Though his team was handedly beat by Ohio State Friday night in the Sugar Bowl, Dabo Swinney said he does not regret putting the Buckeyes No. 11 in his ranking for the Coaches Poll.
“No, I don’t regret any of that,” he said after the Buckeyes dismantled Clemson 49-28 to advance to the national championship game. “And polls have nothing to do with motivation. Both teams were highly motivated to play.”
But it seemed like Ohio State’s motivation was greater. It did not hurt that the Buckeyes were still smarting from last year’s loss in the Fiesta Bowl to Clemson, a game they felt they would have won had it not been for a few calls that went the Tigers’ way.
But this time, Ohio State left nothing to chance. After Clemson took a 14-7 lead following a Travis Etienne three-yard touchdown run with 5:01 to play in the game, the Buckeyes dominated the rest of the night.
Ohio State (7-0) went on to score the next 28 points, taking a 35-14 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“Listen, they’re a great team,” Swinney said. “As I said, that had nothing to do with Ohio State. I said they were good enough to beat us, good enough to win the whole dang thing. But I didn’t think anybody that didn’t play at least nine games, in my poll, that I wasn’t going to put them in the top ten.
“So, I wasn’t going to change that just because there was a chance, we could play them. So, I don’t have any regret about that.”
But the few Ohio State fans that were allowed in the Superdome did their best to make Swinney regret it, as they yelled, “DA-BO…DA-BO,” over and over again near the end of the game.
On the field, the Buckeyes’ players wanted Swinney to regret what he said.
The Buckeyes’ offense shredded the Clemson defense, as they amassed 639 total yards, the most yards allowed by a Clemson defense in a bowl game.
Quarterback Justin Fields, the game’s MVP, was 22-of-28 for 385 yards and six touchdowns with one interception. Running back Trey Sermon rushed for 193 yards and one touchdown on 31 carries. The Buckeyes ran for 254 yards overall.
“Only thing I regret is obviously not doing a good enough job getting my team ready. But I don’t regret anything about (the poll) at all,” Swinney said.
Clemson’s season comes end in the semifinals of the College Football Playoff. The Tigers finish the year with a 10-2 record.