The Fiesta Bowl will showcase possibly the best bowl game matchup in college football. The Ohio State Buckeyes will face the Clemson Tigers. With both teams possessing duel-threat game changers at the quarterback position, this will deem some incredible plays from both teams. It’s almost the perfect match-up and should be a good one.
Ohio State Buckeyes- The Buckeyes offense has not been the consistent explosive unit as past teams but has gotten the job done. Quarterback J.T. Barrett has been solid as both a passer and runner. The running game did not have that stud runner we are used to seeing with Ohio State but rather done by committee between Mike Weber, Curtis Samuel and Barrett. All three will be needed against Clemson. On the receiving end, all purpose threat Samuel has been the go to guy. He alone won’t be enough though, someone else will need to step up (Noah Brown and/or Dontre Wilson). Most importantly, will the offensive line be able to protect their quarterback?
Clemson Tigers- The Tigers offense has been pass heavy this season and will need more balance if they want to reach their goal. Quarterback Deshaun Watson has been very good, except for the 15 interceptions. He will have to use his legs more against Ohio State. The running game has been pedestrian at best with running back Wayne Gallman being ineffective and slowed by injury. If they want to beat the Buckeyes, he will need to find his mojo.
Clemson Tigers- Their defense had a hiccup (vs Pittsburgh) during the season but has been really good overall. The impact players to watch are defensive tackle Carlos Watkins, linebacker Ben Boulware and cornerback Cordea Tankersley. Their ability to apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks is key to a. Teams have had a hard time effectively running the ball against them. The back end of the defense has not been as good giving up some big plays. Can Ohio State exploit this chink in the armor?
Ohio State Buckeyes- The Buckeyes defense has been dominant all season. They are led by linebacker Raekwon McMillan, safety Malik Hooker, linebacker Chris Worley, defensive end Tyquan Lewis and cornerback Marshon Lattimore. They have an abundance of speed all over the field. They pressure the quarterback with great efficiency. The defensive backs can cover a lot of ground and will need to against the Tigers passing attack. If they can make Clemson one dimensional, it could be a long game.
Clemson Tigers- Dabo Swinney is all about toughness and respect. He has built a strong program at Clemson when many doubted he could. Swinney is a risk taker, which his players love. Bowl success has eluded him though with a 5-4 record.
Ohio State Buckeyes- Urban Meyer has created a juggernaut at Ohio State. He’s even better during bowl season. He is simply one of the best college coaches ever.
Prediction: I’m going with Ohio State. Given the time to prepare, Coach Meyer will come up with a game plan that will halt the Tigers running game and create some turnovers in the passing game. The Buckeyes will use a balanced attack on offense to keep Clemson guessing and create some big plays.