College Football Playoff Semifinal Recap: Clemson vs Ohio State (Sugar Bowl)
The Buckeyes Reign Supreme In The Sugar Bowl
The Rose Bowl played in Jerry World was as expected. With Heisman Trophy finalists DeVonta Smith and Mac Jones, the top-ranked Crimson Tide rolled into its fifth CFP championship game in six seasons.
Smith caught three of Jones' four touchdown passes and Najee Harris ran for 125 yards with a high-hurdling highlight in a 31-14 victory over No. 4 Notre Dame in a CFP semifinal Rose Bowl played inside about 1,400 miles from Pasadena, California.
Alabama Back In Title Game
29-23, that was the final score of the 2019 Clemson vs. Ohio State Semifinal. The Buckeyes plastered that throughout the Woody Hayes Center as motivation for an entire year, and that motivation shined through last night as the Ohio State Buckeyes took it to the Clemson Tigers.
Dabo Eats His Words (Context Matters)
Ohio State heard the criticism about their six-game season before the Big Ten title game, and criticism continued after winning the Big Ten Title. Even Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney had an issue with the six-win Buckeyes placing them 11th on his regular-season coaches ballot. Ohio State proved they were worthy of being in the College Football playoff last night, defeating the Tigers 49-28.
Ohio States Defense Rose To The Occasion
The conversation will undoubtedly center around Justin Fields' performance, but the Ohio State defense deserves a lot of credit. The Buckeye defense started the game on a low note allowing the Tigers to attack their defense's edges on two of their first three drives. But the defense would make adjustments, forcing the Tigers to punt on three consecutive possessions before the end of the first half. Ohio States' offense would capitalize on the defense's efforts by scoring TD's on each of their final three first-half possessions. The Buckeyes ended the first half on a 21-0 run and held a commanding 35-14 halftime lead.
Proving the Doubters Wrong
Justin Fields threw six touchdown passes to outshine Trevor Lawrence, and No. 3 Ohio State buried the second-ranked Tigers 49-28 in the Sugar Bowl semifinal Friday night.
''Everybody doubting us just pushed us a little more,'' Fields said.
The Buckeyes (7-0) head to the CFP title game for the first time since the inaugural playoff to face No. 1 Alabama on Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in South Florida. Ohio State beat the Crimson Tide in the semifinals on the way to the 2014 national championship.
In a matchup between the two QB's both from the state of Georgia, Fields gave the Jacksonville Jaguars something to think about with that first pick in the NFL draft. While Lawrence is a near-lock to go No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, Fields outplayed him, going 22 of 28 for 385 yards setting a Sugar Bowl record for TD passes. The most impressive part, Fields did it playing more than half of the game hurt after taking a big hit to his rib area that would force him into the medical tent. But Fields was determined to finish the mission in this game. He was gritty, often grimacing after every throw. If people began to waver on his draft ranking before this performance, they should reconsider.
Trevor Lawrence was 33 of 48 for 400 yards and three total touchdowns in what should be his final game in a Clemson uniform. Lawrence finished his spectacular Clemson career 34-2 with a National Title to his name.
The Emergence of Trey Sermon
Ohio State RB Trey Sermon has been spectacular in his last two games. He broke Ohio State's single-game rushing record vs. an excellent Northwestern defense in the Big Ten title game and picked up where he left off against Clemson, rushing for 193 yds and a TD. He added four catches for 61 yds as a receiver. Trey Sermon has improved his draft stock mightily in recent weeks and has proven to be a solid three-down back.
Ohio State vs. Alabama In Miami January, 11th
Ohio State will face the Crimson Tide for the first time since they beat them in the 2014 inaugural college football playoff semifinal. The 2020 edition of Alabama and Ohio State feature explosive offenses led by elite WR talent and QB play. Both teams have great run games, Alabama gets the edge in the run game with Najee Harris performing at an elite level, but Sermon is not too far behind. The difference might come down to Justin Fields' health and whether the pandemic will rear its ugly head. We should expect many points in a game that will feature a lot of future NFL talent.
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