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The forgotten game

So what do you really have to talk about in a space that is reserved for football, but there is no football to really speak about?

That was my dilemma this morning so I figured why not go back and look at the 2016 season and I see if there is anything more to discuss. As I did that this morning, it quickly came to my attention that there was something that I rarely hear Clemson fans speak about.

With so much made of Clemson’s win over Alabama in the national championship game, especially the way in which the Tigers won it, no one really talks about the Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State or its significance.

The 31-0 victory was a landmark win for the program in so many ways. It was more than just a semifinal win that advanced the Tigers to a second straight national championship game appearance.

Be honest, have you really thought about the win over the Buckeyes that much in the last three months? Do you really know why it was a significant victory in Clemson history?

You probably don’t and to be honest, until this morning, I seldom have thought about the game. It’s understandable why Ohio State fans want to forget about the Fiesta Bowl, but Clemson fans need to remember this win almost as much as the win over Alabama in the national championship.

The win over the Buckeyes was significant because it showed America that Clemson is a program that deserves to be respected as an elite program. Sure, Clemson had earned some respect, but there was still a group that considered the Clemson program as good, but not at the level of Alabama, Ohio State or even Florida State for that matter.

When the Tigers bullied and pushed around the Buckeyes to the tune of 31-0, everyone took notice. No team beats Ohio State like that, much less the way in which Clemson did.

Here are some facts, thanks to Tim Bourret of the Clemson Athletic Communications Department, on how dominant the Tigers were on New Year’s Eve in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl.

  • First shutout of an Urban Meyer coached team. It was his 194th career game as a head coach.
  • First shutout of any Ohio State team since 1993 when Michigan beat the Buckeyes, 28-0.
  • Ohio State came into the game averaging 42.7 points per game, ninth in the nation.
  • Urban Meyer is now 10-3 in bowl games in his career, but he is 0-2 vs. Dabo Swinney.
  • Meyer entered the game with a 165-28 record and the .854 winning percentage was the third best in college football history (min. 10 years). Only former Notre Dame coaches Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy are ahead of him.
  • Meyer is now 45-4 in his career with more than a week to prepare for an opponent and two of the losses are to Swinney and the Tigers.
  • Swinney is just the sixth coach to beat Meyer more than once and now the only coach to be undefeated against him with more than one game played.
  • Ohio State was allowing just 282 yards a game entering the contest, but Clemson gained a season high 470 against the Buckeyes.
  • The Buckeyes were ranked No. 2 in the nation by AP and the Amway coaches poll. It was the highest ranked team Clemson has beaten in its history at the time. Clemson then broke that mark with the win over No. 1 Alabama in the National Championship game.

Clemson’s 31-0 win over No. 2 Ohio State was the fifth largest margin of victory for the program over a top 25 team. What is amazing about that stat was Ohio State was the highest ranked team Clemson had defeated in its history. Of course, the next week, the Tigers trumped that in the Nation­al Championship game by defeating No. 1 Alabama.

By the way, in case you forgot what happened in the Tigers’ beatdown of the Buckeyes, I attached the highlights from the game.

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