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Guess Who’s Back: Buckeyes demolish Clemson, earn National Championship berth

Guess Who’s Back: Buckeyes demolish Clemson, earn National Championship berth

Jack McLaughlin

Maybe it came from Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney’s ill-timed slight of OSU in the season’s final coaches poll (in which he ranked the Buckeyes as the nation’s 11th best team); or perhaps it was the sting of recent losses to the Tigers in the College Football Playoff. But whatever the reason, the outcome was the same: Ohio State was finally able to push past second-ranked Clemson in the semifinals and punch their ticket to the National Championship, which will be held at 8 p.m. Jan. 11 at Miami Gardens, Florida.

Heading into the Sugar Bowl, played on Jan. 1 in New Orleans, Clemson was favored by a full touchdown according to most lines. But the Buckeyes didn’t seem to get the memo on this, as they were the better team last weekend. After a 14-14 tie following the first quarter, OSU put up 21 unanswered points in the second and never looked back from there, eventually crushing Clemson by a final score of 49-28.

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And while most experts (and most amateurs, for that matter) foresee Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence as the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Friday night belonged to Justin Fields. The Georgia transfer completed 22 of 28 passes for 385 yards, six touchdowns, and one interception. In addition, Trey Sermon—following his record-setting performance in the Big Ten Championship—contributed 193 rushing yards and a touchdown as well.

“After last season, something that weighed heavy on us after this game, so for it to come full circle in a great team like Clemson—Trevor Larence, one of the best quarterbacks to play in the history of college football—and against a great program, to come back and win after last year with all the trials and tribulations we’ve been through in the last 12 months, just couldn’t be happier for this team,” Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day said following the game.

And while there was likely a good amount of celebration to be had in the BIg Easy, Day and company can’t rest on their laurels for long, as an even more imposing foe—in the form of top-ranked Alabama—awaits them next week.

The Crimson Tide—generally known for innovative and smothering defense under the guidance of longstanding head coach Nick Saban—now also boasts arguably the most lethal offensive unit in the country, which features surprise standout quarterback Mac Jones, all-around back Najee Harris, and Heisman trophy front-runner, wide receiver DeVonta Smith. 

11-0 in regular season play, Alabama also easily knocked off 4th seed Notre Dame 31-14 in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

And while Buckeyes fans will recall the Cardale Jones-led team that knocked off the Crimson Tide in the semifinal round of the inaugural College Football Playoff during the 2014-2015 season, make no mistake about it: This will be the Buckeyes’ toughest test of the year.

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