College Football Playoff Preview: Clemson vs. Ohio State

Story posted December 31, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Alex Rocco

The rematch we have all been waiting for has finally arrived as the Clemson Tigers take on the Ohio State Buckeyes. Last season, we saw these two teams face off in the playoffs and Clemson came away victorious 29-23. Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields threw an interception in the end zone with just around 30 seconds left in the game.

Clemson Tigers

How they got here:

Clemson got embarrassed in last year’s National Championship, losing 42-25 to LSU. This year, the Tigers come out seeking revenge.

Head coach Dabo Swinney has led his No. 2 Tigers to a 10-1 record with their only loss coming to No. 4 Notre Dame. Clemson has an extremely high-octane offense averaging 45 points per game and their defense is excellent allowing around just 18 points per game.

Throughout the regular season, Clemson played three games against ranked opponents - two against Notre Dame and one against Miami. In those games, the Tigers average around 39 points and they allow around 25 points per game.

They enter this game after defeating No. 4 Notre Dame 34-10 in the ACC Championship. Clemson’s offense was dominant with 541 total yards, 219 of those coming on the ground. They held a great running team in Notre Dame to just 44 rushing yards and 263 total yards.

X-Factors:

Trevor Lawrence: Lawrence is one of the most hyped-up college football prospects since Peyton Manning.

Lawrence missed two games after testing positive for COVID-19, however still managed to throw for 2,753 yards, 22 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Lawrence would also add 211 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

Travis Etienne: Etienne has arguably been the nation best running back this season as on 158 carries he has rushed for 882 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is also a great pass catcher out of the backfield as this season he has 44 catches for 524 yards and two touchdowns.

Amari Rodgers: Rodgers has stepped up big time as star receiver Justyn Ross has missed the entire season due to spinal surgery. Rodgers has racked up 966 yards on 69 catches as well as finding the endzone seven times.

Bryan Bresee: Bresee was the No. 1 recruit in 2020 and he has played great this season as he has recorded four tackles-for-loss and three sacks.

James Skalski: Skalski is the vocal leader for this team and in just eight games this season he has been all over the field, registering 32 tackles, two tackles-for-loss, two pass deflections and one and a half sacks.

Derion Kendrick: Kendrick has been lockdown this year with five pass deflections along with one interception.

Ohio State Buckeyes

How they got here:

Ohio State was devastated after its crushing defeat to Clemson in the semifinals last year and just like Clemson, the Buckeyes seek revenge as well.

Head coach Ryan Day has led his No. 3 Buckeyes to a 6-0 record despite having major issues with COVID-19. The Buckeyes have an explosive offense, averaging around 43 points per game and a solid defense allowing around 21 points per game.

Despite only playing six games, three of those games came against ranked opponents in Penn State, Indiana and Northwestern. In these matchups, they average around 34 points per game while giving up around 23 points per game.

They come into this game capturing the Big Ten title after beating No. 15 Northwestern 22-10. Running back Trey Sermon set a school record with 331 rushing yards and he would find the endzone twice.

X-Factors:

Justin Fields: Fields has had an excellent season. In just six games, he has passed for 1,521 yards, 15 touchdowns and just five interceptions. On the ground, Fields has an impressive 274 yards and five touchdowns.

The one criticism for Fields has been his play against ranked teams. Against ranked teams, this season Fields has completed 64% of his passes for 732 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions.

Chris Olave: Olave missed the Big Ten Championship and the Buckeyes offense was extremely flat. Olave is a difference-maker, as this season he has 36 catches for 528 yards and five touchdowns.

Garrett Wilson: Wilson has been great this season and he has racked up 38 catches, 621 yards and five touchdowns. Wilson will have to dominate if the Buckeyes want to win.

Zach Harrison: Harrison has been solid this season recording four and a half tackles-for-loss and two sacks.

Pete Werner: Werner is the heart and soul of this defense and he has been all over the field this season tallying 37 tackles, two and a half tackles-for-loss, two forced fumbles and one sack.

Shaun Wade: Wade has been solid this season despite getting torched by Penn State’s Jahan Dotson and Indiana’s Ty Fryfogle. Wade on the season has 20 tackles, three pass deflections and two interceptions.

Prediction: Clemson 31, Ohio State 28

 

Alex Rocco is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at afr5646@psu.edu.