.twitter.com/fLKGQgROBD
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) December 8, 2019
For Ohio State, this is their first season under head coach Ryan Day. He inherited a team loaded with elite talent like Chase Young and JK Dobbins when Urban Meyer resigned, then went out and snagged former 5 star QB Justin Fields out of the transfer portal from Georgia. This is a very good Buckeye team, so it is highly unlikely we see another blowout.
Three Storylines To Watch
- Trevor Lawrence vs Justin Fields- These two guys were ranked 1 and 2 coming out of high school in the 2018 recruiting class. Both are out of Georgia, and lived about an half hour apart. There were months of debate about who was better, now we get to see them go head to head. Lawrence is battle tested after leading Clemson to the national title last season, while Fields was riding the pine behind Jake Fromm in Athens. Fields has been impressive in his first season as a starter however, throwing 40 TD passes to just 1 interception. We’re all aware of what Lawrence is capable of, and he might be playing his best ball yet over the last several weeks. Both have plenty of playmakers and both are about to see the best defense they have seen all season.
- Clemson WRs vs Buckeyes DB’s- The Tigers boast one of, if not the best group of receivers in the nation. Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross have combined for 107 catches, 1824 yards, and 21 TDs. Keep in mind, this comes having barely played three quarters in most games. Ohio State has the nations second best pass defense, but they have not faced a high powered, explosive offense like this Clemson team has. Let’s be real, most B1G teams just don’t have those kind of offenses. Can their top two corners, 6’1 Jeff Okudah and 6’0 Davon Arnette, keep these receivers in check? No one has yet.
- Chase Young vs Jackson Carman- Young leads the nation in sacks with 16.5, and that is with him having missed two games suspended. It’s likely that sophomore left tackle Jackson Carman is matched up with him a lot during the game. Not letting Young be disruptive throughout will be key. He is the type of player who can alter an entire game if not kept in check. The Tigers OL has been one of the nations best in pass protection, allowing just 1 sack per game, and Carman is a big part of the reason why. Another interesting note, Carman was a 5 star recruit and one of the best offensive tackles of the 2018 recruiting class. Most had him signing with Ohio State, but he surprised everyone by spurning the Buckeyes in favor of Clemson on signing day. Can he handle Young, or will he need some help?