Rematch set. Clemson absolutely dismantled Ohio State on Saturday night in the Fiesta Bowl, cruising to a 31-0 win and booking a spot in the College Football Playoff National Championship against Alabama for Jan. 9.
It's the worst loss for Urban Meyer since he arrived at Ohio State, and a disappointing setback for a team that got the vote of confidence from the CFP Selection Committee as the best team in the Big Ten even though Penn State won the league's championship. Ohio State even held the No. 2 position behind Alabama for much of the season before getting jumped by the Tigers after championship weekend. The 13th data point, it seemed, was the only thing separating these two evenly-matched teams.
The most impressive thing for Clemson was how title-ready this group looks, riding a dominant defensive line and superstar quarterback to its 27th win in the last two seasons.
Comparisons to the 2015 runner-up team have haunted the Tigers all year through mistake-filled wins (and one loss, to Pitt at home) as critics wondered if this group was good enough to make it back to face Alabama again. Ohio State was deemed the second-best team in the country for a lot of October and November, but on the last day in December, the Tigers stood taller than any team in the country outside of the Tide.
Watson did not play a mistake-free game, but he was pretty damn good after a rocky start (23-for-36 passing, 259 yards, touchdown, two interceptions with 57 yards and two touchdowns rushing). Ultimately, his mastery of the offense and rushing ability stresses defenses enough to allow Clemson's many playmakers to shine. Mike Williams (six catches, 96 yards) and Hunter Renfrow (five catches, 50 yards) were popular targets, but it was a team effort to move the ball against a strong Ohio State defense.
There were several chances for Ohio State to get back into the game, but they could not get anything going on offense. Outside of a few explosive plays, most of the Buckeyes' snaps ended in a horde of orange shirts collapsing on J.T. Barrett or Curtis Samuel.
Check out the blog below for updates and live commentary from the game:
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