Clemson and Ohio State meet in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal
Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Arizona
No. 2 Ohio State (11-1, Big Ten, No. 3 CFP) vs. No. 3 Clemson (12-1 ACC, No. 2 CFP), 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Line: Ohio State by 3.
Series record: Clemson 2-0.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
The Tigers are trying to get back to the College Football Playoff national championship game for the second consecutive season. The Buckeyes won the first playoff after the 2014 season and a victory against the Tigers would put coach Urban Meyer a win away from him fourth national championship.
Ohio State's offensive line vs. Clemson's defensive line in pass protection. The Buckeyes have allowed 25 sacks. At 2.08 per game, that ranks 63rd in the nation. Thirteen of those sacks came against Michigan and Penn State. Right tackle Isaiah Prince has been especially inconsistent against the better pass rushers he has faced. The Tigers rank third in the country with 46 sacks, though they get a lot of their sacks from tackles Carlos Watkins (8.5) and Dexter Lawrence (6.5). Prince will likely see a lot of DE Christian Wilkins (3 1-2 sacks).
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ohio State: Malik Hooker. The All-America safety has six interceptions, three returned for touchdowns. He leads one of the best secondaries in the country and an Ohio State defense that ranked sixth in the nation with 19 interceptions, including seven returned for touchdowns.
Clemson: Deshaun Watson. The junior quarterback and two-time Heisman finalist can dominate a game as few quarterbacks in the country. He has passed for 3,914 yards and 37 touchdowns. His running was down from last year, but in the big games he is likely to break out that part of his game.
FACTS & FIGURES
Since 2011, Clemson is 68-13 and Ohio State is 67-12. Only Alabama (75-7) has a better record in FBS. ... Meyer is 10-2 in bowl games, including the College Football Playoff championship game, in his career. His only losses came to Michigan in in the Capital One Bowl after the 2007 season when he was with Florida, and to Clemson in the Orange Bowl after the 2013 season with Ohio State ... Clemson had five players selected to the AP All-America teams. Watson and Watkins made second team and LB Ben Boulware, CB Cordrea Tankersley and Wilkins were third team. ... Ohio State had six players receive AP All-America mention: H-Back Curtis Samuel, S Hooker and C Pat Elflein were first-team selections. G Billy Price, LB Raekwon McMillian and P Cameron Johnston made the second team. ... QB J.T. Barrett holds the Ohio State record for touchdowns responsible for with 100 (31 rushing, 69 passing). ... Watson is responsible for 109 touchdowns (23 rushing, 86 passing) in his career.
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