The Buckeyes and also Tigers meet on Friday night in brand-new Orleans in the university Football Playoff semifinal in ~ the sugar Bowl. This will be the 5th time the schools have challenged each other, with Ohio State still looking for their first win over the Tigers.

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after ~ a season that experienced Ohio State play just six games, the Buckeyes impression the university Football Playoff selection committee enough to earn a 2nd straight expedition to university football’s last Four. There’s no inquiry that when healthy and balanced the Buckeyes are one of the four best teams in the nation, some simply felt Ohio State wasn’t worthy of a spot because the Buckeyes were just able to play six gamings this year.

A look at back

Last time Ohio State took the ar was simply under 2 weeks ago in the big Ten Championship Game. The Buckeyes were lacking nearly two dozen football player heading into the game because of confident COVID-19 tests, contact tracing, or injuries. Crucial players like wide receiver chris Olave, linebacker Baron Browning, and punter Drue Chrisman were every unavailable for the game against the Wildcats, however all room expected come be ready to walk for the street Bowl.

As if those inactives weren’t enough for Ryan day to transaction with, quarterback Justin areas suffered a sprained thumb against Northwestern, and Master Teague III left the video game with one injury. The ns of Teague intended Trey Sermon would need to shoulder more of the fill for the Buckeyes, and also the Oklahoma transfer was much more than approximately the task. ~ rushing for 271 yards in the second half, Sermon’s 331 rushing yards damaged Eddie George’s school document of 314 rushing yards, which George set back in 1995 against Illinois. The 271 rushing yards in the second fifty percent also overshadowed Ezekiel Elliott’s school document of 243 rushing yards in a half.

For the 2nd straight year, an undefeated Ohio State team trailed their opponent in the huge Ten Championship Game. And also just prefer last year, the Buckeyes shut their adversary out in the second half to secure their spot in the university Football Playoff. Ohio State would go on come beat Northwestern 22-10, marking their 4th straight large Ten Championship game win, and also their 39th overall large Ten title.

Series at a glance

Now the Buckeyes will certainly head to brand-new Orleans to take it on a acquainted foe on new Year’s Day. Ohio State will certainly square off with the Clemson Tigers, who beat the Buckeyes 29-23 in the Fiesta Bowl. Friday’s meeting will certainly be the 3rd time the schools have met in the university Football Playoff, and also the fifth time overall. Clemson has actually won all 4 of the ahead meetings with Ohio State. The just other teams to play at least four games versus Ohio State and hold a winning record are USC, Stanford, and Alabama.

Painful memory

Ohio State jumped the end to a 16-0 lead in the first half of last year’s university Football Playoff semifinal against the Tigers before a controversial targeting speak to on a Shaun walking hit come Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence rotate the birds of the game. After thinking they had initially required the many tigers to punt, the penalty no only offered Clemson a an initial down, but also deprived the Buckeyes the the services of Wade for the remainder of the game. Clemson would certainly go on to cap off the drive v a Travis Etienne touchdown, providing the tigers their an initial points of the game.

The other contact by the officials that was greatly scrutinized came through Clemson holding a 21-16 lead with much less than 5 minutes left in the third quarter. That looked together if Jeffrey Okudah had actually stripped Clemson broad receiver Justyn Ross the the football, and safety Jordan Fuller had actually picked up the fumble and returned it for the touchdown. The officials feeling otherwise though, ruling the happen incomplete after review.

The Buckeyes would certainly go on to strike beforehand in the fourth quarter to take it the lead once Justin Fields discovered Chris Olave for a 23-yard touchdown. Ohio State would hold the command for practically 10 minutes before Lawrence discovered Etienne for a 34-yard touchdown pass. The Buckeyes were able gain the football under to Clemson’s 23-yard line with 40 seconds to go before Ohio State saw their season finish when Justin fields was picked turn off for the 2nd time in the game.

Fields finale?

It’s common knowledge that there isn’t lot time left in the Justin fields era at Ohio State. The inquiry is whether there will be one game left or two games. Because that the second straight season, areas was called both huge Ten attack Player of the Year and large Ten Quarterback that the Year. Fields has thrown for 15 touchdowns this year, advertise his Ohio State complete to 56 passing touchdowns, tie him with Joe Germaine because that third-most in college history. One much more touchdown will tie fields with Bobby Hoying, yet J.T. Barrett’s school record of 104 pass touchdowns is the end of reach because that the small quarterback.

