The third-ranked Ohio State football team is feeling disrespected heading into its College Football Playoff semifinal matchup against No. 2 Clemson at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 1.
During this past offseason, the Buckeyes used their 29-23 loss to the Tigers in last season’s CFP semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl as a source of motivation.
And according to junior offensive lineman Wyatt Davis, Ohio State – which is currently a 7.5-point underdog to Clemson – has an even bigger chip on its shoulder now leading up to the Sugar Bowl on Friday.
“We had a whole winter offseason program dedicated to this game, and clearly what we’ve seen all week, and I’m sure all of you have seen this week, we’re going into this game not respected at all,” Davis said during his Sugar Bowl press conference on Monday. “So, that adds a lot of motivation as well.”
Davis – Ohio State’s starting right guard who was named a first-team All-American by the Associated Press on Monday – said he senses a heightened level of determination from his star quarterback, Justin Fields, entering the Sugar Bowl.
Fields threw for 320 yards and a touchdown against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 28, 2019. However, he was picked off twice, with one of the interceptions coming at the hands of safety Nolan Turner in the end zone with 37 seconds left in the game to seal the victory for the Tigers.
“You can just tell he has that look in his eye where he really wants to excel, and I believe that he is going to excel,” Davis said. “He’s one of the great leaders on this team, and I back him 100 percent.”
Fields reiterated during his Sugar Bowl interview on Monday that last year’s loss to the Tigers has long served as fuel for the Buckeyes and a potential rematch with Clemson is something they had been hoping for.
“It’s pretty self-explanatory. That game hurt us a lot last year,” Fields said. “So, that’s kind of been our whole motivation this whole offseason, just getting a chance to play those guys again and getting this opportunity. Of course, we know Clemson’s a great team. They have a great coaching staff, great players. So, we’re just excited to be on this stage with them and just get another chance to play those guys.”
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