(Photo Courtesy: azcentral)
Saturday night, Clemson dominated Ohio State with a 31-0 win to advance to the National Championship for a rematch against Alabama. The Buckeyes came into Saturday as the favorite, but Clemson got up early, ran all over the Buckeye defense and piled the pressure on Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett in the shut out win.
Here are five things we learned from the Fiesta Bowl:
Pressure Situation: Clemson read Ohio State’s game plan well. The Tiger defense only allowed the Buckeyes 88 rushing yards and broke through Ohio State’s offensive line throughout the night for 11 TFLs for 51 yards. Barrett was sacked three times. The Buckeyes only had nine first downs in the entire game. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney attributed his defense’s success to their preparation, but he didn’t expect the shut out.
“We didn’t really have any illusions they wouldn’t score a point,” Swinney said. “We just wanted to have one more than them.”
Look how close Clemson's defense is bunched to the line of scrimmage. There's no respect for deep threat. None.
— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) January 1, 2017
Don’t Get Used To It: Saturday was the first time the Buckeyes have been shut out since 1993. It was also the first time in Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer’s head coaching career that his team has been shut out. Don’t count the Buckeyes out however, Meyer said we won’t be seeing a repeat of tonight.
“Ohio State is not used to this,” Meyer said. “I’m not used to this, and we will not get used to this. That’s not going to happen again.”
Ohio State has not been shut out in its last 295 games.
The last time the Buckeyes failed to score was in 1993 versus Michigan.
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) January 1, 2017
Hot In The Pocket: Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson showed Saturday how much he thrives in the pocket. With the help of the Tiger offensive line, Watson had plenty of time to read the field and key blocks helped when the quarterback had to scramble. Watson completed 23 of 36 passes for 259 yards and rushed for 75 yards with two touchdowns.
Red Zone: When the Tigers hit the red zone they were tough to stop. Clemson scored 3 out of 4 chances when in scoring position.
“When we were in the red zone, we were at our best, and that was awesome to see tonight,” Swinney said.
Defensively, Swinney said they fully anticipated Ohio State to get in to the red zone and prepared especially for that scenario.
“Something we really talked about, was we knew that eventually they would get in the red zone…we played great red zone defense.”
Take Two: Clemson displayed their discipline and competitive edge against Ohio State. If they can keep their poise against Alabama, the Tigers have a good chance at redemption from last year’s national championship loss. Swinney acknowledged the changes in last year’s team to this year’s team, noting the large role leadership has made.
“The leadership has been unbelieveable…and then the other thing is we’re a better team than we were this time last year because we have more competitive depth,” Swinney said. “We have more guys that can go play winning football.”
Swinney is looking forward to another week with this 2016 team and a second chance to take down Alabama.
“We get an all-expenses-paid trip to Tampa to play Alabama,” Swinney said. “So that’s another tough week of preparation and get ready to play the best team in the country in Alabama…but you can best believe we’re going to show up.”