Clemson Tigers shut out Ohio State, set up national championship rematch with Alabama

The Clemson Tigers completely dominated Ohio State 31-0 at the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday night in Glendale, and now we’re set for a rematch of last year’s national title game vs Alabama.

And, considering how well Dabo Swinney’s squad played on Saturday evening, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were to win this time.

Make no mistake about it: the Tigers were clearly better than Ohio State on Saturday evening. Clemson’s defense put together one if its best outings of the season, limiting the Buckeyes to a season-low 215 yards and only nine first downs. It was especially impressive on third down, allowing Ohio State to convert on only three of 14 of its third down opportunities. Not surprisingly, Clemson shut out the Buckeyes, which was the first time an Urban Meyer-coached team failed to get on the scoreboard.

The Tiger offense was equally impressive. Sure, the team did turn the ball over twice, but that’s the only bad thing you can say about how they played. Led by Wayne Gallman and Deshaun Watson, the Clemson ground game ran for 205 yards against an Ohio State D that came into the contest with the 12th-best run defense in the nation. And despite throwing two picks, Watson had another solid outing through the air, completing 23 of 36 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown.

In all, the Tigers racked up 470 yards of total offense and held the ball for almost 36 minutes. They also did a great job of keeping the chains moving, converting on 8 of 17 third down opportunities.

Clemson’s dominant performance on Saturday evening proved that the Tigers are more than capable of winning the national championship. Yes, Alabama looked impressive in its 24-7 over Washington. However, it’s very tough to ignore just how well Clemson played against Ohio State. The Tiger defense held the Buckeye ground game – which was four spots higher than Alabama heading into Saturday night’s contest – to its lowest output of the season. Considering that the Clemson offense averaged 503.4 yards against ranked opponents during the regular season, there’s no reason to think that it can’t move the ball against the Crimson Tide defense again this year. After all, Saturday night’s 470-yard effort was the fourth time this season that the Tigers eclipsed the 450-yard barrier against a top 20 defense.

It’s tough to argue with those results. Expect for Clemson to challenge Alabama in a contest that should be just as exciting as last year’s matchup was.

About Terry P. Johnson

Terry Johnson is the Associate Editor for The Student Section. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation.