If you’ve spent any time on social media over the past year, then you know that the Ohio State fan base still hasn’t gotten over the loss to Clemson in last year’s Fiesta Bowl.
The way that game played out has been well-documented. The griping about the officiating in that contest will probably never end.
However, it isn’t just the fans that seemed to have failed to get over that game. Listening to some of the Buckeyes players over the past couple of days, it’s apparent they haven’t either.
While that is certainly understandable, it is possible that Ohio State is becoming a little overly motivated. It’s almost starting to sound like borderline obsession.
“It’s everybody,” Buckeyes OL Wyatt Davis on Monday. “I mean, we had a whole winter offseason program dedicated to this game.”
A whole winter offseason program dedicated to this game? A game that you had no idea would take place?
Make no mistake, the Buckeyes have every reason to come into this game with a chip on their shoulder. From how they lost last season, to listening to all the people saying they shouldn’t even be in the playoff, to Dabo Swinney ranking them No. 11 in his final coaches poll.
“Clearly what we’ve seen all week and I’m sure all of you have seen this,” Davis also said. “We’re going into this game not respected at all so that has a lot of motivations as well.”
If you are a member of the Ohio State family, all of those are legitimate reasons to be motivated. But most teams come into a season with more than a goal of beating one specific team. Especially a team with national title aspirations. Even quarterback Justin Fields said last years game was their entire motivation this season.
“It’s pretty self-explanatory that game hurt us a lot last year,” Fields said on Monday. “So that has kind of been our whole motivation this offseason. Just getting the chance to play those guys again.”
Is it possible that the Buckeyes have become to focused on Clemson? Remember early on in the Swinney era when Clemson would put so much emphasis on the South Carolina game every season and then come out tight and not play well?
This situation is starting to closely resemble those situations. It will be interesting to see how the Buckeyes channel all this energy. This energy that has been building for a full year now and appears as if it’s about to come to a head.