Take ‘em come church

Ohio State definitely owes their latest huge Ten location to Oklahoma move running earlier Trey Sermon, who exploits against the Wildcats were highlighted previously in the preview. The Buckeyes were able to find plenty of success on the ground critical year against the Tigers, with J.K. Dobbins rolling up 174 yards and also a touchdown top top Clemson. After his performance versus Northwestern, suppose to see Sermon receive most of the carries. Don’t sleep on master Teague if he’s healthy, though. Teague has something come prove ~ rushing for just nine yards on 7 carries against the Tigers last year.

Dynamic duo

Before Sermon’s monster game versus Northwestern, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave had actually been the main source of violation for Ohio State this year. Wilson and also Olave are both averaging end 100 yards receiving every game, making lock the only teammates to typical triple digits this season. Wilson and Olave have actually each posted 4 100-yard receiving games this year.

Redemption song

Ohio State doesn’t quite have actually the very same pop when one component of the duo is missing, as shown by the big Ten Championship Game. There is no Olave, the Buckeye passing attack wasn’t able come gain any kind of traction. The junior broad receiver will certainly be raring to go on Friday, no only since he was required to miss the large Ten Championship Game, but likewise because that the way last year’s Fiesta bowl ended. Through three an ext receptions, Olave will certainly reach 100 captures in his Ohio State career.

Trench warfare

The most necessary area Ohio State has to win versus Clemson is the battle in the trenches. Clemson has produced havoc because that opposing offenses, registering 44 sacks and 103 tackles because that loss this year, both of i beg your pardon rank second nationally. The Buckeyes have actually one of the ideal offensive lines in the country, they’ll simply need anyone healthy, which no the case versus Michigan State and also Northwestern. Facility Josh Myers is a finalist for the Rimington Award, if guard Wyatt Davis has been named a first-team All-American because that the second year in a row.

Everybody eats

On the other side that the football, Clemson needs to be relieved castle won’t have to attend to Chase Young this year. The doesn’t average the many tigers won’t challenge some push from the Buckeyes. Haskell Garrett was named a first-team All-American through CBS Sports and also Pro Football emphasis just months after being shot in the face. Protective tackle Tommy Togiai leader the Buckeyes with 3 sacks this year, Jonathon Cooper has included 2.5 sacks, and Zach Harrison has actually two sacks ~ above the season.

The Baron

Ohio State is walking to require their an elderly linebackers to action up and steady the defense against Clemson. The Buckeyes will obtain a rise with the return of Baron Browning, who missed the Northwestern game. While leading tacklers Pete Werner and Tuf Borland will look to keep the activity in front of them, Browning has the speed and athleticism to sluggish down Travis Etienne. Browning can additionally keep eye on quarterback Trevor Lawrence, lot like Malik Harrison did critical year.

Wade has actually been waiting

There’s no question where the weak area top top Ohio State’s defense has actually been this year. The Buckeye second has to be shredded at times this year. Even with part uneven play, Shaun Wade to be still named a first-team All-American this year. Wade has two interceptions ~ above the season, including a pick-six against Indiana. Much like Olave, Wade knows he has unfinished service to take treatment of after ~ his time in critical year’s video game was cut brief after the targeting call on his hit on Lawrence in the very first half.

Ready come breakout

The x-factor in the an additional for Ohio State is safety and security Josh Proctor. The small played among the best games that his Buckeye career against Northwestern, picking turn off a pass and also dropping one interception that most likely would’ve led to a touchdown because that Proctor. Ohio State has actually yet to uncover the steadying force at safety choose they’ve had actually the last few years with Jordan Fuller, however there’s no inquiry that Proctor is boosting as the sees an ext playing time.

A playoff fixture

They might as well adjust the surname of the university Football Playoff to the Clemson football Playoff. After lacking out top top the fun in the first year of the playoff, the Tigers have made the four-team playoff in each of the last six years. Clemson has actually won 6 playoff games, made four title games, and also earned two championships, every one of which are tied because that the many in college football with Alabama. Aside from the Tigers and also Crimson Tide, no other school has actually won more than two playoff games.

