The No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes will challenge the No. 2 Clemson Tigers in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl, a College Football Playoff semifinal matchup.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Saturday, ESPN. The announcers are Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, and Samantha Ponder
Radio: 97.1 The Fan or The Ohio State IMG Radio Network. Also available on ESPN3.
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Spread: Ohio State opened as a 3-point favorite. The line’s stayed pretty static with OSU as much as a 3.5-point favorite at a few books.
Ohio State became the first non-conference champion to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff, where they’ll square off with Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday night. The Buckeyes were able to solidify their playoff spot with a dramatic victory in double overtime last month against Michigan. Ohio State rallied from a 10-point second half deficit to force overtime. The Wolverines and Buckeyes traded touchdowns in the first overtime period before a Curtis Samuel 15-yard run gave Ohio State their fifth consecutive win over their rival. The win allowed Ohio State to improve to 10-2 under Urban Meyer in games where they trailed at halftime.
The Ohio State head coach has just five losses during his five years in Columbus, with one of those losses coming to Clemson in the 2014 Orange Bowl. Ohio State held a nine-point lead in the second half against Clemson, but in the end Sammy Watkins and the Tigers were just too much for the Buckeyes to hold at bay. Watkins was named Orange Bowl MVP for his performance, as he caught 16 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns. The Buckeyes and Tigers had met one other time prior to the 2014 Orange Bowl, with Clemson squeezing by Ohio State 17-15 in the infamous 1978 Gator Bowl, where Woody Hayes punched Clemson’s Charlie Bauman.
After losing a big chunk of last year’s starters to the NFL, Ohio State entered this year with just six returning starters, which was fewest among FBS teams. The Buckeyes got off to a hot start this year, handling a road test against Oklahoma in the third week of the season. Ohio State went through the first six games of the season unscathed before blowing a fourth quarter lead to Penn State in State College. The Buckeyes took care of business in the final five games of the season, and the College Football Playoff committee felt Ohio State’s resumé was worthy of being a part of the four-team playoff.
Much like Ohio State, Clemson survived an upset by a team from Pennsylvania but still did enough in the eyes of the committee to be a part of the third College Football Playoff. The Tigers opened the season with a road win at Auburn, and added wins over Louisville and Florida State during the regular season before thwarting Virginia Tech’s upset attempt in the ACC Championship Game. Now after making it to last year’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game and falling to Alabama, Clemson has unfinished business as they try to take home this year’s title.