College Football Playoff

(3) Clemson Tigers at (2) Ohio State Buckeyes

Clemson: 28. That’s the number of games they’ve won consecutively. But here’s what’s crazy though: You barely hear about it. That’s one thing about the media. They’ll always pay attention to what they want. It’s sad but all facts. Throughout the year, you heard about the dominance of LSU, how good Ohio State has been then you have my personal “favorite storyline”, will Alabama make the playoffs? Despite everything I’ve just listed, the defending champions are still here. They haven’t lost a game since the Sugar Bowl when they fell short to Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide in 2018. I remember when the first set of playoff rankings were revealed in November. Dabo Swinney’s group was right on the outside looking in at number five. However, I loved his approach because he was able to keep his guys silent about it. Believe it or not, them being on the outside worked in their favor. They needed one of the four in front of them to lose (which ended up being Alabama losing to LSU) and they basically controlled their own destiny. All they had to do was win their remaining regular season games which they did, clinch their division, check, win their conference champion, which happened, and all would fall into place. There was no way the committee could leave out an undefeated conference champion. Clemson is back in the playoffs for the third straight season as the three seed. After a scare against North Carolina in the regular season, they cruised the rest of the way. The quest to repeat begins in Arizona against another undefeated team. It could begin another dynasty if they were to win it all again this year.

Ohio State: When it was announced that Ryan Day would be taking over as the new head coach for the retired Urban Meyer, I knew they were in good shape. Urban built that entire team up, all Ryan had to do was add some of his twists to the scheme. They’ve been the best team in the Big Ten for the last three seasons. Nobody else in the conference has come close to dethroning them. This year was the most focused I’ve seen them look. Each week, they were blowing out their opponents. I remember a game earlier in the year where they won to the tune of 76-5, believe me, you’re reading this right. Everything went through the Heisman candidate, Justin Fields. After replacing Dwayne Haskins, he finally got his chance to start and took full advantage of the opportunity. This kid was a human joystick. Each time I watched him; I was amazed. He’s able to dominate a football game with his arm and his legs. He also has some nice weapons surrounding him. This offense is at its best when running back J.K. Dobbins is getting his carries or making catches. He’s their version of Alvin Kamara. J.K. has that big play ability each time the ball is in his hands. Justin’s receiving core is also a scary group with Chris Olave, K.J. Hill and Binjimen Victor. The defense this year held their own. It all starts up front with the best non-offensive player in the country, Chase Young. He’s a force that you must zoom in on. I remember when the Buckeyes made the first College Football Playoff. They stunned Alabama then won it all behind a big-time effort from Ezekiel Elliott. To get back to the title game, they’ll have to take down the team on top.

Clemson Player to Watch: Travis Etienne– He’s the best running back in the ACC. Travis is also the hidden gem of this offense. You talk Clemson football, Trevor Lawrence, Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross. Hand Travis the football, let him work up the field. He’s a more elusive C.J. Spiller, another running back who went to Clemson. I love his ability to run right up the middle then cut away to speed it up. He’s so difficult to bring down in the open field.

Ohio State Player to Watch: Damon Arnette– Ohio State has produced some solid secondary talent. Eli Apple, Marshon Lattimore, Denzel Ward and Malik Hooker to name a few. They have two guys who have caught my attention this year. Cornerback Jeff Okudah who I feel is the best corner in the country. Then, there’s his running mate in Damon here. Damon is another lockdown corner that can cover any receiver. He plays tight underneath and can cover in zone. What impresses me is how he’s able to cover without help over the top.

Final Analysis: This is the definition of a collision course. Both teams are undefeated! I remember when they met in the playoffs back in 2016. Deshaun Watson’s Clemson Tigers destroyed Ohio State. This is also another elite quarterback matchup with Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence. This should be a fun one. I see so many matchups in this one that immediately caught my eye. I’m first watching how Clemson will game plan to neutralize Chase Young. Wisconsin and Michigan did it, I see Clemson taking a page from each of their books for their plan. Next is the Ohio State secondary against these dynamic Clemson receivers. This will be the best group of pass catchers that the Buckeyes have seen all year long. Ohio State must keep Trevor in the pocket. He can move around to extend the play. It’s the ultimate challenge. Two quality quarterbacks with stingy defenses following them.

Prediction: Clemson 34 Ohio State 31

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