The No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0) and the No. 2 Clemson Tigers (10-1) will meet in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day in the second game of the College Football Playoff Semifinal. According to the College Football Power Index, Clemson has faced the 36th toughest schedule, and Ohio State has faced the 67th toughest schedule in the country this season. The winner of this game will face either Alabama or Notre Dame for the national championship. These teams will be meeting in the CFP semifinals for the second straight season. Clemson defeated Ohio State 29-23 on December 28, 2019. The Tigers then lost 42-25 to LSU in the CFP National Championship two weeks later.
On December 19, Ohio State captured the Big Ten championship with a 22-10 win against Northwestern. Clemson is coming off of capturing the ACC title with a 34-10 victory against Notre Dame.
This game will also feature two of the top potential quarterback prospects for the 2021 NFL draft with Trevor Lawerence and Justin Fields.
(Late line movements and injury reports were updated on Thursday evening.)
The line has moved slightly toward Ohio State for this contest as the week has gone on. Clemson opened as an 8.5-point favorite when the lines came out and, as of Thursday evening, now stands as a seven or 7.5-point favorite at the majority of sportsbooks for this contest. 63 percent of the bets ATS are backing the Tigers giving the points as they look to earn the victory in the Sugar Bowl. The winner advances to next week’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
The total for this contest has moved up slightly during this week. After opening at 64.5 points, the total has moved up to 67 or 67.5 points at the majority of sportsbooks. A solid 64 percent of the bets on the total for this contest are backing this one going over the number.
Game-time Weather: The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is a retractable-roof stadium. That means that weather will not be a factor here as it will be a toasty 68 degrees indoors with no wind or precipitation in the forecast.
Buckeyes make playoffs with just six games playedIn an unusual season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ohio State Buckeyes have qualified to the College Football Playoff, but not without controversy. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney ranked Ohio State No. 11 in his final coaches poll. The argument against Ohio State is that the Buckeyes were allowed to play Northwestern for the Big Ten championship despite only playing five regular-season Big Ten games due to their match-ups against Illinois and Michigan being canceled. Despite playing five fewer games than Clemson, the Buckeyes are in the playoffs and will get their chance to prove themselves against Swinneys's Clemson team for the second year in-a-row.
The Buckeyes have been the most prolific offense in the Big Ten and rank sixth in the nation averaging 529.2 yards per game this season, which was 99 yards a game more than any other team in their conference. The Buckeyes are also first in the conference with 42.5 points scored per game, and their 275.7 rushing yards per game is also the fifth highest in the nation. Ohio State is fifth in the Big Ten and 40th in the country with 253.3 passing yards per contest.
Ohio State is coming off a 22-10 win as an 18 point favorite against Northwest in the Big Ten Championship gamey. The Buckeyes trailed 10-6 at halftime before scoring all 16 of the game's second-half points. Ohio State outgained the Wildcats 513 to 329 in total yards and committed two turnovers compared to three for Northwestern. Quarterback Justin Fields struggled to throw the ball, completing 12 of 27 passes for 114 passes with two interceptions. The Buckeyes rushing game had a massive performance racking up 399 yards on 44 carries for 9.1 yards per attempt. Trey Sermon led the way with 331 of teams rushing yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns.
Fields has completed 72.6% of his passes this season with 15 touchdowns, five interceptions, and 1,521 yards. Fields has also rushed for 274 yards on 4.1 yards per attempt and five touchdowns. In last season's playoff game against Clemson, Fields went 30 of 46 passing for 320 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Fields was not a factor rushing against the Tigers last season, as he was sacked four times and only picked up 13 rushing yards in the game.
Defensively Ohio State is fifth in the Big Ten, allowing 21 points and 358 total yards per game. The Buckeyes have given up a conference worst 261.3 yards per game against the pass but rank second, holding opponents to 96.7 yards on the ground.
Ohio State Injury Report:
OUT: CB Cameron Brown, DL Jacolbe Cowan, TE Patrick Gurd, WR Jaylen Harris, LB Cade Kacherski, LS Roen McCullough, DT Jaden McKenzie, WR Alec Taylor, QB Daniel Vanatsky, S Kourt Williams
Questionable: LB Baron Browning, RB Steele Chambers, P Drue Chrisman, WR Mookie Cooper, DL Aaron Cox, LB Tommy Eichenberg, DE Tyler Friday, S Marcus Hooker, DE Javontae Jean-Baptiste, QB Jagger LaRoe, CB Lloyd McFarquhar, WR Chris Olave, TE Corey Rau, TE Joe Royer, LB Ben Schmiesinger, WR Gee Scott Jr., S Bryson Shaw, OL Ryan Smith, WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Clemson gets revenge on Notre DameThe Clemson Tigers are 10-1 on the season and in the College Football Playoffs for the fifth time in the last six seasons. The Tigers' only loss this season came on the road, 47-40 at Notre Dame on November 7. Trevor Lawerence did not play in the loss due to testing positive for COVID-19. With Lawerence back, Clemson was able to get revenge in the ACC Championship game with a 34-10 win against the Fighting Irish, outgaining Notre Dame 541 to 263 in total yards. Lawrence completed 25 of 36 passes for 322 yards with two touchdowns and one interception and rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown. Travis Etienne rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown and 10 carries.
Lawerence has played in nine games on the season, completed 69.2% of his passes for 2,753 yards with 22 touchdowns and four interceptions. Lawerence has added 211 yards and seven touchdowns with his feet on 3.6 yards per attempt. Lawerence was 18 of 33 for 259 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in last year's playoff win over the Buckeyes and also added 107 yards and a touchdown rushing.
The Tigers are the highest-scoring team in the ACC and the fourth highest-scoring team in the country this season, averaging 44.9 points per game. Clemson's 343.8 passing yards per game is also a conference-best. The running game is eighth in the ACC with 163.8 rushing yards per game, led by All-American running back Travis Etienne, who has 882 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns, and averages 5.6 yards per carry.
Defensively the Tigers allow just 17.5 points, which is 11th in the country. The Tigers are also sixth in the country and first in the conference allowing just 298.5 yards per game. Clemson is second in the ACC, allowing 99.8 rushing yards and 198.6 passing yards per game.
Clemson Injury Report:
OUT: DE Justin Foster, RB Ty Lucas, CB Jack McCall, LB Matt McMahan, WR Joseph Ngata, QB Taisun Phommachanh, TE Luke Price, WR Justyn Ross, OL John Williams
Questionable: WR Tye Herbstreit, WR Drew Swinney, DE Xavier Thomas, LB Jake Venables
- Clemson is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in the previous game.
- Ohio State is 20-8 ATS in their last 28 games as an underdog
- Ohio State is 5-2 ATS in their last 7 bowl games