Game 7 Recap: Ohio State 49 – Clemson 28
Ohio State took all of the motivation from last years loss, to last weeks 11th place ranking, and used it to fuel them for this game. This is the game they had fought for the chance to play for a season was all about, and Buckeye fans can now breathe a sigh of relief…for just a second. Enjoy this win. It was as dominant of a performance as we have seen for the Buckeyes and they put on their best effort at the right time. All of the doubters, the haters, the negative comments, it had to just sit and watch in awe as Ohio State pulled off their best game, and no longer are 0 for whatever against Clemson. Buckeyes got the win, and will not add a headstone to the Clemson Graveyard.
Clemson started with the ball after the Buckeyes won the toss and opted to defer. Trevor Lawrence masterfully drove the Tigers down the field with a lot of outside the box plays to try and make the secondary of Ohio State slow them down. It seemed to work, and Lawrence took it himself for 2 yards to finish the touchdown drive. The Buckeyes tried to respond on their first drive, but were stuffed for a 3 and out and were forced to punt.
The Silver Bullets stopped the Tigers to a 3 and out of their own, and the Buckeyes got the ball back at their own 23 yard line after an illegal block pushed then back 10 yards. That did not deter the Buckeyes though, as they drove down the 77 yards in 3 plays after feeding Trey Sermon for a pass and a run, and Sermon took it to the house for a 32 yard run to even the score 7-7
Clemson would not be stopped a second time, and had their own drive of 75 yards on 7 plays for a touchdown, which was capped off by a Travis Etienne run for 2 yard and taking the lead. The Buckeyes though countered and drove down once more for a 75 yard drive which was completed with a perfectly placed ball from Justin Fields to Luke Farrell for an 8 yard touchdown pass. The Buckeye defense stopped Clemson’s next drive and take the 14-14 score into the 2nd quarter.
By this point, the Buckeye offense could not be stopped. They scored on their 3rd straight possession on a 84 yards drive where Justin Fields threw a 17 yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Ruckert and their first lead of the game. The defense only let the Tigers gain 22 yards on their next two possessions, and the offense scored on their next two with touchdown passes to Chris Olave and Jeremy Ruckert again for his 2nd touchdown catch. On the Olave scoring drive, Fields was hit hard by Clemson’s James Skalski, but Skalski was called for targeting after lowering his head and hit Fields in the ribs. Justin seemed to be in pain, but was able to fight through it, and led the Buckeyes to a 35-14 halftime lead.
The second half, the Buckeyes started to settle down a bit more, and Clemson was trying to mount their comeback, but both teams score 2 more times, and the Tigers could never get a chance to get back into the game. The Buckeyes were able to hold onto their lead and finally defeat the Tigers 49-28 in a game where the score was not that close. Trevor Lawrence played most likely his last game in college, and passed for 400 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. The Buckeye defense seemed to have an answer for the run game, and held Clemson to only 44 yards rushing, and Lawrence to -8 yards, a stark difference from last years game.
Justin Fields set records for touchdowns in a bowl game for Ohio State and the Sugar Bowl. He finished with 22 of 28 passing for 385 yards with 6 touchdowns and 1 interception that happened on the first drive of the second half. He also added 42 yards on 8 carries, giving him the most total yardage by a player in Buckeye bowl history with 427 total yards. The offense totaled for 639 yards, which is the most the Buckeyes have gained in any bowl game. It was also more yardage than the Tigers gave up against LSU in last years CFP Championship game.
Trey Sermon continues to impress and with Teague out for this game, he got the lion’s share of the carries. He had 31 carries for 193 yards and touchdown. He also contributed to the passing game with 4 catches for 61 yards. He fought for his yardage, and his 524 yards is the most of any running back in Ohio State history in a 2 game stretch. Trey Sermon seems to be on a different level since the Michigan State game, and wanting to leave his mark in Ohio State history.
Outside of Fields, no one had a bigger redemption story than Chris Olave, who took the blame for last years outcome. He finished the game with 6 catches for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jameson Williams had his biggest game with 3 catches for 62 yards and a touchdown. Garrett Wilson had a quiet game with 2 catches for 52 yards. The Tight Ends stole the show though with 3 total touchdown catches. Jeremy Ruckert had 3 catches for 55 yards an 2 touchdowns. Luke Farrell had 2 catches for 11 yards and a touchdown.
Ohio State controlled the game with a balanced offense and keeping Clemson off of the field. They had 34 minutes of possession time. This game plan should be effective too against Alabama, who looks just as formidable as ever. Buckeyes should enjoy this win. This was an emotional win. And now, they need to get ready for Alabama. Ohio State has the talent to compete, and they just need to refocus. They are one game away from winning a National Championship, and that is all this team ever wanted when they fought for a season.
The turning point was less about a play and more of a string or series. Ohio State scored 5 touchdowns on 5 straight series, for drives for 75 yards or longer. This was the difference from this years game from last years where Ohio State was not able to score in the redzone and convert some of the field goals they settled for into touchdowns. They shut out the Tigers in the second quarter and took a 35-14 halftime lead and never looked back. Both teams would score 14 points in the second half, and the Tigers defense never had an answer for the Buckeye offense.
Star of the Game
Justin Fields. He was nearly perfect all game even after getting hurt. He played his best game against the Tigers last year, and doubled down on it this year. His 6 touchdowns were an Ohio State and Sugar Bowl game record for touchdowns, and after the targeting hit, he threw for 4 of the 6 touchdowns, with 2 of those 4 being for over 45 yards. Trey Sermon deserves a lot of credit too, and is the honorable mention, but Fields put on a show, and is hopefully able to get healthy again in time for Alabama.
The Buckeye’s left little doubt that they belonged in the playoff after a huge win against Clemson, and will now need to refocus for Alabama for a chance to win their 9th national championship. Alabama beat Notre Dame 31-14 in the Rose Bowl game, and showed off their offensive weapons. This next game could be a shoot out, but hopefully a good one to watch. The Buckeyes have opened as a 7 point underdog already.
Ohio State (7-0) will face Alabama (12-0) in the CFP National Championship Game on January 11th at 8pm.
Clemson’s (10-2) season comes to a close.
Photo credit: USA Today’s FT