2016 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl Prediction, Ohio State vs. Clemson Game Preview, History, Scores
Three reasons why you should watch the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl between Ohio State (11-1) vs. Clemson (12-1), why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.
Date: Saturday, December 31st
Game Time: 7:00 pm
Venue: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
– Contact/Follow @PeteFiutak
Scroll down for the video preview and bowl history
The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness (1 best-40 worst): 1 out of 40
Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
– There’s no playing around here when it comes to being on the big stage. Of course, this is new and exciting for several Ohio State players who didn’t play a big role in the national championship two years ago, but this is where the program is supposed to be. It’s hardly a shocker for the Buckeyes to be playing in the College Football Playoff, and Clemson was just here – it was planning on being in this game from the moment the Alabama national championship confetti started flying on the University of Phoenix Stadium turf less than a year ago.
There’s no first-time jitter thing happening. This will be the first ever CFP matchup between veteran playoff coaches and programs, and they’re both acting like it. There’s never a “just another game” thing happening when it comes to the College Football Playoff, but all that periphery stuff about how the teams will handle the big stage and big moment shouldn’t matter a lick.
It’ll just be all about two powerhouses battling in the best college football matchup of the 2016 season – at least so far.
– Lamar vs. Deshaun was fantastic, and J.T. vs. Baker was special, and now … it’s another phenomenal quarterbacking matchup that might turn out to be the best of the season, with all due respect to the Louisville-Clemson shootout.
At the very least. Deshaun Watson vs. J.T. Barrett is a special showdown of two elite quarterbacks who’ve carried their respective teams at times. There might be plenty of stars on both teams and all sides of the ball, but these are the main men.
But for the winner, at least getting to a national championship would take his status to a whole other level.
For all Watson has done so far – he’s cemented his legacy as one of college football’s all-time greats – he’s two wins away from being included in other all-timer discussions. He didn’t win a Heisman, and he didn’t win a national title yet – not his fault on either count – but he’s a two-time ACC championship quarterback, and if he wins this game, he’ll be the first two-time starting College Football Playoff QB, too.
Barrett hasn’t even been in the Heisman discussion – totally not fair – and he hasn’t been the starter in a Big Ten championship. But he was one of the key parts of the puzzle in the 2014 season title run before getting hurt, and now he’s the main man for an offense that had to replace the best running back currently in the NFL, along with most of the other key parts.
Either way, the winning quarterback of this game will get most of the credit – at least among the players – for being his win.
– Urban vs. Dabo could turn into a thing. Urban Meyer is an incredible 61-5 in his five years at Ohio State with a 24-0 start before losing the 2013 Big Ten Championship. That was a wee bit of a stunner, but not as much as losing the 2014 Orange Bowl in a terrific 40-35 shootout against Dabo’s Clemson team.
Since the loss, Meyer is 37-3 with a Big Ten title, a national championship, a Fiesta Bowl blowout win, and now a second College Football Playoff appearance in the three years.
Meanwhile, since that Orange Bowl win over the Buckeyes, Swinney is 36-4 with two ACC championships, a national title appearance, and a second straight run to the College Football Playoff. With four bowl wins in a row, and six straight double-digit win seasons, Swinney has grown into one of the elite of the elite college football coaches.
Beat Meyer for a second time, and his place in the world gets moved up a notch. Win the national championship, and that’s a whole other level.
Here’s Why Clemson Will Win The PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
– Even this late in the year, Ohio State is still trying to figure it all out. There are two ways to look at the Buckeyes. On the one hand, they were a flukish special teams play away from being unbeaten. On the other, they lost to a great Penn State team that lost two games, struggled to get past Wisconsin, was a few millimeters away from losing to Michigan, and was a two-point conversion away from probably losing to Michigan State.
Of course, all teams have their sidestep-the-landmine moments – Clemson’s came against NC State – but in a lot of ways, the Buckeyes didn’t get better as the year rolled on, even with the back-to-back 62-3 wins over Nebraska and Maryland.
Throw in the extra week off – it’ll be over a month since Ohio State played a game – and this might not be the razor-sharp team it’ll need to be.
– Ohio State’s defensive front can be pounded on. How did Clemson win the Orange Bowl in last year’s College Football Playoff? It was more physical than Oklahoma, with the O line wearing down the Sooner front four in the heat. Michigan tried to do that against the Buckeyes, but couldn’t seem to break free. However, Michigan State got tough from the start, ran for 207 yards, and came within an eyelash of pulling off the win. Wisconsin ran for 236 yards in the OT loss, dominating the first half by blowing the Buckeyes off the ball.
