The Clemson Insider staff members Robert MacRae, Gavin Oliver, Will Vandervort, and William Qualkinbush go Around the Horn to answer some of the questions surrounding Clemson athletics and college football.
What do you think of Clemson’s Fiesta Bowl matchup with Ohio State?
Robert MacRae: It certainly would have been great to be in Atlanta, but this is a great matchup for Clemson. The Tigers will certainly need to play up to their potential, but if they do they should beat Ohio State in another bowl game and head to Tampa for another shot at the national championship.
Ohio State’s offense has struggled at time this season. J.T. Barrett is a weapon with is feet but has not been the passer this year that he was last season. Clemson’s defense will need to play better than they did in the ACC Championship Game and against Pitt. The three weeks of rest should help. Scott Pagano’s return on the defensive line will also help the rotation.
Dabo Swinney and the Clemson staff have shown how dangerous they are with three weeks to get the Tigers ready for a bowl game. Hopefully, we will see the same this year.
Gavin Oliver: The matchup I’m most excited to see is Clemson’s talented receiving corps against Ohio State’s skilled secondary. Guys like Mike Williams, Artavis Scott and Deon Cain facing off with Ohio State defensive backs such as Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore will be fun to watch. Overall, I think it is a good matchup for Clemson. Deshaun Watson is playing his best football at the right time, while Clemson’s defensive line could overpower an Ohio State offensive line that has struggled at times. But the biggest thing in my opinion is Clemson’s experience versus Ohio State’s inexperience. Clemson has a veteran roster that understands what it takes to play well and win in the College Football Playoff. Though the Buckeyes won the national title just two years ago, they lost a lot of key contributors to the NFL after last season and are a young team. Even Urban Meyer admitted his team might be a year ahead of schedule, and Clemson’s veteran leadership could be what gives the Tigers the edge in a close game.
William Qualkinbush: I think we know now which kinds of teams Clemson has trouble defending. As good as Urban Meyer is, I don’t see Ohio State’s offense being a bad matchup for Clemson. J.T. Barrett’s leadership is unquestioned, but his downfield passing inconsistency has been puzzling this season. When the Buckeyes have needed to throw the ball, they really haven’t been able to do it. In terms of misdirection, playaction, hot reads, etc., there are some similarities to Pittsburgh, but the Buckeyes don’t have the weapons at tight end and running back to exploit the Tigers’ weaknesses there. On the other side, Ohio State has some studs playing on defense, but they’re all young. I’ll take youthful ability against a lot of teams, but not one that boasts the veteran skill players Clemson does. I respect the heck out of Urban Meyer, but I’m having a hard time seeing how his team takes advantage of Clemson’s deficiencies, and I believe Clemson is the better team. As of this moment, I’m seeing a double-digit victory for the Tigers in Glendale.