For what it’s worth, fans, players and coaches of the Ohio State Buckeyes can look at their 31-0 loss against the Clemson Tigers in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl and say ‘That was last year’.
The Ohio State Buckeyes headed into their matchup with the Clemson Tigers with hopes of executing their gameplan and earning a second trip to the College Football Playoff National Championship in three postseasons.
That wasn’t the case.
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson was intercepted twice, but made more than enough plays to outweigh his mistakes. Watson completed 64 percent of his passes and accounted for three touchdowns (two on the ground and one through the air).
Tiger’s receiver Mike Williams had 69 of his 96 yards receiving in the first half. Williams had a 37-yard reception on the drive that put Clemson up 3-0 and a 26-yard reception on the following drive that ended up giving the Tigers a 10-0 lead.
Ohio State’s starting quarterback J.T. Barrett never even received a snap inside the opponent’s red zone. A 64-yard rush by Curtis Samuel in the fourth quarter got the Buckeyes to the Clemson 16-yard line, but a false start penalty the next play put them outside the 20 and they never made it that far down the field again.
Barrett had a rough day with only 127 yards passing, two interceptions and negative yards rushing on the evening.
Clemson’s defensive line deserves plenty of credit. Defensive tackles Carlos Watkins and Dexter Laurence did a great job of controlling the middle of the line of scrimmage.
Defensive end Clellin Ferrell showed off his speed when Barrett would try to elude defenders. DE Christian Wilkins also made an impact as his size and athleticism were on full display, making it difficult for the Buckeye’s signal caller to set his feet to throw the ball downfield.
Every play is important to account for, but this statistic is very telling of how dominant Clemson’s defense was on Saturday night. Without including the 64-yard rush from Samuel, the Buckeyes as a team rushed 22 times for only 24 yards. That’s a rough day to say the least.
As mentioned earlier this week, starting running back Mike Weber was hoping to get “A lot more opportunities”.
In the first half of the game, Mike Weber had one rush for five yards.
In the postgame press conference Urban Meyer was told his team didn’t run the ball much in the first half and asked about whether or not he thought his team could run the ball on a regular basis against the Tigers.
Meyer responded saying
That was not the game plan. I think we kind of got taken out to the game plan a little bit. But no, that was our plan, to be balanced. We didn’t follow the plan.
It was all Clemson on the scoreboard for four quarters, but a pivotal point in the game for the Tigers was a highlight-reel run by Watson for 33 yards on second and 12 with under four minutes remaining in the second quarter that led to another touchdown and a 17-0 lead going into the half.
The second half was more of the same (on the scoreboard). Ohio State turned the ball over three times (a Mike Weber fumble and two J.T. Barrett interceptions) and the inevitable happened.
So what’s next for Buckeye nation?
Only time will tell.
Center Pat Elflein summed up things after the game when he said
It sucks going out like that.