Clemson’s passing game is the fun part of the attack, but the running game carries its weight, doing a great job over the final three games after the Pitt loss of committing to the ground and controlling games when they had to.
Don’t expect a lot of big runs, but look for plenty of effective ones giving Watson several easy third down opportunities. This isn’t a finesse team.
– If Clemson isn’t more talented than Ohio State, it’s at least close. When was the last time the Buckeyes faced a team with the NFL-caliber size, speed, and athleticism of Clemson? Yeah, they beat that team in the Sugar Bowl two years ago, and this Clemson team might not be quite as strong as that Alabama one, but in terms of the starting 22, it’s not that far off.
A case could be made that Watson is the second-best quarterback OSU has faced in the Meyer era behind Marcus Mariota, and it could be argued that the 1-2 receiving punch of Mike Williams and Artavis Scott is the best in the Bucks have dealt with in that five-year run, too.
Wayne Gallman is an NFL starting running back, Jordan Leggett is an NFL starting tight end, Cordrea Tankersley and Jadar Johnson are pro defensive backs, and Carlos Watkins leads a D line that’s at least as good, if not better than Ohio State’s.
Basically, Ohio State can’t win this game because it has the better players.
Here’s Why Ohio State Will Win The PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
– Deshaun Watson will give up picks. You can’t make a mistake against the Ohio State secondary – ever.
Much has been made about the Alabama NOTs – non-offensive touchdowns – but Ohio State has made a living off of their 19 interceptions. S Malik Hooker alone has three-pick-sixes – including a huge one to turn around the Michigan game – while Jerome Baker all but ended the Oklahoma game with his interception return for a score. In all, OSU has taken seven picks to the house,
The secondary will get burnt its share of times by the elite Clemson receivers, but Watson has thrown 15 picks on the year with three against both Louisville and Pitt, and two against Florida State. He went without giving away an interception in just four games, and he’ll likely give up at least one, likely two, against the secondary that leads the nation in pass efficiency defense.
– The good quarterbacks threw well against the Clemson secondary. The Tiger defensive backs destroyed the mediocre passing games, and while they weren’t lit up by anyone but Pitt, the were thrown on by the good QBs on the slate.
Lamar Jackson, Virginia Tech’s Jerod Evans, Florida State’s Deondre Francois, NC State’s Ryan Finley and Troy’s Brandon Silvers all threw for more than 200 yards with those five – along with Pitt’s Nathan Peterman – accounting for ten of the 12 touchdown passes thrown on the Tiger D.
J.T. Barrett is another one of those good quarterbacks. And when you throw well against Clemson …
– The Tigers struggle to put away teams that can throw. It’s not a coincidence. The six teams that came up with 200 passing yards or more accounted for the five of the six close calls and the one loss for Clemson.
Auburn is the one team that didn’t throw all that well and came close to beating the Tigers, but that’s Auburn – it’s pretty good. Everyone else who threw for over 200 yards either beat Clemson – Pitt – or lost by a touchdown or less. Ohio State isn’t a lock to get the passing game going – it was a disaster against Michigan State, Michigan and Indiana – but Barrett has to try.
You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
– You have to get over the brand name. Ohio State is Ohio State and Urban Meyer is Urban Meyer – they’re the co-gold standard – if there can be such a thing – along with Nick Saban and Alabama, but Clemson is right there. There might not be the national titles of those other two power programs, but at the moment under Swinney, you could make a case that it’s the third-best program going, or at least it’s in the top five.
But you become Urban Meyer and Ohio State, and Alabama and Nick Saban, by winning games like this.
– Just how much will the extra time off matter, one way or another? While Clemson was playing Virginia Tech for the ACC championship, Ohio State got to kick back and groove on its resume, getting a little more rest. Or will it be a little mushy and off? The result will dictate the narrative, but as everyone is trying to figure out the best way to handle a team in the College Football Playoff era, this will be referenced down the road.
– We’re overdue for a really good College Football Playoff semifinal. Three of the four have been duds so far, and it’ll be a little bit of a shocker if Alabama doesn’t roll in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. This one has the potential to be special, so set the bar high.
