If you haven’t heard, folksy lightning rod and all-around Boomer-opinion-haver Dabo Swinney submitted his coaches poll ballot with Ohio State ranked 11th. Not 3rd, nor 8th, nor even 10th. But an obvious poke-in-the-eye 11th. Ohio State, by Mr. William Christopher Swinney’s reckoning, was not even among the 10 best teams in the nation. To hear him tell it, Ohio State couldn’t be one of the best teams in the country because the B1G played a shorter, 9-game schedule and the Buckeyes had 3 games canceled due to COVID-19. If that logic sounds suspect to you, congratulations on your obviously functioning cerebrum. One can only wonder if Dabo also believes he is faster than Usain Bolt because he runs more miles in a week.
At any rate, the Clemson Tigers entered the Sugar Bowl as 7 point favorites over an Ohio State team that struggled early against Northwestern in the B1G CCG before grinding the ‘Cats defense into dust underneath Trey Sermon’s feet. For those of you following at home, the Sugar Bowl undercard bouts included the VRBO Citrus Bowl. This classic New Year’s Day tilt saw the aforementioned Wildcats (with a paltry 8 games to their name) toy with the 6-wins-in-the-SEC-Pawwwwlllll Auburn Tigers like maimed prey doomed for consumption. This, dear reader, is called foreshadowing.
Foreshadowing is an important literary device, useful for piquing curiosity or arousing suspicion. It can also be downright alarming for those of us (say, your humble author) who laid a grand on Clemson as an emotional hedge against the inevitable beating Trevor Lawrence would hand the weak OSU secondary. (Turn to page -1000 to see what happened!)
Ryan Day was quoted as saying Justin Fields didn’t need to be extraordinary to win the game, but that he only needed to be himself. Joke’s on all of us, since “being himself” looks like 6 TD passes. In 2019, he entered OSU lore for coming back from a knee injury to throw a TD strike against Michigan. In 2020, he cemented his place by shrugging off a bone-jarring dirty hit from Targeting Airways frequent flyer James Skalski (ejected from CFP Championship last year as well) to deliver another scoring pass.
Trey Sermon reprised his performance from Indianapolis, raising his total to 524 yards in the last 8 quarters—the highest two-game rushing total in OSU history.
Trevor Lawrence is unlikely to win the Heisman, but he’s lucky the voting is over. Somehow the worst OSU secondary in recent memory held him to 8.3 ypa and only 2 passing TDs. He amassed 400 yds on 33 completions, which is a great raw stat but pales against Fields’ 13.8 ypa and 6 TDs on 22 completions.
Lawrence attempted a whopping 71% more passes than Fields—48 vs 28—but completed only 50% more. They finished within 15 yards of one another in total production. Fields ended the night with a 78% completion rate, shredding the only defense ranked higher than Northwestern in F+ stats for 427 all-purpose yards.
This win was a long time coming for Buckeye fans, who have rightfully loathed Clemson since the fateful night Charlie Bauman viciously attacked Woody Hayes’ fist. After losing twice to Clemson under Urban Meyer and being robbed of a win last year by the worst non-fumble call in the history of the sport, the Buckeyes finally saved America from the scourge of Dabo.