SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The first big day of Fiesta Bowl week takes place this morning at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., when selected players and two coaches from No. 3 Clemson and No. 2 Ohio State speak to the media.
The Tigers (13-0) and the Buckeyes (13-0) meet as part of the College Football Playoff Semifinal at State Farm Stadium on Saturday in Glendale.
Several players from Clemson and Ohio State will meet with the media for 45 minutes each starting at 10:30 a.m. ET.
Here are five storylines to watch for from today’s press conferences.
Trevor Lawrence vs. Justin Fields
Though they both were coached by the same quarterback’s coach back in Georgia, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields have been compared to each other ever since they were in high school. Depending on what recruiting site you followed, they were both No. 1 and No. 2 in the 2018 class. Fields first went to Georgia where things did not work out, while Lawrence became the first freshman quarterback to lead his team to a national championship since 1985. Fields, a Heisman Finalist this year. found a home at Ohio State and he has led the Buckeyes to a 13-0 record, while accounting for 50 touchdowns (40 pass and 10 rush). He has thrown just one interception. Lawrence was the preseason favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, but eight interceptions in the first seven games ended the Heisman discussion. Since then, he has completed 77 percent of his passes for more than 1,900 yards and 20 touchdowns without an interception. Lawrence is 24-0 as a starter at Clemson.
Clemson’s wide receivers vs. Ohio State’s secondary
Clemson is loaded at wide receiver with Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross, Amari Rodgers, Frank Ladson and Joseph Ngata to name a few. With the exception of Rodgers, they are all 6-4 and 210 to 220 pounds. They’re big, fast and strong. However, Ohio State’s secondary has three legitimate first- or second-round draft talent on the backend, led by All-American cornerback Jeff Okudah (6-1, 200). He is a long and athletic corner, who has great speed and can run with anyone. Sophomore Shaun Wade has really come into his own as well and has done a nice job. Graduate Damon Arnette mans the other side of the field and he has been just as solid as Okudah. Ohio State ranks second to Clemson in pass defense coming into the Fiesta Bowl.
The return of Jeff Scott
This will be a big story after Scott made his return from South Florida on Sunday to finish out his duties as Clemson’s wide receiver coach and co-offensive coordinator. Scott was hired two weeks ago to be the new head coach of the Bulls in Tampa, Florida. How much will Scott actually be focused on the Tigers and what impact will it have on Clemson’s offense.
Braden Galloway is back in the lineup
After a year of having to sit due to a failed drug test, Clemson tight end Braden Galloway is cleared to play in Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl. The Seneca, South Carolina native will be anxious to get back in the flow of things. How will Clemson use the versatile athlete and how much of an impact will he make in the game or can he make?
Isaiah Simmons vs. Chase Young
Though they might not actually play on the field at the same time on Saturday, the two will definitely be compared to one another. Simmons is the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, All-American and the recipient of the Butkus Award which goes to the nation’s best linebacker. Chas Young is the nation’s best defensive end and overall defensive player. The Buckeyes will line up the 6-5, 265-pound junior on both end positions and over the center at times as well. Simmons can play anywhere on the field. He can play SAM and nickel back of course, safety and all three linebacker positions. Simmons, who also plays on special teams, rarely takes a defensive play off and is arguably the most versatile player in college football.