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TCI Game Day: Fiesta Bowl

It’s Game Day in Glendale where No. 2 Clemson battles No. 3 Ohio State for the Fiesta Bowl and a spot in the national championship.

Location: University of Phoenix Stadium

Kickoff:  7:00 p.m.

Television:  ESPN

Announcers:  Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Samantha Ponder

2016 Record: Clemson  12-1,  Ohio State 11-1

ACC/Big Ten Record: Clemson 8-1,  Ohio State 8-1

Series History: Clemson leads the series 2-0

Last Meeting:  Clemson won 40-35 in 2014 Orange Bowl

CLEMSON GETS SIXTH STRAIGHT

10-WIN SEASON The victory for Clemson over Wake Forest gave the Tigers a 10-1 record and assure Clemson of a sixth straight season with at least 10 victories. Clemson is just the 11th different school in college football history (current FBS schools) to have six consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins. Heading into this season Clemson and Alabama were the only schools with an active streak of at least five 10-win seasons. The Crimson Tide are also primed to extend their streak, which is eight consecutive years entering this season.

The record for consecutive 10-win seasons is 14 years in a row set by Bobby Bowden’s Florida State Seminoles (1987-02). The win over South Carolina gave Clemson 11 wins this season, just the sixth 11 win season in school history. Four of the six have come under Dabo Swinney.

ASSOCIATED PRESS POLL APPEARANCES

2011-16 Clemson ranks in the top five in the nation over the last six years in Associate Press Poll appearances in the top 25, top 10 and top 5. The Tigers have been ranked in 90 of the last 97 top 25 poll, or .928 of the polls, fourth best in the nation. Clemson is fifth in top 10 appearances since 2011 with 50, and fifth in top five appearances since 2011 with 31. Clemson has been in the top five for 23 straight AP polls, the longest active streak in the nation.

THE 2010s, WINNINGEST IN CLEMSON HISTORY

With a 12-1 record, Clemson now has a 74-20 record in the decade of the 2010s. That computes to a .787 winning percentage, the best for any decade in Clemson history. This decade has moved ahead of the 1980s in terms of winning percentage. In the 1980s, Clemson had a .767 winning percentage off an 87-25-4 record, the fifth best winning percentage in college football. Clemson did not have a losing season in any year in the 1980s under head coach Danny Ford, who coached every game in that decade. So far Dabo Swinney has coached every game in the decade of the 2010s.

TOP 25 TEAMS EACH OF LAST FIVE YEARS

Clemson has finished each of the last five seasons in the top 25 of both polls. Clemson, Alabama, Oregon and Florida State are the only schools in the nation to finish in the top 25 of both polls every year since 2011. That includes a top 15 or better final ranking each of the last four years when the Tigers have had a 46-8 record, the best four year mark in Clemson history. Clemson is a lock for another top 25 this season, as are Alabama and Florida State. Oregon will not be in a bowl and drop of the list.

BATTLE OF TWO OUTSTANDING, VETERAN QUARTERBACKS

When Clemson and Ohio State meet in the College Football Playoff it will be a meeting of two of the top veteran quarterbacks in the FBS. And they are winners. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson has a 30-3 career record and Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett is 26-3. Both have been outstanding when it comes to running and passing and have both accounted for at least 100 touchdowns on the ground and through the air. There are just four current FBS quarterbacks with 100 touchdowns. Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech has 115, Watson has 109, Zach Terrell of Western Michigan has 107 and Barrett has 100. All are juniors with exception of Terrell.

ANOTHER 100-YARD GAME FOR WILLIAMS

Mike Williams had his fifth 100-yard receiving game of 2016 and ninth of his career in the win over South Carolina. Williams had six catches for 100 yards and three scores in that 56-7 win. He tied the Clemson record for touchdown catches in a single game against South Carolina and became the first Clemson receiver to have three touchdown receptions against the Gamecocks in the 114-game history of the series. With nine career 100-yard receiving games, Williams is third in Clemson history in that category. Sammy Watkins has the record with 15, while DeAndre Hopkins had 12. Rod Gardner, another first round draft choice, also had nine.

CLEMSON VS. RANKED TEAMS IN BOWL GAMES

Clemson has an 15-12 record in bowl games against top 25 opponents, but the Tigers are 6-3 against teams ranked seventh or higher. That includes a win over sixth ranked Ohio State in 2013.

Ohio State is ranked second by AP and by USA Today entering the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl and third by the College Football Playoff. If Clemson beats Ohio State it would be the highest ranked team according to the AP Poll Clemson has beaten in history. Three times Clemson has beaten a no. 3 team, including last year against Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff.

The highest ranked team Clemson has faced in a bowl is LSU, who was numberone entering the 1959 (1958 season) Sugar Bowl, a game Clemson lost by just a 7-0 score. Clemson defeated a fourth-ranked Nebraska team when it won the National Championship at the 1982 Orange Bowl.

Clemson also defeated a sixth-ranked Tennessee team in the 2003 Chick-Fil-A Bowl, a seventh ranked TCU team at the 1959 Bluebonnet Bowl and a seventh ranked LSU team in last year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl.

CLEMSON SEVENTH IN NATION IN SCORING MARGIN

Another example of Clemson’s dominance this year has been scoring margin. The Tigers have outscored the opposition on average 40.2 to 18.4 and are one of just six schools to rank in the top 20 in the nation in scoring offense and scoring defense this year. Clemson’s +21.8 points per game is seventh best in the nation. Ohio State’s +28.5 is third best.

CLEMSON EIGHTH ACC TEAM WITH

12 WINS When Clemson won the ACC Championship on December 3, the Tigers became just the eighth program to win at least 12 games in a season. Now they have done it in consecutive years after winning 14 last year. Clemson’s 1981 National Championship team was the first ACC team to win 12 games in a season. Florida State did it five times between 1993 and 2014. The Seminoles actually had a streak of three seasons with at least 12 wins from 2012-14. They won a record 14 games (14-0) in 2013, then Clemson tied the mark last year. Pittsburgh and Miami had 12 win seasons previously, but they were not in the ACC at the time.

WATSON SECOND IN TOUCHDOWN RESPONSIBILITY

Quarterback Deshaun Watson is second among active FBS players in touchdowns rushing and passing in his career. Watson has 23 rushing and 86 passing for 109 for his 36-game career, averaging almost three touchdowns per game. He has had 11 touchdowns rushing and passing in his last two games and now as 43 for the season. He had 47 in 15 games a year ago so he is ahead of last year’s pace.

 

TCI Predictions 

Robert – Clemson 42 Ohio State 27

Gavin – Clemson 31  Ohio State 27

Will – Clemson 35  Ohio State 17

Kaila – Clemson 35 Ohio State 24

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