Ohio State is right back where it wanted to be all off-season, in the college football playoff with a chance at redemption against Clemson. Friday night’s showdown has so much on the line for the Buckeyes who are chasing a ring and also hoping to get some revenge along the way. Our staff breaks down the game and gives their score predictions below along with some of the other big bowl games being played this weekend.

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Kirk Barton

Justin Fields scores a ton of points with his aces Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson.  Ohio State will need everything and this the healthiest the offense has been since mid season due to the games lost from Covid.  Trey Sermon starts Chapter 2 of his Ezekiel Elliott-like rise through the playoffs.

Defensively, the defense must take the QB down in the first 1o plays.  He has to go down and go down hard.  They need the secondary to play the games of their lives versus the best passing attack they have seen all season.  Stopping Etienne is the key to the entire game.

Ohio State 55 Clemson 49

Ross Fulton

What makes the Clemson-Ohio State semifinal so interesting is the familiarity bred from last year’s matchup. After Ohio State jumped out to a 16-0 lead, Brent Venables sprung a 3-3-3 look on the Buckeyes that kept them off-balance until the fourth quarter. Ohio State should be prepared for such looks, and know that regardless of pre and post-snap movement, the keys against the Clemson defense remain the same. The Buckeyes need to control the line of scrimmage with their zone run game, feature plenty of quick outside stem routes and snag, and look to single up Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson on the Tigers’ safeties. 

Defensively, Ohio State largely limited the Clemson offense last year except for giving up explosive plays to Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne when they got in space while the Buckeyes’ backs were turned in man coverage. This year by both necessity and design, expect Ohio State to play a lot more nickel and cover 3 and try to keep the football in front. The Buckeye interior needs to limit the Clemson run game and Ohio State then needs to limit explosive plays, forcing Clemson to sustain drives with the mid-range passing game. Look for Justin Fields to have a big bounce back with Olave’s return, and be more active running the football then he has been for much of his career.

Ohio State 32 Clemson 29

Tony Gerdeman

The problem with this game is that no matter how much Ohio State may
have improved, the weak spots are still weak spots. The secondary is
still a concern and it doesn’t help that they’re facing the best
quarterback prospect in football since Andrew Luck. Granted, the
receivers aren’t as good as they were a year ago, but they may not
need to be. Trevor Lawrence is deadly on rollouts, which should
continue as they look to negate Ohio State’s pass rush. That may
actually help the Buckeyes, however, as it will eliminate one half of
the throwing field. I do expect the Buckeyes to run the ball and they
may even try to shorten the game a bit. But if they aren’t effective
in the red zone both offensively and defensively, this will be another
tough Clemson win. Combine those struggles with the concerns about
OSU’s secondary and I’m going with the Tigers here.

Clemson 31, Ohio State 27

Marc Givler

Ohio State is still looking to get the monkey off its back against Clemson and I view this year’s matchup as a pretty even one. The Buckeyes will certainly have the motivation factor on their side but have yet to really find a consistent groove, in large part due to the COVID-related choppiness of this season.

If there is one matchup in this game that is concerning for me, it is the Ohio State secondary. While I do not think Clemson has the high end playmakers on the outside that it had a year ago, Ohio State has struggled mightily to defend the pass this season and a locked in Trevor Lawrence could pose a serious problem on that front as I don’t believe Northwestern had the weapons to really attack the Buckeyes and therefore am not convinced that the secondary issues have been solved.

I think Ohio State would be best served trying to establish the run and shortening the game and keeping Lawrence off the field but I’m just not sure the defense will come up with enough stops in this game. I think Clemson makes one or two more plays and wins a close one.

Clemson 35 Ohio State 31

Alex Gleitman

I think Ohio State at it’s best is good enough to not only win this game but also win the national title. My problem is that I don’t think we’ve seen the Buckeyes at their best at any point in 2020. Against Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers, and Indiana there was one half in those games that wasn’t exactly great. The Northwestern game wasn’t their best showing either. There was a dominant win against Michigan State but with only 75-percent of the roster. Of course, there were cancellations against Maryland, Illinois, and Michigan. 

Long story short is that when Ohio State has played they haven’t played up to their potential or even been at full strength. They didn’t have spring ball, had their season shortened then cancelled then reinstated without much prep time. They then played six games, a couple of those with a fraction of their roster, and a schedule in the back half of the year that saw them play every other week. I don’t feel like they’ve had the opportunity to become the team they are capable of, and that concerns me a ton coming into a game against an equally-talented team that has indeed had that chance, and has shown their growth over 10 games, without having to deal with on-again-off-again situations.

Is OSU capable of putting on their best showing of the season and beating Clemson? Absolutely. Do I think that’s going to happen? Odds are not in their favor. I think the Buckeyes fight to the end, but come up short once again when it comes to trying to topple the Tigers.

Clemson 41 Ohio State 34

Bill Greene

Ohio State 35 Clemson 31

Check out Bill’s in-depth preview/analysis of the game


Clemson vs Ohio State—to me?  This is “The Big One” as we have unsettled business from last year’s matchup.    Huge challenge for the Buckeyes as I think last year’s team was better–and still found a way to lose the game.  Having said that, I think there are several favorable trends for the Bucks heading into this one that I think they can exploit.

1) Ohio State will be able to run the ball on Clemson.   Clemson is talented up front–but young–and OSU has developed a running game that in a lot of ways is perfectly designed to combat Clemson’s attacking and flowing style of play.   OSU was gashing the Tigers with the cutback last year, and then JK’s ankle got rolled up.   Sermon is coming in at 100% and LOVES to cut back–advantage OSU–and that’s a big one

2) Strength of OSU’s defense is the front four as I’ve been saying all year.   Clemson’s offensive line is good, but will not have their way.  I think this is another area that Ohio State will win more battles than they lose.  If they can stop Etienne they can at least slow Lawrence down, as the Clemson WR crew isn’t super elite.

3)  Love OSU as an underdog.  Traditionally this has been a great spot for the Buckeyes—and with Dabo doubling down on the dis-respect?  I think we will see the best 60 minutes of the year from OSU

I’ve got Ohio State winning a thriller 38-34 in a back and forth affair—and then on to Bama.

Tom Orr

If they played the 2019 Fiesta Bowl between Ohio State and Clemson 10
times, the Buckeyes probably win eight of them. Unfortunately for the
Buckeyes, that night in Glendale, Clemson caught just enough breaks to

The 2020 Buckeyes probably aren’t quite as good as their 2019
counterparts, and they may not be quite as good as 2020 Clemson,

If Ohio State can control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the
ball, pound the ball on the ground and keep Trevor Lawrence off the
field, they absolutely could win. But there are plenty of concerns as
well. Will the defensive backfield be able to hold up against
Clemson’s passing attack? Will Justin Fields’ thumb allow him to throw
the ball accurately and down the field?

This should be another very exciting game, and if they played it 10
times, the Buckeyes probably win four. But they’ll only play it once.

Clemson 38, Ohio State 35

Other Big Bowl/CFP Predictions

Alabama/Notre DameBamaBamaBamaBamaBamaBamaBamaBama
Oregon/Iowa StateOregonIowa StateOregonIowa StateOregonOregonOregonIowa State

Steamboat Dry Goods “Pick Of The Week”

Each week our members will have an opportunity to win a gift set from our friends at Steamboat Dry Goods for getting the closest to picking the score of the Ohio State game.

You must submit your pick in our designated forum thread to be eligible to win the prize. 

In case of a tie, there will be a tie-breaker each week. This week’s tie-breaker: How many RECEIVING YARDS will Chris Olave have against Clemson?

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