The last time the Clemson Tigers faced the Ohio State Buckeyes was in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl, which was also a College Football Playoff semifinal. On Saturday, the two teams will meet once again in the Fiesta Bowl, the first showdown between the two FBS powerhouses since that 2016 confrontation. The game at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, serves as a CFP semifinal with the winner going on to face the victor of the Peach Bowl between Louisiana State University and Oklahoma earlier in the day.
Ohio State will also be looking for a degree of vindication. In that Fiesta Bowl three years ago, the Tigers steamrolled the Buckeyes 31-0, inflicting the first bowl game shutout on Ohio State since 1921.
For Clemson, who come in at 13-0, the game will mark their fifth straight appearance in college football’s Final Four, and a win puts the Tigers in position to win the first back-to-back titles since the current playoff system began in 2014. But Ohio State, winners of the first-ever College Football Playoff, returns to the semifinals for the first time since the devastating Fiesta Bowl defeat on New Year’s Eve in 2016, according to Bleacher Report.
College Football Geek goes inside the numbers of the Clemson Tigers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Fiesta Bowl showdown, in the video below.
Las Vegas oddsmakers are certainly not expecting a rerun of the 2016 Fiesta Bowl blowout, according to USA Today. Though the CFP selectors rate them the third seed to Ohio State’s No. 2, the Tigers come in as narrow, 2.5 point favorites.
The game features a quarterback matchup that Ohio State defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley called “the future of the NFL,” as Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence faces longtime friend and rival Justin Fields of Ohio State, Yahoo! Sports reported.
Neither quarterback has lost a game as a college starter. Lawrence has compiled a 24-0 record, while Fields has won all 13 of his starts. Both put together eye-popping seasons in 2019. Fields tossed an incredible 40 touchdowns against just a single interception, while Lawrence threw 34 TDs with eight interceptions.
All of Lawrence’s picks came before October 19. Since that date, the 20-year-old has fired off 23 touchdowns without a single interception for a mind-boggling passer rating in that span of 224.9, according to Sports Illustrated.
In fact, since he threw his eighth interception early in the season, Lawrence has thrown the ball 169 straight times without giving up a pick. That ties his own Clemson school record, which he set in his freshman season.
The Clemson vs. Ohio State showdown kicks off at 6 p.m. MT, and will be televised nationally by ESPN.