Travis Etienne reached 1,500 rushing yards in a season for the second consecutive season, becoming the first player in Clemson school history to do that.
The second national semifinal in the College Football Playoff on Saturday features No. 3 Clemson against No. 2 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Playstation Fiesta Bowl Betting Analysis
The first national semifinal on Saturday between No. 1 LSU and No. 4 Oklahoma features the top two finishers in this year’s Heisman Trophy balloting. That’s nice. But neither of those schools have won a national title in the College Football Playoff Era. Meanwhile, both Fiesta Bowl participants, ACC champion Clemson and Big Ten king Ohio State, have.
The Tigers are in the playoff for a fifth straight year and their five overall appearances ties Alabama for the most. Clemson is 5-2 in playoff games, winning the national championship last season and following the 2016 campaign. It is +225 at Sports Interaction to win another. Ohio State is in the CFP for the third time. It won the first title following the 2014 season as the No. 4 seed. OSU is +200 to win the national championship.
One terrific story line here is that the two early favourites for the 2020 Heisman Trophy will be facing off in Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who was the favourite entering this season but wasn’t a finalist, and Ohio State’s Justin Fields, who finished third in the voting.
These schools last played also in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal following the 2016 season. Clemson rolled to a 31-0 victory. Either Clemson or Ohio State likely will be pre-season No. 1 in the country entering the 2020 season and whichever isn’t should be No. 2.
One bad omen as Clemson attempts to repeat: No third seed has won it all in the CFP era. Then again, neither has a No. 1 seed. It has been a No. 2 or No. 4 every year. Clemson, which has won 28 games in a row, nearly lost at North Carolina in late September but has been torching opponents ever since. It has beaten the past eight opponents each by at least 30 points. That’s an NCAA record. Lawrence got off to a bit of an uneven start but also has been spectacular in that stretch and he’d be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft if eligible. There will be plenty of teams “tanking for Trevor” in the 2021 draft.
In a 62-17 rout of Virginia in the ACC title game, the Tigers set a conference title game record in both points and with 619 total yards. Lawrence threw four TD passes, his eighth straight game with at least three. Tee Higgins caught three TD throws vs. Virginia and had 182 total yards. His 27 all-time receiving scores have tied a school record. Travis Etienne reached 1,500 rushing yards in a season for the second consecutive season, becoming the first player in school history to do that. No team can match that trio of skill position talent. Clemson has outscored its opponents by an average of 35.9 points per game this season, a school record. It ranks fourth nationally in scoring offence (46.5 ppg) and No. 1 in scoring defence (10.6 ppg). The Tigers are 8-2 ATS in their past 11 as favorites.
Ohio State Buckeyes
OSU, on a 19-game winning streak, hasn’t missed a beat this year under first-year head coach Ryan Day following the retirement of Urban Meyer after last season. The Buckeyes rank first in the country in scoring at 48.7 ppg and No. 2 in scoring defence at 12.5 ppg. The Buckeyes and Tigers are the only two teams that rank in the Top 10 nationally in scoring offence, scoring defence, total offence and total defence. Fields, a sophomore transfer from Georgia who was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, was absolutely ridiculous in throwing for 2,953 yards with 40 touchdowns and just one interception. He also has rushed for 471 yards and 10 scores. However, Fields says his left knee is only “80-85” per cent healthy and that he will wear a brace in the game.
Fields isn’t the only future NFL first-round pick on this roster. Far from it. Defensive end Chase Young finished fourth in the Heisman voting, won the Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy and almost surely will be picked No. 2 in the 2020 NFL Draft behind LSU QB and Heisman winner Joe Burrow. Jeff Okudah was a Thorpe Award finalist and the first Ohio State cornerback to earn unanimous All-America honors. He’ll be a very high draft pick come April too. Running back J.K. Dobbins was a Doak Walker Award finalist. While Clemson played a very weak schedule this year, largely because the ACC was so down, OSU beat the likes of Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin (twice). The Buckeyes’ closest win was by 11 points over Penn State. OSU has not just covered its past seven as an underdog but won them outright.