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2016 College Football Playoff: Fiesta Bowl Preview

2016 College Football Playoff

(Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch)

The Fiesta Bowl features a game between 2nd ranked Ohio State and 3rd Ranked Clemson (Adam Cairns Columbus Dispatch)

Will we see a rematch of the 2015 National Championship game? In order for that to take shape, 3rd ranked Clemson faces a tough test against number 2 Ohio State in an interesting semifinal game. The winner will earn the right to play for a National Championship. What are the keys to the game for each team in order to secure a victory? Get your popcorn ready! What better way to kick off the new year than with some exciting college football action. For a preview of the other semifinal game between Alabama and Washington click here!

Playstation Fiesta Bowl:

Saturday, January 31st, 2016: 7 E.T.

WHY Ohio State Will Win:

  1. Urban Meyer’s Team’s Find Ways To Win Big Games:

Let’s face it; I’m not so sure Ohio State even belongs in the college football playoff after they failed to win their conference. Nevertheless, Ohio State has a habit of playing well when they need to. That has been the case with any Urban Meyer team. Meyer has a career bowl game record of 9-2 always proving to be well prepared in these circumstances. Meyer even dating back to his career at Florida has even gotten the best of Nick Saban more often than not. If Urban Meyer isn’t the best coach in college football he certainly is among the top 3.

2. Curtis Samuel Can Be A Secret Weapon:

Many people around the country aren’t familiar with Samuel but he is the player that gets the Ohio State offense churning. Unlike last year with Ezekiel Elliot, Ohio State has had a very average run game with Mike Weber. Quarterback J.T. Barrett hasn’t had a great year either and looks like an undraftable signal caller. Samuel is the most important player on this team as he serves as a runningback and receiver (Or poor mans Le’Veon Bell). Ohio State is frankly a very young team that starts underclassmen across the board. The one true player they need to lean on is Curtis Samuel. So far he has averaged 7.7 yards per carry rushing and 12.6 yards per catch. If Ohio State can get some big plays out of Samuel, the game might be over before it ever starts.

3. Ohio States Defense Is Vastly Under Rated:

We all know how deadly Clemson’s offense can be at times. Fortunately, the Buckeyes might have the perfect formula for stopping them. Linebackers Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker have put together terrific seasons. McMillan, in particular, is a lock to be a first-round pick this upcoming NFL draft. With Clemson running a lot of read-option plays, it will be imperative for the Ohio State linebackers to be disciplined and stay in their assigned gaps. The rest of Ohio State’s defense is pretty darn good too. Freshman defensive end Nick Bosa (Yes Joey’s brother) has been one of the best defensive ends in college football. The strength of the team is, in fact, the secondary. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore and safety Malik Hooker will be first rounders this upcoming year. The Buckeyes secondary needs to limit Clemson’s ariel attack in order to win this game.

WHY Clemson Will Win:

  1. Deshaun Watson Is The Best Quarterback In College Football:

This guy has been here before. A year ago in the National Title game vs. Alabama, Watson threw for 405 yards, 4 touchdowns, and a QBR of 160. That’s an impressive feat considering it was against Bama. Not winning the Heisman Trophy could prove to be the best thing to ever happen to Watson as he has had a chip on his shoulder since the slow start to 2016. Doesn’t he just look like the next Dak Prescott? Watson has completed 67.6 percent of his throws this season giving the Tigers the clear edge at the quarterback position.

2. Clemson Has More Explosive Playmakers:

Clemson is loaded with talent, particularly on offense. Wide receiver Mike Williams will be the first one selected at his position during the 2017 Draft. Sophomore Deon Cain is another one to watch as a younger version of Williams. Both players are freak athletes resembling the Mike Evans mold. A scout recently compared Williams to Demaryius Thomas. Tight end Jordan Leggett will probably get taken in the middle rounds of the draft. The same can be said for running back Wayne Gallman. Clemson’s offensive line isn’t great but Watson gets the ball off so fast it typically doesn’t matter. When you have two trees sitting on the outside, sometimes just throwing the ball up for grabs can be a nice strategy.

3. Clemson’s Defense Is Very Athletic:

Clemson lost some players to the NFL last year but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still a talented unit. I surely didn’t expect them to be so great after losing Shaq Lawson, Kevin Dodd, and D.J. Reader. Freshman Dexter Lawson has really taken control of the defensive line recording 15 knockdowns and 30 QB Pressures. Middle Linebacker Ben Boulware is a tackling machine holding the defense together. Like Ohio State, the real strength is the secondary. Clemson is loaded at corner. The group lead by Cordrea Tankersley, an upcoming first round pick, help opposing quarterbacks to a mere 41.9 rating. The top four corners on the roster have held the rating to an ugly 40.3 QB rating. Ohio State will likely struggle to throw the ball for the entirety of the game.

The Bottom Line:

The more I looked at this game the more I liked Clemson. Sometimes you can’t overthink things. Clemson has the better quarterback and offensive weapons. Ohio State lost way too much talent to the NFL to be a real title contender in 2016. I think it’s close but I like Clemson. Deshaun Watson has a way of stepping up his game during prime time.

Clemson defeats Ohio State 34-28

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