There is no sugar-coating Ohio State vs. Clemson in the 2017 College Football Playoff Semi-Final — the Buckeyes simply got boat raced. It also begs the question of should anyone not even winning its own division in college football be anywhere near the college football playoff.
Of course, the answer is it depends. Just like it did this year, but given a scenario just like this one, Ohio State certainly ruined it for everyone else in a 31-0 butt-kicking at the Playstation Fiesta Bowl.
Between the offense’s inability to sustain drives and a defense that gave up over 470 yards it was a disaster from start to finish for the Buckeyes. If it wasn’t the offense going three-and-out, it was Ohio State’s defense getting gashed over and over again.
Nothing could or did go right.
Ohio State gave up 205 yards on the ground, the third time it surrendered 200-plus yards in the rushing game on the season, but the second time in the last three contests.
Even two interceptions from DeShaun Watson couldn’t help given those kind of numbers. Watson finished the day 23 of 36 for 259 yards and one touchdown passing, while adding 57 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground.
Ohio State came in to this game knowing it had to win the battle up front and control the tempo of this game. Instead, its offensive line couldn’t open a hole or pass protect and the defensive line was not able to come up with the big play when needed.
The Buckeyes finished the game with just 81 yards on the ground and 208 total yards on offense. OSU’s offense produced just three first downs on 14 tries on third downs and was worked over by Clemson’s defensive line to the tune of three sacks and 11 tackles for loss.
All of that from a team that many believed was one of the two locks to make the College Football Playoff just about a month ago.
Ohio State tried twice to make it a game in the second half, but a pair of interceptions from J.T. Barrett sealed the deal in this one.
His first INT came as the Buckeyes were marching inside Clemson’s 20-yard line and on a 3rd-and-2. Instead of hitting the sure thing in Mike Weber (who had fumbled and nearly lost on the previous play) out in the flat, Barrett looked for a longer pass and floated it under pressure.
Pressure was the theme of the game for Barrett, and it also contributed to his second interception of the game. He was hit low as he went deep once again, resulting a pick in the end zone that Clemson promptly returned to the OSU 14-yard line.
A personal foul penalty was tacked on, and one play later Clemson took its already monstrous lead to an insurmountable 31-0 final scoreline.
From beginning to end, Ohio State just didn’t have it on New Year’s Eve. Call it a one-off, but this was a game that showcased some of Ohio State’s biggest weaknesses and all credit has to go to Clemson for doing what no team (even Penn State) was capable of doing all season long.
However, from a larger perspective, Ohio State’s loss has big implications on the future of the College Football Playoff.
Penn State shouldn’t have been in over a team it beat and then got boat raced in the CFB Playoff? Okay then.
We’ll see what the Nittany Lions do in the Rose Bowl against USC, but for now OSU’s performance (or lackthereof) in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl certainly wasn’t a ringing endorsement of not letting the game on the field do the talking in the regular season.