Revenge has never tasted so sweet! At least that’s what the players of the No. 3 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes are saying this morning after beating the No. 2 ranked Clemson Tigers 49-28 in last night’s Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Superdome in New Orleans. The Allstate Sugar Bowl acts as the College Football Playoff (CFP) Semi-final with the winner going to the CFP National Championship game in Miami Fl on January 11th, 2021.
This is the second year in a row that Clemson (11-0) and Ohio State (6-0) have battled it out for the CFP Semi-final title. Last year, Clemson came from behind with a late 4th quarter touchdown at 1:49 remaining and sealed a 29-23 win with a pick off Quarterback Justin Fields in the endzone. The gut-wrenching loss left a sour taste in Ohio State players’ mouths, and it was apparent on the field this year.
Clemson started out strong with quarterback Trevor Lawrence running the ball in for a touchdown in the first drive of the game and then it went downhill from there. In an action-packed first quarter, Ohio State scored two touchdowns, one by Wide Receiver Trey Sermon and an 8-yard touchdown by Tight End Luke Ferrell bringing the score to 14-14.
Ohio State kept the winning momentum going in the 2nd quarter when Tight End Jeremy Ruckert scored not only one but two touchdowns, nullifying the age-old belief that Ohio State doesn’t use its tight ends in the passing game as much as it should. The second quarter wasn’t all sugar and spice for Ohio State though, Justin Fields took a rough hit to the ribs by Clemson Linebacker James Skalski who was ejected from the game for targeting. Despite being injured, Fields returned to the game throwing a touchdown pass to Wide Receiver Chris Olave.
“I can just tell you he’s a really tough kid,” Head Coach Ryan Day said when asked about his ailing quarterback “He’s got the heart of a lion and he’s gotta play for 30 more minutes.”
As the players left the field at the half, the Buckeyes led the Tigers by 3 touchdowns with a score of 35-14.
“We got to play better in the secondary first of all,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “Lots of busted play and stopping the run game. We haven’t been able to stop them. Give them credit. They got us on our heels. We got a long way to go. We got to go in here and figure out how to stop the run. We have to clean up the miscommunications on the backend.”
Coach Day also commented, “Well this is a good start, but this is a championship team we’re playing,” He continued, “They’re going to come out swinging. This drive coming out of halftime is going to be huge.”
And what a drive it was. A few minutes into the second half, Clemson Linebacker Mike Jones Jr. intercepted a ball thrown by Fisher that eventually led to a ten-yard touchdown by Wide Receiver Cornell Powell to lessen Ohio State’s lead 35-21. But that deficit didn’t last long.
With 4:55 left in the third quarter, Ohio State’s Chris Olave caught a beautifully thrown 56-yard ball by Fields to get his second touchdown of the night. Clemson once again trailed by three touchdowns with the score 41-21. During this play, Olave got redemption for his route running mistake in the final minute of last years CFP semi-final that led to Clemson’s Nolan Turner’s interception and ultimately Ohio State losing the game.
The fourth quarter brought a touchdown by each team, one by Ohio State’s Wide Receiver Jameson Williams and another by Clemson’s Powell. The fourth quarter also saw Lawrence get sacked three times and an interception late in-game by Ohio State that sealed them the win 49-28.
Ohio State Quarterback Justin Fields had a game for the history books. During his heroic and pain-filled performance, he completed 22 of 28 passes for 385 yards and threw six touchdowns for a Sugar Bowl Record. He tied for 3rd most touchdowns in a bowl game ever only behind LSU’s Justin Burrow’s seven touchdown record from 2019. He was also named Offensive Player of the Game.
“What he means to me, I can’t put into words,’’ Day said of Fields. “The amount of time we spend together, for him to come out and play the way he did after so many people had doubted him nationally. He took the big hit, he looked me in the eye and said there is no way we’re losing this game.’’
Ohio State now takes on top seed Alabama in the CFP National Championship game on January 11th, 2021 in Miami. It will be the first time Ohio State has seen a national championship game since 2014, when they won the title. Ironically, 2014 is also the last time Ohio State competed against Alabama. May the best team win!