The Ohio State Buckeyes face the Clemson Tigers in their much-anticipated College Football Playoff semifinal matchup in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Eve. Here are the over/under predictions for the game:
1.5 Interceptions Thrown by Deshaun Watson
Over. One of the major storylines leading up to this game has been Deshaun Watson’s propensity for throwing interceptions paired with the Ohio State secondary’s ability to create turnovers. While Watson will surely try to “be careful” in this game, it’s not like he was trying to turn the ball over in his previous games this year and he still threw 15 interceptions in 13 games. Expect Ohio State’s opportunistic defense to be aggressive and haul in at least two Deshaun Watson pass attempts on Saturday night.
300 Passing Yards for Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson averaged a hair over 301 passing yards per game this season. He had as many as 580 in their loss to Pittsburgh and as little as 152 in a blowout win over South Carolina State. In what is expected to be a close game, Watson will likely keep throwing the ball to attempt to put points on the board against Ohio State. Clemson will likely try to set up a balanced attack running and throwing the football so don’t expect 500+ yards, but 300 is attainable for the Tigers’ junior QB. Over.
3 Sacks for the Clemson Tigers
Under. With over a month to prepare for the Clemson defense, their ability to get after the quarterback will not be a surprise for J.T. Barrett and the Ohio State offensive line. Although Clemson averaged 3.54 sacks per game this year, Barrett is a mobile quarterback that can scramble when under pressure. The Buckeyes will also likely feature a balanced attack to keep the Clemson pass rush at bay. Expect J.T. Barrett to feel the pressure at times, but ultimately get sacked less than three times on Saturday evening.
100 Rushing Yards for Wayne Gallman
Under. Although Wayne Gallman averaged 77 yards per game on the ground this season, he’s averaged over 110 yards per game over his last three contests. The Ohio State defense, however, has only allowed two 100+ yard rushers this season (Corey Clement and L.J. Scott). Gallman will be a factor in the game as Clemson will look to be multi-dimensional on offense, but he will not reach 100 rushing yards in the Fiesta Bowl.
150 Yards from Scrimmage from Curtis Samuel
Over. Despite only averaging 127 yards from scrimmage during the regular season, expect Curtis Samuel to surpass that total on Saturday against Clemson. The Ohio State coaching staff recognizes that he’s the most talented playmaker they have on offense, so Samuel will likely see plenty of touches as the Buckeyes attempt to keep up with Clemson’s explosive offense. He can make an impact on the ground and through the air, so he’ll have plenty of opportunities to reach 150 yards.
75 Rushing Yards for J.T. Barrett
J.T. Barrett is averaging 70.5 rushing yards per game this year. Against Michigan State and Michigan the last two weeks of the year, Barrett averaged 115 yards on the ground. We’ve emphasized the need for Ohio State’s rushing attack to have balance all year long. With Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel alongside him in the backfield the majority of the time, expect Barrett to utilize those weapons more often than running the ball on his own. We’ll see J.T. Barrett keep the ball and make some plays on his own, but if he can keep his rushing total in the 60-70 yard range it will be a better sign of success for the offense as a whole. If it creeps up around 100 yards, it most likely means his targets aren’t open or the Clemson defense is disrupting Ohio State’s game plan.
With all that said, J.T. Barrett will have under 75 rushing yards on Saturday night as he utilizes the playmakers around him more often than he takes off and runs the ball.