Here is a little sneak peek at one of the matchups to watch for when No. 2 Clemson battles No. 3 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Eve in the College Football Playoff semifinals.
When Clemson has the ball: We all know what Deshaun Watson and his wide receivers can do. What about the Ohio State defense? What do we really know about the Buckeyes?
Statistically the Buckeyes look really good. They rank second in just about every category in the Big Ten, including scoring defense, total yards allowed and passing defense. They are third at stopping the run.
Ohio State is yielding just 281.6 yards and 14.2 points per game. They are allowing just 117.1 on the ground and 164.5 through the air. The Buckeyes are also second in the Big Ten in interceptions with 19, including seven that have been returned for touchdowns, one fewer than the number of touchdown passes they have allowed (10).
Safety Malik Hooker leads the team with six interceptions, including three he has returned for six points. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore has four interceptions and has returned one for a touchdown.
Linebacker Raekwon McMillan leads the squad with 87 tackles. Sophomore backer Jerome Baker is second with 79 tackles and is second on the team with 8.5 tackles for loss, too.
Defensive end Tyquan Lewis leads the defense with 7.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. As a team, the Buckeyes have 26 sacks on the season.
Opponents are completing just 47.3 percent of its passes.
Watson has completed 67.6 percent of his 487 passes for 3,914 yards and 37 touchdowns. He has been intercepted 15 times. However, in the last two games, he has thrown nine touchdown passes to two interceptions, and 15-5 in the last five games.
Watson has completed 74 percent of his passes during that span, while the offense as a whole has averaged over 500 yards and 40 points a game.
For the season, the Tigers are averaging 40.2 points and 505.5 yards per game.
Watson’s favorite target of course is wide receiver Mike Williams. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior leads the team with 84 receptions for 1,171 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Tight end Jordan Leggett is also a go-to guy for Watson. He is a matchup problem for most defenses as he averages 16.8 yards per catch and has seven touchdowns. He has 38 receptions for 637 yards.
Deon Cain is averaging 19.4 yards per catch on 32 receptions for 621 yards. He is second on the team with nine touchdowns.
Artavis Scott has 71 receptions for 592 yards and five scores. Watson also has Hunter Renfrow (29-353, 4 TDs), and Ray Ray McCloud (45-443, 2 TDs) catching passes.
Running back Wayne Gallman leads the Tigers with 1,002 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground.
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