College Football Playoff Predictions pt. 2December 31, 2016
The Clemson vs Ohio State matchup may be the most explosive game this season with Deshaun Watson and JT Barrett going up against each other, but despite this impressive matchup, the game will not come down to just their individual performances. Clemson’s defense is great, but it’s not the same dominant force like it was last year, which is especially true for the secondary as they’ve allowed 188.2 yards per game compared to last season’s 187.7 yards per game. Despite the close difference in offensive yards per game, Clemson is allowing offensive turnovers compared to last season. Ohio State’s passing attack, led by JT Barrett’s strong arm, produces an average of 221.2 passing yards a game. This doesn’t include Barrett’s ability to also be a significant rusher for Ohio State. This Ohio State offense consists of the speedy back Curtis Samuel, who helped OSU rush for an insane average of 258.3 yards a game and an average of 5.5 yards per carry. Carlos Watkins of Clemson will try to limit this as he is a powerful force that plugs up the inside and puts pressure on the quarterback. To be successful, Ohio State needs to stay true to their unique gameplay and run a balanced offense, especially since games that didn’t feature this balanced offense were almost a disaster. They also need to spread Samuel out to the side, as he’s a dangerous threat at wide out. Clemson must control and stop JT Barrett from running the ball and forcing him to throw. They must also keep Curtis Samuel from getting to the outside and break away like he normally does.
Clemson offensive attack is led by 2015 Heisman runner up Deshaun Watson, who passes for an average of 332.6 yards a game, which is an insane amount for a college team, especially one playing in the ACC. Ohio state’s secondary is one of the best in the country as they give up an average of only 164.5 yards a game with playmakers Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker roaming the field and shutting players down. Like Barrett, Watson can also rush really well, and along with the running backs, they average a total of 173.4 yards per game. This isn’t a large sum, but takes pressure off of the passing attack. True freshman and defensive end Nick Bosa will try to stop the running and put constant pressure on Deshaun Watson. For Clemson they must try to run more efficiently and take some of the load off on the passing attack. They must also try for shorter completions to try to open up larger plays later on. The secondary must come up with turnovers like usual and the defensive line must get to the quarterback and keep him in check to win. My final prediction in a game of great defensive plays and even better offensive drives will be Ohio State beating Clemson 44-38.
Written by Domenic Buccini