Ohio State has not been shy talking about how its heartbreaking loss to Clemson in last year’s College Football Playoff semifinal served as motivation for the team throughout the offseason and over the course of the 2020 campaign.
Revenge has long been on the Buckeyes’ minds, and the score of that 29-23 loss to the Tigers at the Fiesta Bowl a year ago, which hangs up in the weight room inside their athletic facility, has been a constant reminder of the redemption they are seeking.
But now, with Ohio State just hours away from its rematch against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl CFP semifinal at 8 p.m. tonight, head coach Ryan Day says revenge and redemption are no longer at the forefront of his team’s mind – instead, he says their primary focus is on executing better than the Tigers when the teams take the field at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with a spot in the national championship on the line.
“I think coming off the game last year, it was fresh on our minds, and then as we kind of went into the quarantine, it kind of got pushed to the back with all the distractions,” Day said of last season’s loss to the Tigers during an interview on ESPN’s College GameDay show. “Then as the season went on, you start to see that maybe this is a possibility again to get back here, and now we’re here again. So, it certainly was a motivation throughout the season, that we got to where we wanted to go but we didn’t finish it the way we wanted to.
“But when you get to this point, you know you’re going to be playing against really good players, you’re going to be playing against really good teams, really good schemes. So, what it really comes down to now with all the emotion is execution on the field, and that’s what we trying to focus on.”
While Day’s Buckeyes are the freshest team in the CFP, having played only six games to this point in the season, the lack of games played has also been a disadvantage for Ohio State in terms of building continuity and chemistry.
Day doesn’t think his team has played up to its potential in any game yet this season, but he certainly hopes that will happen tonight and that the Buckeyes will put together a complete performance against the Tigers.
“That’s been the challenge is that we just haven’t played as many games, especially in the last month,” Day said. “There just hasn’t been that cohesiveness, and that’s one of the things that we’ve been talking about for the last month is that we have to play our best game, however that works out, on all three phases. I don’t think we’ve done that yet. I don’t think we’ve done it on offense, I don’t think we’ve done it as a team.
“So, there’s been times when we’ve really flashed, we’ve played well. But the focus is just about one night, we have to all come together and execute at a high, high level, and that’s all about the preparation leading into the game, spending as much of our focus as we can not so much on playing Clemson or the rematch or all the things that come with that, but more about doing your job and being accountable to the guy next to you.”
ACC Championship and Sugar Bowl gear is available now. Up to 65 percent off today.
Please stay safe and get your officially licensed Clemson gear right here!