Clemson’s 31-0 victory over Ohio State in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Eve is arguably the best game a Clemson team has played from start to finish in the history of its storied program.
The Tigers humiliated the Buckeyes in what was supposed to be a classic matchup to see who would advance to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
Clemson held the Buckeyes’ powerful running game to 88 yards, while they totaled just 215 overall. The Tigers also forced three turnovers, had three sacks and shutdown quarterback J.T. Barrett as he completed just 19-of-33 passes for 127 yards and had two interceptions. He was also held to minus-2 yards rushing on 11 carries.
Defensive end Clelin Ferrell, who was named the game’s Defensive MVP, was Barrett’s personal nightmare as he lived in the Ohio State backfield. He finished the night with six tackles, three for loss and one sack.
“It was the best game we ever played (defensively),” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said earlier this summer.
Clemson was not too bad on offense either. Quarterback Deshaun Watson threw for 259 yards, while running for one score and throwing for another. He finished the game with 316 total yards. Overall, the offense finished with 470 total yards against an Ohio State defense that came into the game ranked second in the country.
If it was not for the game that followed—Clemson’s 35-31 win over Alabama to win the program its first national championship in 35 years—the Fiesta Bowl win would be considered the biggest win in the program’s history.
Instead, in Clemson lore, it is sort of the forgotten game. Besides the occasional Clemson fan that likes to troll Ohio State fans on Twitter, the Fiesta Bowl has hardly been talked about at Clemson.
That’s not the case in Columbus, Ohio, where its all Buckeye players and Meyer have heard from the fans and the media alike.
“Man, I’m tired of talking about that game,” Ohio State center Billy Price said in an article written by Dan Hope of Eleven Warriors.com. “I’m tired of talking about it, no offense.”
It’s understandable why the Buckeyes don’t want to talk about it. The game marked the first time in head coach Urban Meyer’s career he has been shutout, a span of 194 games.
“It was awful,” Meyer said in Hope’s article. “I could sugar-coat it and tell you something (different), but it was awful.”
It also marked the first time an Ohio State team has failed to score in a game since 1993. Also, no Buckeye team had been shutout in a bowl game since the 1928 Rose Bowl.
“We’ve kind of let that one go,” Meyer said. “That ship has sailed. It’s gone. And we’ve not addressed it. We’ve not talked about it.”
Meyer may not have addressed it with his team, but Price and linebacker Chris Worley told Hope and other members of the media at The Big Ten Media Days on Monday that there have been reminders of the Fiesta Bowl loss all over the football facility this off season.
“He’s always trying to figure out a way to get the best out of his players,” Worley said. “If he did things right and he recruited competitors and he recruited competitors and he has competitors on his team … if you’re a competitor and you bring that up, what other choice do you have other than take that as a fuel?”
Hot off the Press!!! Have you ordered the 2017 Clemson season preview ‘Best is the Standard’ from the staff that covers Clemson football 365 days a year? Order yours today to make sure you get a copy!