Austin Bryant Talks College Football Playoff

Find out what Lions EDGE rusher Austin Bryant had to say about playing in the College Football Playoff while at Clemson
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Lions EDGE defender Austin Bryant, a proud Clemson alum, is ready to go for tonight's College Football Playoff semifinal matchup between his Clemson Tigers (13-0) -- ranked No. 3 in the country -- and the No. 2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (13-0).

Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. EST from the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

And Bryant knows all about what awaits the Tigers in the highly anticipated matchup that will determine whether Dabo Swinney & Co. get the chance to defend their national championship from a year ago.   

Bryant, who starred on the defensive line for Clemson from 2015-18, played in four straight College Football Playoffs, including in three CFP championship games (during the 2015, 2016 and 2018 seasons). 

The championship games played during the 2016 and 2018 seasons resulted in Clemson wins -- both victories coming against Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The Tigers lost to the Crimson Tide in the CFP championship played at the conclusion of the '15 campaign.

"It's incredible," Bryant said to SI Lions Maven reporter John Maakaron about playing in the College Football Playoff. "As a kid, you dream about playing in those big bowl games. And with these bowl games being the biggest ones you play in to get to the national championship, it's definitely a gift and a blessing for these guys." 

Bryant added, "I enjoyed my time playing in them. And the thing that I remember most is just being with my teammates. It's such a special time, with it being around the holidays. And you're just with your boys, guys you came in with and have grown into men with. So, it's an incredible stage, and I know they'll take advantage of it."

Bragging rights are on the line in the Lions locker room going into the semifinal contest, too.

Lions left tackle Taylor Decker attended Ohio State, and Bryant and him -- to no surprise -- have been trash talking each other throughout the week.

"I've been 'yapping' for a couple days now," Bryant said. "We're probably going to make a little friendly wager on the game. I don't know what the wager will be. Maybe some food ... who knows. But definitely been talking a little trash, and looking forward to the game." 

Clemson is looking to capture its third College Football Playoff championship in four years, which would break a tie with Alabama for most all-time CFP championships.

Meanwhile, Ohio State is back in the CFP for the first time since 2016 -- a year in which the then-Urban Meyer-led Buckeyes lost, 31-0, to Swinney & Co. in the semifinal round. And just like this year, the game was played as part of the Fiesta Bowl.

The Buckeyes last won a national championship in 2014 -- a 42–20 victory over the Oregon Ducks -- in what was the inaugural year of the College Football Playoff.

"It's almost unreal," Bryant commented to Maakaron about hoisting the national championship trophy. "You think back to the long, hard days you had in camp and the offseason. Just grinding with the guys that you came in with, and taking the coaches' direction throughout the year and continuing to get better. And to actually win the whole thing is incredible. It's a moment that I'll never forget and will cherish for the rest of my life."

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