Clemson is once again in the College Football Playoff, as the Tigers earned their CFP record sixth consecutive playoff bid.
And like in two other semifinal games, Clemson will play Ohio State. The Tigers, the No. 2 seed in the playoff, will play No. 3 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1. It will mark the third time in the CFP era the two have met and the fourth time since playing in the 2014 Orange Bowl.
Clemson (10-1) beat the Buckeyes 31-0 in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl, as well.
Last year, the Tigers rallied from a 16-0 deficit to beat Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Ohio State coach Ryan Day complained about the officiating and in particular a fumble by Justyn Ross that was overturned by replay officials. The fumbled was returned for a touchdown, which would have given the Buckeyes the lead at the time.
However, the Buckeyes still took the lead late in the game, 23-21, and had Clemson backed up on its own 6-yard line. But Trevor Lawrence guided the Tigers 94 yards in four plays with a go-ahead 34-yard touchdown pass to Travis Etienne with 1:49 remaining in the game.
Ohio State drove to the Clemson 23 on the ensuing possession, but safety Nolan Turner sealed the victory with an interception in the end zone with 33 seconds to play.
“Before we went into quarantine, that was a loss that was fresh in our mind,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said on ESPN’s selection show on Sunday. “Then as we went into quarantine and into preseason, we wanted an opportunity to get back to this situation and to go win the whole thing.”
The Buckeyes (6-0) wanted Clemson, too. They had signage placed all over their facility about getting back to the CFP and getting the opportunity to play the Tigers once again and revenge last year’s loss.
“We were fighting for a season. We wanted to go play for a national championship. Certainly, they wanted to win a Big Ten Championship, but the No. 1 goal was to go win a national championship, and the fact that they are right back here again, against Clemson, that is exciting for our guys.”
Adding to the intrigue in this year’s 2021 Sugar Bowl is the fact Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has been open about the CFP, allowing a team who has played just six games into the playoff considering they have not gone through the rigors of playing a long season in a COVID-19 world.
“I am not surprised because that is what the committee has demonstrated over the past few weeks. So, that is a decision the committee made,” he said. “Congratulations to those guys. We are excited and we all know that Ohio State is an incredibly talented team, and we look forward to a great matchup.
“We had a heck of a game with them last year and I don’t think it is going to be anything different this year. It is going to be a very competitive game and both teams fighting. It will probably come down to a few plays and we will be looking forward to it back in New Orleans.”
It is time to get ready for another great Clemson Christmas. The best collection of Clemson ornaments and other fine gifts are available at Clemson Variety & Frame