Fiesta Bowl Recap: 3 things we learned from Clemson vs. Ohio State

The Clemson Tigers made easy work of Ohio State 31-0 in the College Playoff Semifinal. Here are three things we learned from their victory.

The Clemson Tigers pitched another blowout victory in just the second year of the College Football Playoff. Last year, they knocked off Oklahoma, this year, it was Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes. The ACC has looked good this postseason. So far, the conference is 8-3 in bowl games.

The Tigers handed Meyer his first shutout loss in 15 years as a head coach. In fact, Ohio State has lost by a total of 35 points in their five previous losses. It is Ohio State’s worst loss since 1978 when they lost 35-6 to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson led the way for Clemson on offense. He had 259 passing yards, a passing touchdown, and two rushing touchdowns to control the day. Running back Wayne Gallman had 18 carries for 85 rushing yards and a touchdown as well.

The Tigers defense pitched their third shutout of the 2016 season. They made the Ohio State Buckeyes look average all game long and now they’re on their way to the National Championship game looking for redemption.

Here are three things we learned from the Fiesta Bowl.

Dec 31, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

3 Clemson defense is only comparable unit to Alabama defense

The Clemson Tigers defense looked great in the Fiesta Bowl against a very good Ohio State offense. The Tigers allowed just nine first downs all game, holding the Buckeyes to 3-for-14 on third down conversions. They recorded 10 tackles for loss and three sacks in the victory.

The Clemson defense forced three turnovers and allowed just 215 total yards of offense. The Buckeyes ninth-ranked scoring offense in the FBS was shut down all game long. The Buckeyes came in averaging 258 rushing yards per game. They were held to a season-low 88 rushing yards as a team in the Fiesta Bowl.

It was a statement game for the Clemson defense, who heard all about quarterback J.T. Barrett’s skill leading all the way up to the game. They answered the call and then some in the Fiesta Bowl and stacking up next to Alabama’s defense, they look pretty even. Clemson defensive end Carlos Watkins set the single-season record for Clemson with 10.5 sacks.

Dec 31, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Sports

2 Ohio State’s offense is a work in progress

The Ohio State Buckeyes were exposed in this game, especially on offense. They looked flat in the first half, trailing 17-0 but came out even flatter in the second half.

J.T. Barrett threw 19-for-33 with 127 passing yards and two interceptions. The Buckeyes offense was really exposed in the passing game for their lack of a deep threat. As a team, they rushed for 88 yards on 23 carries. When the running game isn’t going, the result is usually a loss.

For a team that scores 42.7 points per game offensively, it was a shock to see how nonexistent the Buckeyes offense was in the Fiesta Bowl. Running back Curtis Samuel did have six carries for 67 rushing yards, however.

The offensive line for Ohio State struggled as well. They gave up three sacks and the Clemson Tigers front four was in the backfield all game long with 10 tackles for loss. It will be back to the drawing board for Ohio State next season. They’ll need to get some receivers and offensive linemen on the recruiting trail to keep up with others.

Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

1  Clemson vs. Alabama II will be epic

Quarterback Deshaun Watson played well, throwing for 259 passing yards and a touchdown. He ran 57 rushing yards and two touchdowns as well. Watson did throw two interceptions but going into the game against Alabama, limiting turnovers should be his focus.

In last year’s National Championship, the Tigers fell just short in their 45-40 loss last year to Alabama. Clemson had 550 total yards of offense in last year’s game but a turnover in the game proved to be the difference.

This year, they’ve got an improved roster but so does Alabama. The National Championship game on January 9 will be a hard-fought defensive battle. The team who makes the first mistake will probably come out with a loss.

With Clemson peaking at the right time, they look poised and ready to face the Alabama Crimson Tide. Their second meeting will be an epic battle for the National Championship.

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