OH-IO! Ohio State ready to face Clemson in Fiesta Bowl Saturday night
GLENDALE, Arizona — Ohio State and Clemson will meet in the semifinals of the College Football Playoff when they square off Dec. 31 in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.
Both teams have been selected for the four-team playoff for the second time in the three-year history. The Tigers reached the national championship game before suffering a 45-40 loss to Alabama last season, while the Buckeyes defeated the Crimson Tide and Oregon en route to the 2014 title.
Ohio State is the first team to be selected for the College Football Playoff without winning its conference championship. The Buckeyes missed out on the Big Ten title game thanks to a 24-21 midseason loss at Penn State, but they won their last five games of the regular season, including a double-overtime win over sixth-ranked Michigan. The Nittany Lions defeated Wisconsin 38-31 in the Big Ten championship game but finished at No. 5 in the playoff rankings.
For all the big-name offensive stars on both sides, the defenses could end up telling the story. Ohio State ranks in the top six nationally in passing defense, total defense and scoring defense, and the Buckeyes have piled up 19 interceptions – the fourth-most in the country – which bodes well against star Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, who has thrown 15 interceptions, though only two in the past three games. The Tigers boast a well-balanced unit that ranks ninth in total defense, a necessity against the Buckeyes’ powerful ground game.
The game airs at 7 p.m. Saturday on ESPN.