(A PREVIEW OF THE FIESTA BOWL)
The first question is …. Where will you be at 7:00 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, December 31, 2016?
The second question is …. Will you be wearing something Scarlet? Something Gray? Or both?
Urban Meyer and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney shared the spotlight Friday morning for a final news conference before the second-ranked Tigers take on the third ranked Buckeyes in Scottsdale, Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl. There were pleasantries, yep totally expected! But in final there were only handshakes, polite hugs, before posing for photos in front of the ostentatious trophy that will go to the winner of this year’s Fiesta Bowl – along with a trip to the College Football Playoff Championship game on January 9th.
Since the CFP’s have been implemented into the system of determining a National Title holder this will be the Buckeye’s 2nd appearance, as well as Clemson’s. The Buckeyes, of course, won it all in 2015. While Clemson made it to last year’s championship, only to fall to Alabama (who has appeared in the CFP’s in all three years of its existence).
In head to head competition Clemson leads 2-0.
Perhaps the 3rd try for the Buckeyes will be golden.
CLEMSON ON THE GROUND:
Wayne Gallman currently holds a record for the school – 17 100 – yard rushing games in his career. And the nice thing in the mention of this – is the Tigers are 17-0 in those games.
Gallman is all that they need. He is a strong and fast kid. This season he has accumulated 1,002 yards and has accounted for 15 TD’s. DeShaun Watson, the Heisman’s runner-up this year, has 529 yards and 6 TD’s.
CLEMSON IN THE AIR:
This solely belongs to DeShaun Watson. He has aired out 3, 914 yards with 37 TD’s. His longest was for 65 yards and his QB rating is listed at 154 %.
Is there anything else to say here?
On the receiving end of those passes from DeShaun are three “very” nice receivers: Mike Williams leads the Tigers with 1,171 yards and 10 TD’s. Deon Cain has accounted for 621 yards and 9 TD’s. Jordan Leggett has been good for 637 yards and 7 TD’s.
OSU ON THE GROUND:
Redshirt freshman Mike Weber has 1,072 yards rushing for The Ohio State – along with 9 TD’s, but when games get tight the Buckeyes will always allow QB JT to carry the ball. He has 847 yards and 9 TD’s.
Barrett had 92 yards rushing and two touchdowns in come-from-behind, overtime victory against Wisconsin. He ran for 125 yards and a touchdown in the double overtime win against Michigan. Keep watch!
And, of course, we also have Mr. “Everything” – Curtis Samuel. He has 730 yards on the ground with 8 TD’s.
OSU IN THE AIR:
JT Barrett is our leader here. We’d prefer no one else. In this past season he has nailed down 2,428 yards with 24 TD’s. His longest connection was for 79 yards to – whom else? Curtis Samuel. And JT’s QB rating is listed as 140.8%.
On the receiving end of the game Curtis “Everything” Samuel has caught for 822 yards and 7 TD’s. Noah Brown comes in at 385 yards with 7 TD’s. In the passing game the Buckeyes will move it around, but if five, seven, or so yards can happen, JT will tuck the ball in and take off. The Buckeyes passing game is often spoken little of, but in big games, they certainly can surprise.
MR. “EVERYTHING” SAMUEL: THE Ohio State’s All-American Curtis Samuel is the only player in the country with at least 800 yards receiving (822 on 65 catches) and 700 rushing (730). He has 15 touchdowns (eight rushing and seven receiving). Clemson’s key to stopping the Buckeyes offense is to identify where Samuel is lining up. It’s like playing “Where’s Waldo”. tor Brent Venables said.
“Everybody’s focusing on the quarterback on that little read power play, well, who has Waldo out here on the edge?” Brent Venables, Clemson’s Defensive Coordinator, said.
The Line has the Buckeye has the Buckeyes by 3…..
Ohio State’s offensive line vs. Clemson’s defensive line in pass protection. The Buckeyes have allowed 25 sacks. At 2.08 per game, that ranks 63rd in the nation. Thirteen of those sacks came against Michigan and Penn State. Right tackle Isaiah Prince has been especially inconsistent against the better pass rushers he has faced. The Tigers rank third in the country with 46 sacks, though they get a lot of their sacks from tackles Carlos Watkins (8.5) and Dexter Lawrence (6.5). Prince will likely see a lot of DE Christian Wilkins (3 1-2 sacks).
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Ohio State: Malik Hooker. The All-America safety has six interceptions, three returned for touchdowns. He leads one of the best secondaries in the country and an Ohio State defense that ranked sixth in the nation with 19 interceptions, including seven returned for touchdowns.
Clemson: Deshaun Watson. The junior quarterback and two-time Heisman finalist can dominate a game as few quarterbacks in the country can. He has passed for 3,914 yards and 37 touchdowns. He can run too!
Since 2011, Clemson is 68-13 and Ohio State is 67-12. Only Alabama (75-7) has a better record in FBS. … Meyer is 10-2 in bowl games, including the College Football Playoff championship game, in his career. ….Clemson has five players selected to the AP All-America teams this year. Watson and Watkins made second team and LB Ben Boulware, CB Cordrea Tankersley and Wilkins were third team. … Ohio State had six players receive AP All-America mention: H-Back Curtis Samuel, S Hooker and C Pat Elflein were first-team selections. G Billy Price, LB Raekwon McMillian and P Cameron Johnston made the second team. … QB J.T. Barrett holds the Ohio State record for touchdowns responsible for with 100 (31 rushing, 69 passing). … Watson is responsible for 109 touchdowns (23 rushing, 86 passing) in his career.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Personally I don’t want to predict this one. This is a big game. Clemson is a tough opponent … arguably the best the Buckeyes will face this year .. and that by no means is a slight towards Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Penn State, or Michigan! Clemson is 2nd in the Nation for a reason. But, the Buckeyes are third for a reason too. They are both “damn” good teams. So all I can say is – I am nervous … that’s all I have.
I hope to be reporting of a Buckeye’s win. So stay tuned.