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College Football Playoff Preview: Ohio State vs Clemson

#3 Ohio State and #2 Clemson will meet in New Orleans in the Sugar Bowl on January 1st to decide who will punch their ticket to the National Championship Game. Ohio State vs Clemson… let’s do this! This contest is a rematch of the 2020 Fiesta Bowl where the Tigers bested the Buckeyes 29-23. The Tigers were the underdogs a year ago, but they’ll enter the Super Dome as a 7.5-point favorite on Friday night. 
Allstate Sugar Bowl – Mercedes-Benz Super Dome
January 1, 2021 @ 8:00 PM ET

#3 Ohio State vs #2 Clemson

  • Moneyline: Ohio State (+240) Clemson (-300)
  • Point Spread: Ohio State (+7.5) Clemson (-7.5)
  • Over/Under: 66.5 Points

Underdog Revenge?

Ohio State QB, Justin Fields, has made it clear that he’s ready for one final shot at the Clemson Tigers. The junior will most likely declare for the 2021 NFL Draft because of his first-round potential so this could be the last time we see Fields in a college football game. 
Fields and the Buckeyes haven’t forgotten about last year’s loss in the Fiesta Bowl. The Buckeyes came in as favorites, but Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers sent the Buckeyes back to Columbus empty-handed. 
The Buckeyes only played six games this year because of COVID cancelations. They went 5-0 in the regular season and then beat the Northwestern Wildcats in postseason play to claim the Big Ten Championship. Ohio State didn’t dominate this year, but the team impressed the committee enough to claim the third-ranked spot in the College Football Playoff. 
Justin Fields is the key to the Ohio State offense. Fields relies on the pass, but he is also dangerous with his legs when he gets outside of the pocket. The Buckeyes’ leader on the defensive side of the ball is LB Pete Werner. Werner, who leads the team in tackles, is the heart and soul of the Ohio State defense.

Ohio State vs Clemson: Locked and Loaded

Clemson lost one game this year on the road against Notre Dame who fill face Alabama in the other semi-final matchup. Trevor Lawrence missed this game because of a positive COVID test. Lawrence also missed a home game against Boston College where the Tigers prevailed by a score of 34-26. 
Clemson is talented all over the field, but Trevor Lawrence is the Tigers’ ticket to the National Championship Game. With the junior under center, the Tigers have won every game by at least three scores including the rematch against Notre Dame in the ACC Championship Game.
Lawrence is terrific under pressure and he has one of the quickest releases in the country. The first-team All ACC selection has completed just under 70% of his passes with 22 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions in 2020. 
The Tigers can run the football as well. Senior RB Travis Etienne, who was also a first-team pick in the ACC, is averaging 5.6 yards per carry this season. When Etienne and Lawrence are both clicking, Clemson is nearly impossible to stop.

Ohio State vs Clemson: The Matchup

Ohio State looked awful in the Big Ten Championship Game against Northwestern. However, the team wasn’t even close to full strength because of a COVID outbreak that spread through the program’s facility. This won’t be the case in the Sugar Bowl. The Buckeyes will be at full strength on Friday and they’re coming to New Orleans on a mission to avenge last year’s loss to the Tigers. 
Justin Fields will have success on Friday night. Clemson is very disciplined on the defensive side of the ball, but Ohio State has a better offense than every one of their opponents this season. 
If Ohio State wants to win this game, they’re going to need to force Trevor Lawrence into mistakes. This will have to be done through a vicious pass rush and by disguising coverages. Lawrence has one of the best football IQs in the country. He is very tough to fool, but this will be a necessity for the Buckeyes in the Sugar Bowl

The Buckeyes aren’t strong in the secondary so the front seven will have to pressure Lawrence early and often to support their teammates in the back end. If Trevor Lawrence plays well, I don’t think that Ohio State can beat Clemson.
Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence will turn this game into a shootout, but the Tigers have a slight advantage on the defensive side of the ball. I believe that this will allow Clemson to get the last laugh in the Sugar Bowl.

Ohio State vs Clemson: The Picks

Without Trevor Lawrence under center, Ohio State wins this game. Nevertheless, this won’t be the case on Friday night. I’ve been much more impressed with Clemson than Ohio State in 2020. 
Ohio State has shown flaws throughout the entire year. They have a realistic chance to take down the Tigers, but they’re going to have to earn this victory.
Ohio State will come out swinging. I think this will cause this game to be close at the half, but Clemson will slowly pull away from the Buckeyes in the third quarter. Lawrence will deliver the final blow in the fourth quarter which will allow Clemson to advance to the National Championship Game.
I’m taking Clemson at -7.5 and over 66.5 points.

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