We have our College Football Playoff Final Four. Here’s the first look and analysis of the Fiesta and Chick-fil-A Peach bowls.
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
Saturday, December 28
8:00 ET, ESPN
University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson
Let’s just put the pressure on this game from the start.
It’s a national championship-caliber game and the best College Football Playoff semifinal matchup in the six years of this thing.
Oh sure, there was some buzz about an unbeaten Clemson playing an unbeaten Notre Dame last year, but this is different. No one seriously thought the Irish could win the national title, and this year, either one of these two could pull it off.
The NFL talent across the board will keep scouts busy for months, but it all starts with future franchise quarterback vs. future franchise quarterback. Depending on which service you like, the No. 1 recruit of 2018 was either Justin Fields or Trevor Lawrence, and they’re both doing more than fine.
But they have a ridiculously amazing supporting cast around them.
Both offenses were dynamic and explosive. Both defenses dominate on third downs. Both offensive lines have taken over games this year, both receiving corps are full of players ready now for the next level, both star running backs – Travis Etienne for Clemson and JK Dobbins or Ohio State – will be high draft picks in your leagues soon enough, and both quarterbacks have been absolutely brilliant.
So what’s the difference?
The Ohio State offensive line is a bit better – at least it’s better tested – and Fields is the more dynamic runner of the two superstars.
Clemson never turns the ball over, and Ohio State has a bit of a fumbling issue.
Both teams control the clock when they need to. Both teams don’t have massive problems with penalties.
Clemson is No. 1 in the nation in total defense. Ohio State is No. 2
Clemson is No. 1 in the nation in pass efficient defense. Ohio State is No. 2.
Ohio State is No. 1 in the nation in scoring offense. Clemson is No. 4.
Ohio State is No. 1 in the nation in first downs on offense. Clemson is No. 1 in the nation in fewest yards allowed on defense.
And it goes on from there.
The biggest difference, though, is experience. Clemson players are used to the College Football Playoff world, and most of these Ohio State players weren’t starting for the 2016 team that got rolled by the Tigers 31-0 in the Fiesta Bowl.
Clemson hasn’t played anyone in the final College Football Playoff top 25, though, and Ohio State has whacked Wisconsin twice, beat Penn State, Michigan, and took out Cincinnati early in the season.
Again, it’s the best semifinal matchup in the College Football Playoff era. Considering that no No. 1 seed has ever won this thing, this just might be the national championship.