4. Clemson ran into a buzzsaw
There were a few signs this season that suggested this might not be the Clemson team that we all expected it would be.
Just as it looked like Clemson was jelling at just the right time, as it turned out, Notre Dame probably was just very good and that ACC Championship win was a wee bit of a mirage.
But this isn’t about Clemson.
The 49-28 loss was about Ohio State putting on a performance for the ages and Clemson just so happened to be in the way.
This was still obviously a phenomenal team, but it never had its full receiving corps from the start. It sure adapted just fine, but it could’ve been a whole lot better, the banged up defensive line could’ve had a stronger day, the running game was never quite as nasty this year as it should’ve been, Travis Etienne didn’t have the rushing season like he was supposed to, and …
It’s the College Football Playoff. Clemson got there yet again after winning yet another ACC Championship in another amazing season. Sometimes great teams get trucked in this thing.
Ohio State was on the business end of a Clemson destruction in the 31-0 loss in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl. Alabama got hit with a two-piece in the 2019 CFP National Championship a year after drop-kicking Clemson 24-6 in the semi-final.
These things go in cycles, but the trick is to keep getting there. Sometimes things bounce and go the right way, and sometimes one elite program faces another elite program that has it all working.