A rematch of the 2019 Fiesta Bowl semifinal is on tap when the #2 Clemson Tigers (10-1) and #3 Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0) get together in the 2020 Sugar Bowl. The Tigers left the desert with a 29-23 victory last season and have an all-time mark of 4-0 against the Buckeyes. Kickoff is at 8 p.m. EST inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. Clemson is a 7.5-point favorite in the semifinal rematch, according to oddsmakers.
What to Know – Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State enters the semifinals with just six games played this season and won the Big Ten Championship only after the conference changed the rules to allow them in. The Buckeyes looked rusty at times, with a seven-point victory over Indiana during the regular season and just 22 total points against Northwestern in the conference championship.
Justin Fields threw two more interceptions this season (5) in six games than he did during a full slate of contests last season. Fields finished the shortened season with 1,521 yards passing, and 15 touchdowns threw the air with 274 yards rushing and five scores on the ground.
A pair of running backs, Trey Sermon (84 carries, 675 yards, three touchdowns) and Master Teague III (89 carries, 449 yards, six touchdowns), led the OSU backfield that averaged 275.7 yards per game on the ground.
Fields targets two stellar wideouts in the passing game in Garrett Wilson (38 receptions, 621 yards, five touchdowns) and Chris Olave (36 receptions, 528 yards, five touchdowns). The two route runners accounted for over 75-percent of the receiving yards for Ohio State’s passing game.
What to Know – Clemson Tigers
Clemson traveled to South Bend without star quarterback Trevor Lawrence and a handful of defensive players and dropped their only loss of the season to the Irish (47-40) in double overtime. With Lawrence and those defenders back, the Tigers took care of the Irish in a 34-10 rout in the conference title game.
Lawrence put together another fantastic campaign under center, throwing for 2,753 yards and 22 touchdowns with just four picks. The projected top pick in the 2021 NFL draft was also second on the team in rushing with 211 yards and seven touchdowns.
Travis Etienne elected to return for his senior season and added 882 yards and 13 touchdowns to his collegiate total. Like past seasons, Etienne was an excellent receiver, hauling in 44 catches for 524 yards.
Wide receiver Amari Rodgers was 34 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark with 966 yards behind 69 receptions. Rodgers hauled in a team-high seven touchdowns. Cornell Powell (45 receptions, 743 yards, five touchdowns) played opposite of Rodgers and is a veteran pass-catcher with a good relationship with Lawrence like Rodgers.
The Pick is In
The Buckeyes have mentioned that they have been looking forward to this rematch since last season, so you can bet Ohio State will be focused and ready to play. After a close first half, the talent and coaching of Clemson will kick in. Clemson’s defense will be the difference in this game, causing enough stops for the Tigers to win comfortably and keep their perfect record against the Buckeyes intact.
The Pick: Clemson -7.5