The one thing Travis Etienne likes about the College Football Playoff is the fact no one is voting for the winner.
“We have a great chance to really show the world who we are on December 28 and let them see who we have been all season,” the Clemson running back said. “You can’t vote on who is going to win that game. We take it like that, it is just fuel to the fire to be great.”
Third-ranked Clemson (13-0) has been soured by the way it has been portrayed all season, in particular from the national media. Despite being undefeated, they became the first preseason No. 1 team to fall to No. 3 in the Associated Press Poll since 1966.
People have questioned their schedule and wonder if they can hang with No. 2 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Etienne, along with quarterback Trevor Lawrence and wide receiver Tee Higgins, did not even make it as finalist for national awards at their respected positions.
They even feel like the CFP Committee disrespected them by ranking them No. 5 in their initial playoff rankings.
“Those awards are voted on. You don’t vote on a national champion. We just have to go out there and showcase our abilities” Etienne said.
Of course, Etienne knows it will not be easy. The Buckeyes are also undefeated and rolled through the Big Ten like Clemson did the ACC. They have won all 13 of their games by 11 or more points. Defensively, they rank second in scoring defense, total defense and rank in the top 10 in rushing defense.
“It’s just their speed. They are very fast,” Etienne said. “They are physical too. You have Chase Young, who is a great defensive end. They also have a great defensive line. They are all great players. Their backers are physical.
“They are looking at tips and they are playing faster than they actually are. They have great and long defensive backs that are fast, and their safeties don’t miss tackles. It is going to be a hard-fought game. The game is going to be won in the trenches.”
The one advantage the Tigers have is their experience. Clemson is making its recording tying fifth straight appearance in the CFP and most of the players have won at least one national championship. The Tigers have won two of the last three national championships.
Ohio State on the other hand is making its first CFP game in three years, their first since losing to Clemson, 31-0, in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl. The Buckeyes also have a new head coach who has not coached in a game of this magnitude, and most of his staff has not either.
“We don’t look at like that. It is football,” Etienne said. “They are great football players and a great football team and at the end of the day it comes down to who has not played in this kind of game or who is going to be tight in the moment.
“It comes down to ball players making plays. You can’t put too much emphasis on outside factors.”
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