Clemson beat Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, despite what many Buckeyes fans will tell you
You know we’re in the heart of an offseason when Clemson fans are arguing with another fan base over officiating in a game that happened more than five months ago.
But, hey, when you don’t let it go, you simply don’t let it go.
Ohio State fans maintain the opinion- and voice it daily on Twitter– that Clemson only won the Fiesta Bowl because of officiating that went against the Buckeyes. They point to the 50/50 fumble call that went in the Tigers’ favor and then scour the game looking for missed holding calls and freeze-frames to prove how their point was valid.
While it certainly can be said- and we have- that officiating was questionable in that game, it’s clear that it was bad on both sidelines. Things go against a team over the course of a game, but there seems to be one fact that Ohio State fans conveniently forget.
Something not noted enough in their loss to Clemson
We’ve all beaten to death the fact that the Buckeyes blew a 16-0 lead. We’ve all talked about Justin Fields’ interception at the end of the game when Ohio State had an opportunity to win the game and didn’t.
But what about this fact: This was supposedly the best defense in the Buckeyes’ program history. We heard all about the talent before the game. We heard how elite this unit was and how there simply weren’t any weaknesses. This unit had three players selected in the first-round (Chase Young, Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette). They had another four selected in the draft, making for seven starters selected overall. That was a talented and experienced defense with many upperclassmen.
All they had to do was stop Clemson from driving 94 yards. And they couldn’t.
The best defense in Ohio State’s history- with all of that NFL talent and elite experience- choked when it came time for the rubber to meet the road. The Buckeyes had the lead with 2:55 remaining in the game and had the Tigers backed up inside their 10-yard line.
Any- and I mean any- elite defense would’ve found a way to make a stop against a team they were clearly better than in that situation. But the horrible truth for Ohio State is that they weren’t better than Clemson. The Tigers and Buckeyes matched up relatively evenly and the result was Trevor Lawrence coming up with a legendary drive while all that NFL talent watched helplessly unable to do a single thing to stop him.
Forget all the other peripherals in the game. Forget Justin Fields’ interception. Ohio State had Clemson exactly where they wanted them. The Buckeyes had the Tigers backed up with time dwindling and their elite defensive unit on the field. They simply weren’t able to close out the deal.
Perhaps what we really can glean from the Fiesta Bowl is this: Ohio State had elite talent all over the field, they simply weren’t clutch enough to be a championship-level team when it came time to make the ‘winning plays.’