Justin Fields believes his performances in Ohio State’s wins over Indiana and Northwestern were a sign from God that he needs to do more and work harder if the Buckeyes are to beat No. 2 Clemson in the Sugar Bowl on Friday.
The Buckeyes’ quarterback struggled in both of those games, throwing a combined five interceptions … three versus Indiana and two in the Northwestern game.
“That is kind of how I am looking at it,” Fields said Monday. “I am looking at it as a challenge. So, for this game I have been preparing my butt off. I have not prepared like this for the whole season. So, maybe I played the way I did because God was just trying to tell me for this game that ‘You need to lock in for this game. You need to prepare for the game.’”
Fields is coming off a very disappointing game against the Wildcats in the Big Ten Championship Game. A game in which he completed just 12-of-27 passes for 114 yards. He threw two interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 34.6.
Against Indiana on Nov. 21, he competed 18-of-30 throws for 300 yards and two touchdowns. His rating was 83.5 because he threw a career-high three interceptions. Field was intercepted just three times all of last season.
“I am not necessarily mad at the way I played,” he said. “Of course, I was mad after the game, but now I am just motivated.”
And so are the rest of the Buckeyes.
“It is pretty self-explanatory that that game hurt us a lot last year. So, that has kind of been our whole motivation this offseason, just getting a chance to play those guys [Clemson] again is a great opportunity,” Fields said. “Of course, we know that Clemson is a great team. They have a great coaching staff, great players. So, we are just excited to be on the same stage as them and get another chance to play those guys.”
Getting to play the Tigers, again, was what the Buckeyes (6-0) were hoping for if they made it back to the College Football Playoff. They felt like they were the better team in last year’s Fiesta Bowl and should have won the game, still pointing to a couple of plays that did not go their way as for reasons why Clemson (10-1) was able to come back from a 16-point deficit to win the game.
“The biggest thing that I have learned just playing on the big stage is that one play can change the whole game,” Fields said. “Whatever that play may be. Last year was the targeting call on Shaun Wade, and from that point on, the momentum just changed.
“So, it is really just playing your hardest on each and every play. Again, one play can change the whole outlook of the game.”