There’s a ton of NFL talent across the board, and again, the coaches, programs, and players are used to dealing with the big game atmosphere. It’s not going to be a blowout – it can’t be, can it?
In the first two years of the College Football Playoff, the late game has seen the eventual national champion. Alabama is good, but don’t be shocked if that holds true for a third straight year. Ohio State and Clemson are just that terrific.
Super. So Who’s Going To Win The PlayStation Fiesta Bowl?
At the end of the day, Urban Meyer just doesn’t lose games like this.
He blew it in the 2013 Big Ten title game against Michigan State, and he forgot to feed Ezekiel Elliott in last year’s game against the Spartans, but when he loses a really, really big game, it usually takes something special.
He and his coaching staff aren’t necessarily better than the Clemson coaches, but he’ll get the big plays out of his defense, his offense will control the clock and the tempo in the second half, and it’ll be a whale of a game with the loser crushed at the missed opportunity.
Demand nothing less than a classic, with Ohio State struggling, but coming through on the final, heart-stopping scoring drive.
Ohio State 27, Clemson 23
Ohio State -3, o/u: 59
ATS Confidence: 0
5: Your New Year’s Eve chances to score in your favorite bar
0: Your New Year’s Eve chances to score after covering a College Football Playoff semifinal
Must See Rating: 5
5: New Year’s Eve: Defected In The House, Ministry of Sound, London
0: New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Special Co-Host Kathy Griffin
Fiesta Bowl History, Results
Jan. 1, 2016 Ohio State 44 Notre Dame 28
Dec. 31, 2014 Boise State 38 Arizona 30
Jan. 3, 2013 Oregon 35 Kansas State 17
Jan. 2, 2012 Oklahoma State 41 Stanford 38 (OT)
Jan. 1, 2011 Oklahoma 48 Connecticut 20
Jan. 4, 2010 Boise State 17 TCU 10
Jan. 5, 2009 Texas 24 Ohio State 21
Jan. 2, 2008 West Virginia 48 Oklahoma 28
Jan. 1, 2007 Boise State 43 Oklahoma 42 (OT)
Jan. 2, 2006 Ohio State 34 Notre Dame 20
Jan. 1, 2005 Utah 35 Pittsburgh 7
Jan. 2, 2004 Ohio State 35 Kansas State 28
Jan. 3, 2003 Ohio State 31 Miami 24
Jan. 1, 2002 Oregon 38 Colorado 16
Jan. 1, 2001 Oregon State 41 Notre Dame 9
Jan. 2, 2000 Nebraska 31 Tennessee 21
Jan. 4, 1999 Tennessee 23 Florida State 16
Dec. 31, 1997 Kansas State 35 Syracuse 18
Jan. 1, 1997 Penn State 38 Texas 15
Jan. 2, 1996 Nebraska 62 Florida 24
Jan. 2, 1995 Colorado 41 Notre Dame 24
Jan. 1, 1994 Arizona 29 Miami 0
Jan. 1, 1993 Syracuse 26 Colorado 22
Jan. 1, 1992 Penn State 42 Tennessee 17
Jan. 1, 1991 Louisville 24 Alabama 7
Jan. 1, 1990 Florida State 41 Nebraska 17
Jan. 2, 1989 Notre Dame 34 West Virginia 21
Jan. 1, 1988 Florida State 31 Nebraska 28
Jan. 2, 1987 Penn State 14 Miami 10
Jan. 1, 1986 Michigan 27 Nebraska 23
Jan. 1, 1985 UCLA 39 Miami 37
Jan. 2, 1984 Ohio State 28 Pittsburgh 23
Jan. 1, 1983 Arizona State 32 Oklahoma 21
Jan. 1, 1982 Penn State 26 USC 10
Dec. 26, 1980 Penn State 31 Ohio State 19
Dec. 25, 1979 Pittsburgh 16 Arizona 10
Dec. 25, 1978 Arkansas 10 UCLA 10
Dec. 25, 1977 Penn State 42 Arizona State 30
Dec. 25, 1976 Oklahoma 41 Wyoming 7
Dec. 26, 1975 Arizona State 17 Nebraska 14
Dec. 28, 1974 Oklahoma State 16 BYU 6
Dec. 21, 1973 Arizona State 28 Pittsburgh 7
Dec. 23, 1972 Arizona State 49 Missouri 35
Dec. 27, 1971 Arizona State 45 Florida State 38