This year’s Fiesta Bowl semifinal Playoff game between Clemson and Ohio State looks as though it’s the best semifinal matchup of the two, at least on paper. On virtually every side of the ball, both teams have some talented playmakers, which should make for a great game. There are several intriguing matchups to look at during this game.
Both OSU’s J.T. Barrett and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson have talented arms but can make plays on the run, too. Buckeyes running back Mike Weber is a good complement to Barrett, as is Clemson’s Wayne Gallman. Oh, and both defenses rank inside the top 10, according to S&P+, in case you were worried this game wasn’t going to be evenly matched across the board.
As opposed to the expectedly lopsided Peach Bowl between Alabama and Washington, the second semifinal this year should be an absolute treat to watch.
How to watch, stream, and listen
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN. The announcers are Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, and Samantha Ponder.
Online streaming: You can catch this one on WatchESPN.
Spread: OSU is a 3-point favorite.
Three big things to know
1. This game may come down to quarterbacks. Both Barrett and Watson have similar capabilities, but whichever is the biggest run threat could give his team an edge. Barrett has rushed for 847 yards and nine touchdowns on the season, as opposed to Watson’s 529 yards and six touchdowns. Watson is a bit more of a north-and-south runner, with Barrett being more east and west.
2. These two played nearly two years ago. These teams met in the 2014 Orange Bowl. Clemson got the victory, beating OSU 40-35. Although that wasn’t a Playoff game — the system hadn’t begun just yet — this can still be classified as a revenge game.
3. This is Clemson’s shot at revenge. Not revenge over Ohio State, but rather Alabama. The Tigers fell short of beating Alabama in last year’s College Football Playoff National Championship. Beating OSU is one of the final hurdles if the Tigers want a rematch with the Tide this season. Ohio State is definitely no cakewalk, so a victory won’t come easily for the Tigers.