By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
On Saturday night, #3 Ohio State Buckeyes faces #2 Clemson Tigers in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. The game will be on ESPN at 7 pm EST.
The Buckeyes are 11-1, while the Tigers are 12-1. Ohio State is 4-1 on the road this season, while Clemson is 6-0.
This game is a part of the New Year’s Six. In addition, it is the second game of the two College Football Playoff semifinals.
“We’ve set out to be right here where we are,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “We look forward to playing on the big stage.”
The winner of this game and the winner of the match-up between #4 Washington Huskies and #1 Alabama Crimson Tide will face each other in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship. The game will be on ESPN at 8:30 pm EST from Raymond James Stadium on Jan. 9, 2017.
This is the second meeting all-time between the two teams. The previous meeting took place Jan. 3, 2014 when the Tigers won 40-35 over the Buckeyes.
“It was a little different then, because I feel like Braxton Miller can throw better than J.T.,” Clemson safety Jadar Johnson said. “I don’t think (Barrett) throws that well. I’m not saying he can’t throw at all. He definitely can put it out there. But I definitely feel like Braxton Miller was a better thrower.”
This game is a match-up between star quarterbacks DeShaun Watson – the two-time Heisman Trophy finalist — and J.T. Barrett. Watson said recently if he did not attend Clemson that he would have went to Ohio State because of Urban Meyer.
“We have played better quarterbacks than him,” Johnson said, referring to J.T. Barrett. “I’m not taking anything away from him. I don’t think he is a bad player. He is definitely a good player, but he does not stand out as one of the best quarterbacks that we have played this year.”
The Tigers played in one neutral site on Dec. 3. They defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship game. Clemson won 42-35 at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
The Buckeyes did not play in a neutral site game prior to the bowl game.
The Buckeyes are 23-25 in their previous 49 bowl games. The school had to vacate its 2011 Allstate Sugar Bowl win, 31-26, over the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The win was vacated on July 2011, including 11 other wins from their 2010 season, after the NCAA found that there was program irregularities and violations. Former head coach Jim Tressel was dismissed during the scandal that included players Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas.
Ohio State has won their last four bowl games. They have not lost a bowl game since losing 40-35 to the Tigers in the aforementioned game.
This is the Buckeyes eighth appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. They are previously 5-2 in the seven games.
They are actually playing in back-to-back Fiesta Bowls. On Jan. 1, 2016, they defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 44-28.
Under Meyer, the Buckeyes are 6-1 in bowl games.
Clemson is 20-19 in their previous 39 bowl games. They lost their last bowl game — the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship game — 45-40 to the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Tigers have not won a bowl game since the 2015 Capital One Orange Bowl as a part of the College Football Playoff Semifinal. They defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 37-17 at Sun Life Stadium (now Hard Rock Stadium) in Miami Gardens, Fla.
This is the second bowl game for Clemson at the University of Phoenix Stadium. In fact, it’s the only two times they have played a bowl game at this facility.
Under Swinney, the Tigers are 5-3 in bowl games. He did have a four-game bowl win streak from the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl through the 2015 Capital One Orange Bowl.
Ohio State has won their past five games. They have not lost a game since Oct. 22 when they lost 24-21 to the Penn State Nittany Lions.
The Buckeyes needed overtime to defeat the Wisconsin Badgers. They needed a two-point conversion to defeat the Michigan State Spartans.
Curtis Samuel also scored on a 15-yard run to defeat the Michigan Wolverines 30-27 in double overtime in Nov.
“It takes a few years off your life expectancy,” Ohio State offensive coordinator Ed Warriner joked about the tight games this season. “It’s good. You grow from that, and you gain confidence that in critical situations your players can make plays.”
Clemson has won their last three games. They have not lost a game since Nov. 12 when they lost 43-42 to the Pittsburgh Panthers on a game-winning Chris Blewitt field goal.
J.T. Barrett leads the Buckeyes attack with 2,428 passing yards. He has 24 touchdown passes and five interceptions.
Mike Weber has 1,072 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Curtis Samuel has 822 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
DeShaun Watson has 3,914 passing yards. He has 37 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions.
Wayne Gallman has 1,002 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. Mike Williams has 1,171 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.
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