Not a day goes by that Clemson fans don’t hear something about the lack of competition the Tigers have faced this season. While there may be some merit to that, many seem to have lost sight of the fact that a team can play a weak schedule and still be great at the same time.
You can’t make it through a preview of the upcoming Fiesta Bowl without at least one mention of the Tigers being untested and Ohio State being battle tested, so to speak. A look inside the numbers of each team’s opponents tell a different tale however.
As you can see in the graphic below, unlike the Buckeyes, Clemson hasn’t played anyone with a top ten defense. The best defenses they’ve played were Texas A&M (31st) and UVA (40th). Ohio State played Wisconsin (8th) twice, Michigan (12th) and Michigan State (18th). So, just from a numbers perspective, Ohio State’s offense has been put to the test more so than Clemson’s.
When you flip it around and look at the offenses each team has faced, it’s Clemson who has seen the tougher competition. The Tigers faced two teams with top fifteen offenses, Wake Forest (12th) and UNC (14th), while the best offense the Buckeyes saw all season was Indiana (31st). Boston College fielded a better offense than Ohio State saw all season.
So next time you’re reading or watching a preview of the game and you hear about that weak schedule, remember it’s just a part of the puzzle. Telling the whole story wouldn’t fit the narrative.