College Football Playoff: Ohio State to play Clemson in Fiesta Bowl
Finally, the official rankings are out. There wasn’t much drama as to who the top four teams in the College Football Playoff would be entering Sunday afternoon, but the question was where would the teams be slotted?
LSU ended up jumping Ohio State for the top spot, which means the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes will play the No. 3-ranked Clemson Tigers. Back in 2017, the two teams met in the College Football Playoff semifinal and the Tigers shutout the Buckeyes 31-0.
When: Ohio State and Clemson play in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 28.
Where: Glendale, Arizona
We all know about the Ohio State Buckeyes and what they’ve done this season. But, what about Clemson? The Tigers were supposed to be a juggernaut of a No. 1 overall team coming into the season and all they did was go 13-0. So, why are they ranked No. 3 in the country?
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Part of it is what Ohio State and LSU have accomplished this season. But, Clemson did what it was supposed to. Again, it’s 13-0.
The Tigers are led by 6-foot-6 sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence has thrown more interceptions this season (8) compared to last year (4), but his completion percentage (68.8%) and passing touchdown numbers (34) are up. Lawrence proved to be the real deal a season ago, and he’s done the same in 2019.
Aside from Lawrence slinging the ball, he has an All-American tailback he can hand the ball off to in Travis Etienne. Etienne has rushed for 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, though those numbers are down from a season ago (1,658 and 24). Regardless of the statistical regression, Etienne is a stud. Make no mistake about it.
Lawrence’s pass-catchers are highlighted by junior wide receiver Tee Higgins. Some believe he is the best pass-catching prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. He’s that good. Higgins, at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, has caught 52 passes for 1,082 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Defensively, Clemson is no slouch either. The Tigers have offensive firepower. Everybody knows that. But, can the defense be as good as it was during its championship run a season ago?
As a team, Clemson is allowing 10.6 points per game. That is tops in college football. Yards allowed? Number one as well. That said, people want to point to Clemson’s weak strength of schedule.
While that may be the case, we’ll finally get to see what the Tigers are all about when they face the Buckeyes in late December.
No. 1 LSU-No. 4 Oklahoma
When: LSU and Oklahoma play in the Peach Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 28
Where: Atlanta, Georgia
LSU was at No. 2 according to the committee the past few weeks but jumped Ohio State to take the top spot when the rankings mattered most. The Tigers can thank their win over then-ranked No. 4 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game for that.
LSU gets to play Oklahoma, who seems to be the “other” team thrown into this playoff. All the talk is about the top three, but the Sooners aren’t getting as much love. Maybe it’s because Oklahoma lost one game this season. The other three haven’t.
Both the Tigers and Sooners won when it counted, though, as both teams are conference champions in the SEC and Big 12, respectively. Both teams also have quarterbacks who have transferred from other schools that are now starting in LSU’s Joe Burrow — from Ohio State — and Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts — from Alabama.
Both teams’ defenses have been questioned at one point or another during 2019, so a shootout could take place in Atlanta.