In a matchup that looks as close as the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl does on paper, picking out an accurate prediction for a score is a difficult task. Even with the odds of guessing the final tally slim at best, there are a few things that could happen in the semifinal matchup.
Here are a list of possible things to come when the Buckeyes square off against the Tigers.
Deshaun Watson’s career day
With the way OSU’s secondary has been playing all season, Clemson junior quarterback Deshaun Watson lighting up the scoreboard seems unlikely. Although the Tigers benefit from a solid backfield, it will be all about the passing game for coach Dabo Swinney and his squad.
All season long, OSU has been able to complement each other when things get dicey. Although he has had a great year, Buckeyes’ redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett has made some mistakes that have not cost his team.
Watson, on the other hand, will need to carry the brunt of the load if he hopes to take the Tigers back to the national championship game. And on Saturday, he has the chance to do just that.
OSU has been the best in the country at returning picks for touchdowns, but might not get a chance to do so. A key to making Watson force the ball into tight coverage is a tough pass rush, and the Buckeyes could struggle to create pressure against a solid Clemson offensive line.
If Clemson wins, Watson will most likely have added the game of his life to his resume. Regardless, expect some fireworks from him.
Mike Weber shows he’s more than a freshman
There’s little to no doubt that OSU redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber will one day be an outstanding talent in the Buckeyes’ backfield. After over 1,000 yards to go along with nine touchdowns, the first-year running back is well on his way to becoming one of the great running backs to run the ball in a scarlet and gray uniform.
Against a formidable defense like Clemson’s, success is hard to come by. But the bruising, smashmouth style of Weber might just be what the doctor ordered to wear down the Tigers.
After a disappointing 26-yard game against the Wolverines, Weber will be hungry to prove his worth on the biggest stage of the year. On Thursday, he expressed just how grateful he was to be in the position he is now.
“It’s an honor. There’s a lot of great running backs that came through here — from Archie Griffin to Zeke (Ezekiel Elliott),” he said. “It’s good to be a part of that and to say I played for Ohio State. And to play in that category of guys, it’s a blessing. I thank God for it every day.”
Weber should be crossing the goal line fairly early in the contest.
Nick Bosa will make an impact
A freshman defensive lineman who plays on passing downs nearly exclusively does not seem like the guy who would make a difference. Then again, most players that fit this description don’t have the last name Bosa.
OSU freshman defensive end Nick Bosa has flashed his insane ability from time to time this year. He’s well on pace with the numbers his brother Joey put up during his time in Columbus, and Saturday is a chance for him to make a name for himself.
Clemson’s offensive line has been solid all year, but the ultra-confident Bosa, who said he expected to play a lot when he arrived on campus, could create problems for Watson.
He might not have double-digit tackles when the Fiesta Bowl is over, but expect to see his name in the sack column.