WHAT. A. GAME. WHAT A PERFORMANCE! The offense looked virtually unstoppable, and the defense wreaked havoc as the game waned on. Justin Fields looked like the best player in the country, and the Trey Sermon-led running attack continued their dominance. Ohio State pulled off the upset, and proved all the doubters wrong in a huge 49-28 over Trevor Lawrence and Clemson.
The offense looked like it could do whatever it wanted all game long. Ryan Day’s constant switching of tempo confused Clemson early, and Ohio State had a day all over the field. Justin Fields had one of the greatest performances in Ohio State history, tossing 6 touchdowns on 22-28 passing, for 385 yards and 1 interception.
The deep ball was there all game long, and Chris Olave thrived off of it. He finished with 6 catches for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tight Ends Luke Farrell and Jeremy Ruckert combined for 3 touchdowns on 5 catches, and Trey Sermon continued his dominance on the ground. Sermon finished with 193 yards on 31 carries, and added a touchdown. Fields accuracy was nearly perfect all game, and the run game was stellar, averaging 5.8 yards per carry.
Ohio State put up 639 total yards offense, and won the time of possession by nearly 10 minutes. Ohio State’s one concern was penalties, since they had 9 of them, accounting for 95 penalty yards. Other than that, Justin Fields proved to everyone he can play in big games, and play like the best player on the field at all times.
Fields’ deep ball accuracy and ability to go through his progressions proved pivotal in this game. Not only that, but his ability to make plays after the playcall broke down has been huge his whole career.
Trevor Lawrence had the quietest 400 yard passing game I have ever seen. He went 33/48 passing, and threw an interception. He also added just 2 passing touchdowns. Clemson had 444 total yards, which may sound concerning, but they had just 44 rushing yards.
Ohio State’s front seven was dominant, holding Clemson to 44 yards on 22 carries, an average of 2 yards per carry. Travis Etienne was completely neutralized on the ground, having just 32 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
Last year, Lawrence’s QB run game killed Ohio State, but this year that was a non factor, and Lawrence got sacked several times. Jonathan Cooper, Tyreke Smith, Tommy Togiai, Justin Hilliard, and Haskell Garrett provided pressure all game long, and Clemson had no answer for it.
Trevor Lawrence fumbled 3 times (1 lost), and he got hit all game long. Other than Cornell Powell’s 139 yards and 2 touchdowns, Ohio State was able to contain Etienne and Amari Rodgers in the passing attack, especially after Clemson’s red hot start.
For whatever reason, Ohio State loves the Sugar Bowl (can’t forget the Cardale Jones-led Buckeyes against Alabama in 2014). What perfect timing, for the offense and defense to have their best performances, in the biggest game of the year (until now). In order to win this National Championship, Ohio State HAS to try and limit Najee Harris, Devonta Smith, and Mac Jones. Smith and Jones are Heisman contenders, while Harris may be the best running back in college football.
Offensively, Ohio State should be able to produce points often against a Crimson Tide defense that is sometimes suspect. If Trey Sermon can keep running like this, while Chris Olave continues to take the top of the defense, I love Ohio State’s shot in this game. They have to continue that underdog mentality, keep playing with intensity, and limit silly mistakes. The goal should be getting it to the 4th quarter, with a chance to win. Ohio State can win this game, whether it is a low-scoring game, or a shootout with Alabama.
Photo: Gerald Herbert/Associated Press