If there’s one thing Clemson football fans should take away from the Playstation Fiesta Bowl, it should be the heart that the Tigers showed.
It’s easy to get caught up in the amount of success the Clemson football program has seen over the past few years.
The Tigers have now advanced to four National Championship games in the last five seasons and have won two of the last three National Championships, with an opportunity to make it back-to-back with a win over LSU in a couple of weeks.
However, the Clemson football team showed something Saturday night that should be recognized and appreciated by Tiger fans: They showed the Heart of a Champion.
For the first quarter and a half of the Fiesta Bowl, Clemson was beaten around. The Tigers were dominated along the lines of scrimmage, they gave up a couple of big plays defensively and they looked shocked in many respects because of the way they were getting handily beaten.
It would’ve been really easy for those guys to give up. It would’ve been really easy for the team to lose heart- as many Clemson football fans did- but they never hung their head. They never got down. They never gave up.
They continued to fight.
Despite Ohio State sizable lead and advantage, Clemson chipped away and gained momentum following a targeting call that allowed the offense to remain on the field. Trevor Lawrence came up with what may have been the biggest play of the game on the ensuing drive when he took the ball 67-yards for a touchdown, making the game just a two-point affair heading into halftime.
Through the entire second half, Clemson was in an all-out war.
The Tigers and Buckeyes exchanged blows. There were plenty of momentum-shifting points in favor of both teams, but Clemson played with confidence and executed down the stretch.
The epitome of the heart the Tigers showed can be summed up in two major points in the game late in the fourth quarter:
- The go-ahead, 94-yard drive
- Nolan Turner’s game-winning interception
The Tigers didn’t allow the pressure to get to them. Though Ohio State had them backed up late in the game, Trevor Lawrence led the Clemson football offense right down the field. The Tigers scored in just four plays and the adversity wasn’t enough to knock them out.
Though the defense allowed Ohio State to advance all the way back down to their own 23-yard line on the ensuing and final drive of the game, Nolan Turner came up with the interception when the Tigers needed it most.
Turner had been beaten on several occasions throughout the game, but the coaches continued to trust him and he came through when it mattered most. Turner showed heart and was rewarded for that ‘never give up’ attitude.
It’s easy to get caught up in how great the game was or the amount of success that Clemson football has had, in general, but more so than anything else, Tiger fans should appreciate the ‘heart of a champion’ that this team fought with over the course of this match-up.