Clemson vs. Ohio State Fiesta Bowl prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Tigers and Buckeyes in Glendale, AZ.
Clemson vs. Ohio State Fiesta Bowl Preview
When: Saturday, Dec. 31 – 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
TV Broadcast: ESPN
Dabo Swinney’s Tigers (12-1, 7-1 ACC) claimed consecutive league titles for the first time in 28 years, and they are in the College Football Playoff for the second straight year after defeating Virginia Tech in the ACC title game on Saturday night. Deshaun Watson had a standout performance against the Hokies, which may have earned him some more Heisman Trophy votes.
Meanwhile, Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes (11-1, 8-1 Big Ten) were able to get into the CFP despite not winning the Big Ten East division. Penn State went to Indianapolis and beat Wisconsin for the league crown, but the Nittany Lions were shut out of the playoff. It’s hard to argue with the Buckeyes’ body of work, though, as they beat Oklahoma on the road and have wins over Wisconsin and Michigan.
These two teams met in the Orange Bowl following the 2013 season, and it was a matchup that saw Tajh Boyd throw for 378 yards and five touchdowns, while Sammy Watkins had 16 catches for 227 yards in a 40-35 Tigers win.
What To Know About Clemson
Can Watson and the Tigers finish the job this time around after falling to Alabama in the national championship game last season? Remember that the Tigers had the Crimson Tide on the ropes before Nick Saban and Co. won another national title. Swinney’s squad has played with fire all season, and it ended up costing the Tigers in the loss to Pitt after they almost dropped a home game to NC State. But since the loss to the Panthers, the Tigers have seemingly been playing with a passion and focus that was unseen throughout much of the year. The loss to Pitt seems to have refocused the group, and it could not have come at a better time. Despite being plagued by turnover issues, Watson alone gives the Tigers a chance to win no matter the adversity they are facing in a game.
What to Know About Ohio State
What type of offense is going to show up for the Buckeyes in this one? The team that put up 62 points against Nebraska, or the one that struggled in a near-upset to Michigan State? The offensive line has had its issues, J.T. Barrett has battled some inconsistency, and Curtis Samuel has not touched the football nearly enough. But when it’s clicking, it’s a unit that can cause even the best of defenses problems. After all, this is still a Meyer Power Spread offense. After working on some things during bowl prep, I would expect the Ohio State offense to look much more in sync than what we saw against Michigan State, Michigan, etc.
Offense: Clemson. The Tigers have a plethora of weapons and can hurt defenses in a variety of ways, while the Buckeyes never quite found their identity this fall.
Defense: Even. There are elite athletes on both units.
Special Teams: Clemson. A special teams play cost Ohio State against Penn State, while Ray-Ray McCloud is an X-Factor in the return game for the Tigers.
Coaching: Ohio State. Meyer has won multiple national titles.
Intangibles: Clemson. The Buckeyes were in the first CFP, while the Tigers were in the second. However, Meyer’s squad is much younger than the Tigers.
Matchup To Watch
Ohio State offensive line vs. Clemson defensive front
This will be the toughest challenge for the Tigers offense since facing the Auburn defense in the season opener, but the real key to this game will be how the Tigers’ defensive line plays against the Buckeyes’ offensive line. The Buckeyes have struggled up front protecting Barrett, and the Clemson defensive front will pose serious problems, especially off of the edge against the OSU tackles. If Barrett is running for his life, even his dual-threat abilities won’t be able to rescue this offense against a speedy and physical Clemson defense.
Spread: Ohio State -3
Over/Under: No Line (as of post)
Clemson vs. Ohio State Prediction
I believe we will see Ohio State rise up to the occasion and give one of its best offensive efforts of the year. But the Tigers want Alabama again, and they believe they have the goods to win the national championship. The difference is that Tigers defensive line, and Swinney and Co. will advance to their second straight title game behind Watson and that ‘D.’
Clemson vs. Ohio State Final Score Prediction: Clemson 30, Ohio State 27
Campus Insiders Staff Picks
Brian Stultz: Ohio State
Dave Miller: Clemson
Jeff Bartl: Ohio State
Rich Cirminiello: Clemson
Robert Judin: Clemson
Jordan Cornette: Clemson