Ever since the moment Charlie Bauman intercepted an Art Schlichter’s pass to seal the 1978 Gator Bowl victory, Clemson has been in Ohio State’s head.
As Bauman was getting up to celebrate his game-clinching interception, legendary Ohio State head coach Woody Hayes punched the Tigers’ defensive tackle, which caused both benches to clear. Since then, Clemson has defeated the Buckeyes three more times, including last year’s come-from-behind, 29-23, victory at the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix, Ariz.
The Tigers also beat Ohio State in the 2014 Orange Bowl, 40-35, as well as the 2017 Fiesta Bowl, 31-0.
Though the two programs have played just four times, Clemson has caused one legendary coach to lose his job in Hayes, while handing a second one, Urban Meyer, the worst loss of his career and the only time he has been shutout.
Adding on to the fact, the Buckeyes and their fans have complained about some of the calls that went against them in last year’s playoff game, the Buckeyes view Clemson as a rival.
“This is exactly where we want to be,” Ohio State offensive guard Wyatt Davis said. “It is no secret we wanted to win that game really badly last year and it was extremely rough the way that we left that field.
“So, it is definitely big to be back in this position and this is where we wanted to be. And thank God we are here after the crazy year we have had. I think we are excited to get another shot at them.”
While the Buckeyes and their fans are looking at Clemson as a rival and are hungry to beat the Tigers, that’s not the case in Clemson. Though they respect Ohio State and its program, and obviously want to win the game, the Tigers do not see the Buckeyes as a rival.
“Not to me, to be honest. It feels nothing like the South Carolina rivalry or any other game that we may see as a rivalry,” Clemson receiver Amari Rodgers said. “I feel like they have more beef with us than we do them. So, that is really on them to be honest. But I don’t see it as a rivalry.
“They are just one of those teams that we happen to play a lot since I have been here. They are great games, at the same time, but I don’t see it as a rivalry.”