When second-ranked Clemson takes on Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day as part of the College Football Playoff, perhaps the best matchup to watch will be between the Tigers’ defensive front against Ohio State’s offensive line.
Like every year, the Buckeyes are big, strong and physical up front. And like always they rely on the running game to get the offense going.
They got it rolling well in the Big Ten Championship Game last Saturday as they rushed for 399 yards and averaged 9.1 yards per carry. Running back Trey Sermon ran for a school record 331 of those yards against Northwestern.
“Most of them our veterans. They have played in big games likes this,” Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Bresee said about the Ohio State offensive line. “So, they are going to know what to do and they have experience in games like this.”
The Buckeyes (6-0) have rushed for at least 307 yards in each of its last three games. They ran for 307 yards against Indiana, 322 vs. Michigan State and of course their 399 yards against the Wildcats. They have yet to be held under 200 yards on the ground in any game this season.
Ohio State is averaging 275.7 yards per game running the football, which ranks fifth nationally.
Clemson (10-1) on the other hand is led by a young, but talented defensive line. The Tigers have two freshmen and two sophomores that start up front. But despite their youth, the young players are getting it done and then some.
When it comes to tackles for loss and sacks, Clemson is once again ranked among the nation’s leaders, ranking second in tackles for loss at 9.4 per game and second in sacks with 4.0 per game.
The Tigers rank ninth at stopping the run, giving up just 99.8 yards per outing and 2.8 per carry, which ranks fifth nationally.
“They are going to be ready for the moment and they are a big group of guys that are all really good,” said Bresee, who was named the ACC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year earlier this week. “It is going to be a good matchup.”
It is going to be the matchup to watch and will likely determine who wins the game and advances to the national championship game on Jan. 11.