The Clemson Tigers will take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl. Who has the advantage coming into the matchup?
The No. 3-ranked Clemson Tigers will take on the No. 2-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in the CFB Playoff semifinals for a chance to advance to the National Championship.
The Tigers are listed as 2-point favorites, courtesy of the Action Network, and will be looking to make it back to the National Championship game for a fourth time in the last five seasons.
Who has the advantage coming in? Let’s take a look at our breakdown for Clemson vs. Ohio State.
When Clemson has the ball…
The Tigers will be facing the best defense that they’ve seen all season. The same can be said about Ohio State.
The Buckeyes have the nation’s best pass-rush and they’ve been extremely good all season at getting to the passer and bringing pressure, even from the second-level.
Ohio State also has a talented set of defensive backs, but the Tigers have one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in Trevor Lawrence to go along with the best group of wide receivers in the CFB Playoff, led by Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross.
Look for Clemson to get the ball out quick, be creative in Travis Etienne’s carries and allow the speed advantage on the outside to carry them through the game.
Advantage: Slight to Clemson
When Ohio State has the ball…
These two are going to be trouble for the Tigers and there’s no doubt about it. Fields is a quarterback that just doesn’t make mistakes in the passing game. He doesn’t want to throw into tight coverage and will look for opportunities to take off and run the ball, especially when the pocket collapses.
Clemson is clearly the best defense that the Buckeyes will have faced, but the Tigers have struggled at times at covering the middle of the field and not allowing quarterbacks to scramble for yardage- especially up the middle. This was most notable with Bryce Perkins in the ACC Championship game.
We’re giving Clemson the slight advantage, though, and it’s for one main reason: Brent Venables.
Venables has had multiple weeks to prepare for the Buckeyes and clean up those issues. I will not pick against him until I’m proven wrong.
Advantage: Slight to Clemson
Ohio State has a competent kicker in Blake Haubeil (83.3 percent on the year), while the Tigers have an inconsistent kicker in BT Potter.
The Buckeyes have an experienced and solid punter in Dru Chrisman (43.8 yards per punt) while Will Spiers has struggled at times, though he is averaging 42.5 yards per punt this season.
The big intangible that balances this out, though, is the experienced coaching staff that Clemson football possesses versus the newness of the moment for Ohio State.
We’re going to give Ohio State a slight advantage in this area, just because of the special teams, but it’s very close.
Advantage: Slight to Ohio State
Clemson has the ever-slightest advantages on offense and defense, while Ohio State has a slight advantage in the special teams department.
This game could very well come down to a turnover or a momentum-shifting play. Both of these teams are extremely talented and, in my opinion, are the two most complete teams in the nation.
It will be interesting to see how Clemson’s offensive line battles Ohio State’s defensive line, in particular Chase Young. It will be fun to see how Trevor Lawrence attacks that Buckeye secondary. I want to see how Brent Venables schemes for the Ohio State offense.
There are plenty of questions coming in, but Dabo Swinney excels in these moments.
Score: Clemson 35, Ohio State 31