Clemson’s worrying bowl streaks

For all of the success Clemson has had actually in bowl games over the years, the Tigers will certainly be make the efforts to exercise some brand-new Orleans demons. One bowl Clemson hasn’t been able to victory is the street Bowl. The many tigers last showed up in the Sugar key in 2018, shedding to Alabama 24-6 in the university Football Playoff semifinal. In its entirety Clemson is 3-8 in new Orleans, through their last appearance in the Crescent City comes 12 months ago in the 2020 college Football Playoff Championship Game versus LSU. Clemson fell to Joe Burrow and also the tigers 42-25 in ~ the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The tigers will additionally be looking to snap a five-game new Year’s job bowl losing streak. The last time Clemson showed up in a new Year’s Day bowl was earlier in 2018 in the Sugar bowl loss to Alabama. The last win on brand-new Year’s Day for Clemson came all the means back in 1990 once they beat Illinois 30-0 in the hall of call Bowl.

Terrific T-Law

Heisman Trophy critical Trevor Lawrence will certainly be making his fifth start in the college Football Playoff, to win his first three starts prior to the Tigers lost to LSU critical year. The lose is the only blemish ~ above Lawrence’s 34-1 record as a beginning quarterback. Also with the loss, Lawrence still has yet to litter an interception in a college Football Playoff game, throwing for 1,167 yards and eight touchdowns in 141 pass attempts.

Lawrence started nine games this year for Clemson, missing contests against Boston College and also Notre Dame after trial and error positive because that COVID-19. The small passed because that 22 touchdowns this year, and added seven scores top top the ground. Not only will three much more touchdown passes tie Deshaun Watson’s school document of 90 passing touchdowns, 302 more passing yards will certainly make Lawrence the third Clemson quarterback to pass for 10,000 yards in his career. Lawrence has thrown three touchdown passes or more in 18 games throughout his Clemson career, through the many tigers winning all 18 the those games.

Clemson’s offensive coordinator Tony Elliott will miss the Sugar bowl after trial and error positive because that COVID-19 earlier this week. The positive result would be a little more concerning for Clemson if lock didn’t have actually a quarterback choose Lawrence in the fold. Quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter will relocate up come the push box to contact the plays, and while there probably be a couple of early hiccups, suppose Lawrence and his place coach to loss into a rhythm quite quickly.

Etienne’s last act

As if having to address Lawrence wasn’t difficult enough, Clemson additionally forces enemies to gameplan for to run Travis Etienne. The Paul Hornung Award finalist is the only FBS player with 850 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving this year. Etienne is 118 rushing yards far from becoming the first Clemson running earlier with three seasons of at the very least 1,000 yards rushing. The senior has 4,920 job rushing yards, and also if he gets 80 much more rushing yards that would end up being the very first ACC running earlier to with 5,000 yards rushing, and the 23rd player to reach that mark in FBS history.

A-one Amari

Ohio State will get a little bit of a break because they won’t have to deal with wide receivers Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross this year. Higgins has moved on to the NFL, when Ross experienced a spinal injury which has sidelined him because that the season. Stepping up together Lawrence’s favourite target this year has been Amari Rodgers, who has actually 69 catches for 966 yards and seven scores this year. If Rodgers add to 34 more receiving yards come his season total, he’ll become the 12th Clemson recipient to with 1,000 yards in a season.

The Buckeyes did view Rodgers critical year in the Fiesta Bowl, but he no the very same receiver together they’ll watch on Friday. Rodgers suffered a take it ACL in the spring last year, and also somehow to be able to return to the field versus Texas A&M early on in the season. Even though Rodgers to be healthy enough to play, his fast turnaround time didn’t permit him to totally recover from the injury, something he has been maybe to execute this year in the offseason.

Joining Rodgers at vast receiver is Cornell Powell, who has actually hauled in 45 captures for 743 yards and also five touchdowns this year. If the Tigers space able to acquire into the red zone, Ohio State is walk to need to keep tabs ~ above tight finish Davis Allen, who has just 14 catches on the season, with four of them going for touchdowns. In a way, Allen is prefer Clemson’s version of Jeremy Ruckert.

Clemson’s colossais

Clemson has done a great job of maintaining their quarterbacks clean this year, enabling just 18 sacks in 11 games. A acquainted name to Ohio State fans lining up in ~ left tackle because that the many tigers is Jackson Carman. The junior was rated as the best collegiate prospect coming the end of high school, and also originally to be an Ohio State target before he signed through Clemson. After earning third-team All-ACC honors last year, Carman relocated up come second-team All-ACC this year.

