Ohio State and Clemson will meet on Saturday in a desert showdown for a spot in the national championship game.
As these two teams enter an intriguing matchup on New Year’s Eve, one thing is obvious: Ohio State is the better team and will roll in this game. Don’t believe me? Here are five reasons why.
Ohio State has been one of the most consistent teams this season
Clemson’s road to the playoff is the exact opposite of Ohio State’s; the Buckeyes were probably the most consistent team in college football all year outside of Alabama. No, the Buckeyes weren’t great every week, but theyprobably didn’t play a “bad” game, either. Heck, even in a loss to Penn State, they led for most of the game.
So if the Buckeyes have been consistent all year and the Tigers inconsistent, why should we expect anything to change on Dec. 31?
Clemson’s run game struggled all year, and Ohio State’s run defense is a strength
Overall, the Tigers ranked just 67th nationally in rushing offense -- a season after finishing in the Top 25 in the same category.
That’s obviously bad news, but it's even worse going against a Buckeyes club that has stuffed the run almost as well as anyone in college football this year. They ranked 14th nationally in rushing defense, and did some of their best work against their toughest opponents. Take Michigan for example, which averaged over 220 yards rushing on the season, but were held to just 91 by the Buckeyes.
Ohio State is more battle-tested
Has any team in recent memory been more battle-tested entering the postseason than the Buckeyes? Outside of LSU in 2011, it’s hard to think of one.
The Buckeyes' resume is incredible. They ended up beating the Big 12 champ (Oklahoma) plus two other teams that finished in the Top 10 nationally (Michigan and Wisconsin). Clemson, on the other hand, has no Top 10 wins. Honestly, what was their best victory? A win over a three-loss Florida State team? A Louisville club that floundered down the stretch? Four-loss Auburn?
The Buckeyes have literally faced every type of team -- from power-based Michigan, to spread-out Oklahoma and everyone in between. There is nothing that Clemson will throw at them in the playoff that they won’t be ready for.
DeShaun Watson will face the toughest secondary he’s seen all year
DeShaun Watson simply wasn’t the same player he was last year. I don’t care if he finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting (which was preposterous, by the way), and the stats back me up on this. Watson threw for fewer yards -- on only four fewer attempts -- this season. And while his touchdown numbers were up this year (thanks in large part to the return of Mike Williams from injury), so were his interceptions.
Watson – who was a bit turnover-prone this season – will be facing the best secondary he’s seen all year on New Year’s Eve. The Buckeyes were nothing short of spectacular with 19 interceptions overall and an FBS-best seven interceptions returned for touchdowns. Malik Hooker alone had six picks, including three pick-sixes. Yikes!
You mean to tell me that Watson – a QB who struggled with turnovers all year – is going to be mistake-free against that secondary? Good luck with that.
Urban Meyer is the best big game coach in college football
No one is better at getting his team prepared for big games than Meyer is. His bowl record is nothing short of astounding, as he’s gone 11-2 in the postseason, the second best win percentage ever for anyone who has coached in at least 10 bowl games (for comparison’s sake, Nick Saban is just 10-8 in bowl games overall).
Take the team with the team that has been more consistent all season, that has all the key matchups in their favor, and add in the best coach? It’s a wrap.
The Buckeyes will beat Clemson, to play for the national championship.