SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — When Clemson played Ohio State in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl, the Tigers had their way with the Buckeyes, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Clemson, who will play the Buckeyes again in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday as part of the College Football Playoff, held them to 215 total yards, including just 88 yards on the ground in a 31-0 beat down in the desert.
However, this is not the 2016 Ohio State Buckeyes. This is a more balanced offense led by Heisman Trophy Finalist in quarterback Justin Fields and running back J.T. Dobbins. In 2016, the Ohio State offense centered around quarterback J.T. Barrett and wide receiver Curtis Samuel.
Though the Buckeyes averaged 245 yards per game on the ground in 2016, this year’s offense features Dobbins and what he does in the running game. It gets the rest of the offense rolling. Dobbins is fourth in the country at running the ball with 1,829 yards and 20 touchdowns.
“They have players capable of doing that with more of a balanced monster running back,” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said when comparing the differences to then and now. “You know, they’ve been feeding him. I’m not sure if they felt quite as good about their backs then.”
Back then, the Buckeyes leaned more on Barrett’s skills in the running game and occasionally would throw Samuel in there to try and keep defenses guessing.
“I see more similarities in that they are just a very balanced and very physical, very explosive — I’m not sure what their rankings were offensively. I know they were really good in ’16,” Venables said. “They’re the number one scoring offense in college football this year, and the best third-down offense in college football. Almost close to 60 percent conversion rate, which is just – it’s got to be historical for an offense, other than a triple-option offense, who are typically really good on third down. It’s pretty frightening when you put the tape on, what they have been able to put on the field.”
A great gift for any Clemson fan. Just one of many great items available from Clemson Variety & Frame