If the Buckeyes desire to put some push on Lawrence, they’ll most likely need to execute so on the right side the the offensive line. Best tackle Jordan McFadden and also right guard will certainly Putnam are both sophomores. Even though the duo doesn’t have as lot experience together Carman, left security Matt Bockhorst, and center Cade Foster, together the five kind a strong unit.

Sack attack

Clemson doesn’t have actually a huge star on the defensive line favor Ohio State did with Chase Young critical year. Instead, the Tigers have actually a bunch of guys who can create pressure. The Tigers have actually 44 sacks on the season, but the many tigers don’t have a player with an ext than 4 sacks ~ above the season.

Fabulous freshmen

If you want to identify the ideal player on the Clemson defensive line, that would need to be freshman protective end Myles Murphy, who has actually a team-high 4 sacks this year. Even an ext impressive is Murphy has compelled three fumbles this year, i m sorry is the most by a player under Dabo Swinney, and also the most by a Clemson freshman since Ed McDaniel in 1988.

Joining Murphy as a freshman pressure on the defensive line is Bryan Bresee. The defensive tackle has 4 tackles for loss, three sacks, and also a required fumble so much this year. Through the mix of Murphy and Bresee make noise early on in your careers because that the Tigers, Clemson is walking to continue being a pressure on the protective end for the foreseeable future.

Bruise Brothers

Leading Clemson in tackles this year is Baylon Spector, who has actually 67 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks this year. Spector has merged with James Skalski, with Swinney naming the mix the “Bruise Brothers”. Skalski did miss out on some time previously in the season through a groin injury, but should be healthy for Friday’s game. The Tigers room going to need Skalski as close to 100% as feasible since backup linebacker Jake Venables was lost for the season after enduring a broken arm against Pitt.

Nolan & friends

There is no concern who the quarterback of the Clemson an additional is. An elderly Nolan Turner is 2nd on the team with 61 tackles this year, and also the safety has actually three the Clemson’s 13 interceptions this season. Turner earned first-team All-ACC honors, along with cornerback Derion Kendrick. As well as Turner and also Kendrick, expect to watch the Tigers shuttle in a variety of defensive backs, because there is lot of of talent ~ above the roster, and Swinney and also defensive coordinator Brent Venables shot and maximize the talent by obtaining a variety of players involved.

Summary

This game is so difficult to call because of how various the seasons were for both teams. Clemson was able to play practically a full schedule, if Ohio State only played six games in a schedule the featured a number of stops and also starts. Will certainly the 13 days between the huge Ten Championship Game and the Sugar key for Ohio State to iron out some of the inconsistencies? who will be ago for this game that was lacking against Northwestern? this are simply a few of the numerous questions that room weighing top top the psychic of Buckeye Nation.

There’s no question that Ohio State can enhance Clemson’s talent. An ideas shouldn’t be a trouble for the Buckeyes, either. Together if shedding to the Tigers last year no hard enough to stomach, Dabo Swinney is throwing fuel top top the fire with few of his comments about Ohio State no belonging in the college Football Playoff. When Ryan day is definitely going to usage this to fire increase his team, that can’t enable Swinney’s disrespect to get his team overhyped.

This is a game that is going come be one more one the comes under to the wire. Trevor Lawrence it s okay the nod in the quarterback battle, however Justin fields can still bring it. The difference is, Wilson and also Olave this year can be what Higgins and also Ross were for Lawrence critical year. Through the quarterbacks essentially canceling each other out, this game could come down to the running game.

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Ohio State knows they are going to have their hands complete trying to slow down Travis Etienne, who is among the many dynamic football player in ACC history. What continues to be to be seen is if Trey Sermon’s insane performance against Northwestern a one fight wonder, or will certainly Sermon get even stronger v the Buckeye attack line at full strength?

As enticing as it would certainly be to take it Ohio State here, an additional heartbreaking lose looks to it is in in order for the Buckeyes. The an additional isn’t rather as solid as we have actually seen in recent years, which needs to been one area Clemson will certainly target early and also often. Even though he has said his thumb is fine, the injury areas suffered in the huge Ten Championship video game is concerning. If in which method the injury gets re-aggravated early on on, it might make for a lengthy game, since Clemson can focus an ext on the run. The Buckeyes save pace, they simply don’t have quite enough at the finish to top Clemson.