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Football: Tigers trounce Ohio State, beat Buckeyes 31-0 for Fiesta Bowl victory

OSU redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett bows his head as he leaves the field following the Buckeyes’ 31-0 loss against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo Editor

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Few could have foreseen just how bad the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes were going to play in the first half of the 2016 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. Even fewer would have picked Clemson to systematically demolish an Urban Meyer led team in the postseason, as the Tigers shutout OSU 31-0, the first shutout against the Buckeyes in over 20 year.

Junior quarterback Deshaun Watson and the Tigers outplayed OSU in every way possible, racking up 470 yards to the Buckeyes’ 215. Although the signal caller committed two turnovers, his poise and accurate passing paired with a smothering defense guided Clemson to a national championship bid against Alabama.

After the game, redshirt junior guard Billy Price announced he would be returning to OSU next season. However, it was one of few positives to take away from such a lackluster performance.

“Expected a much better performance,” Meyer said. “Some guys played their tails off. Some other guys didn’t execute very well.”

Watson sat for the tail end of the fourth quarter, finishing with 259 yards and a touchdown through the air, with two scores on the ground.

OSU redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett looked rattled in the first half, going 12-for-19 for 80 yards, while picking up 5 yards on six carries. He ended the game with 125 total yards.

OSU lacked a run game for much of the evening, picking up just 8 first-half rushing yards and 81 overall. Redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber had just one first-half carry, before receiving three second-half touches for just 17 yards.  

The game was dominated by swing passes and senior wide receiver Mike Williams slant routes. Midway through the first, Williams broke free over the middle on a slant for a 37-yard scamper that set up a Clemson field goal to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead.

That Clemson lead would only grow as the Buckeyes failed to score. For the first time in Meyer’s career, he was shutout. Redshirt senior center Pat Elflein, who played his last game with the Buckeyes Saturday, said there was little for OSU to hang their hat on. 

“Not really,” he said. “Our defense kept trying to keep us in it with some turnovers and all that, and we just couldn’t get it going.”

The Tigers scored two more times before halftime, as Watson trotted in from a yard out before throwing a beautiful lob pass to redshirt sophomore running back C.J. Fuller. The game slowly slipped out of reach for the Scarlet and Gray from that point on.

After Weber fumbled on just his second carry of the day, Williams responded with a slot reception for 19 yards, setting up another Tigers field goal attempt. Although OSU redshirt freshman defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones clearly crossed the line of scrimmage before the kick, no flag was thrown and the ball sailed wide left.

Even with the help, OSU was ineffective on offense much like it had been all night. Although a sack on Watson by redshirt sophomore defensive end Sam Hubbard and redshirt junior defensive end Tyquan Lewis gave the Buckeyes the ball once again, OSU was pushed back and forced to punt for the seventh time.

A 7-yard touchdown rush for Watson drove home what felt like the final nail in the coffin for the Buckeyes, before Barrett threw an interception to Clemson senior safety Cordea Tankersly. Clemson put it in cruise control with a 24-0 lead.

A 7-yard Gallman touchdown gave the Tigers a 31-0 lead, and took every ounce of fight out of the Buckeyes. For the first time since 1993, the Scarlet and Gray were shutout by an opponent.

The Tigers are now 9-0 in 2016 after scoring the first points of the game, while the Buckeyes fall to 10-3 under Meyer when trailing at halftime.

Although the game was mostly a wash for the Buckeyes, Lewis offered some encouraging words about the team. Lewis said the young members of the team put forth incredible efforts this season, and OSU can grow from this loss.

“You always face adversity,” Lewis said. “The main thing you take away from it is getting better. Climbing over that mountain.”

The Buckeyes finished the year 11-2, while Clemson is now 13-1, and will travel to Tampa Bay, Florida, to face the Alabama Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 9.

5 comments

  1. The team actually over-achieved this past season with such a young group of players. They did well to have an impressive record and to reach the semi-final, however, they were probably not really ready to compete in the series. Offensive struggles were particularly evident during the latter part of the season and were exposed against Clemson. Hopefully they will take the experience with them and be ready for the opportunity to excel in 2017.

  2. They lost both lines of scrimmage. Game over. Barrett never had a chance and when he did, as often happened this season, he was off target. Just a complete dominating performance by Clemson. ‘Bama better be ready. They didn’t look so great yesterday, saved by their outstanding defense. Amazing the same two teams as last year are going for the Gold.

  3. Douglas Ritterling

    The Buckeyes were not expected to perform well this year after losing so many starters to the NFL and graduation. Many suggested that a 6-4 regular season could be expected. For this team to accomplish a second appearance in the CFP is nothing short of amazing. This speaks volumes about Coach Meyer’s ability to restock the troops with young talent. I am one OSU alumnus who is very proud of their 2016 accomplishments!

  4. The Buckeyes should not have been in this game…period. While I perfectly understand the loss of talent to the NFL and graduations, and realize that did more than expected…please remember this is not just any team or school, this is The Ohio State University…how does a team fall so low to not scoring one single point in a bowl game ? This is not just an issue of talent, its a clear reflection of poor coaching, and play calling that possessed absolutely no imagination what-so-ever ! This team was over ranked from day one, and every element of their weakness was exploited in the Fiesta Bowl, even with more than a month to prepare for this game. I pray that Urban takes the appropriate actions to resolve the offensive woes of this season…As Always, Go Buckeyes !!! OH

  5. Dabo Swinney has a bunch of homosexual criminals on his team’s Defense that deliberately grab other team’s players’ asses after the end of plays, and he calls himself a “good Christian”?!!!!!!!!!

    This is not a psychological warfare by his teams’ homosexuals, this is an unethical immoral criminal activity by his team that he evidently tolerates and encourages.

    Other teams took notice and will start to retaliate down the road. Clemson has a DISGUSTING bunch of homosexual criminals on that team.

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