Clemson was unable to make a return trip to the National Championship Game for the third consecutive season, falling to Ohio State 49-28 in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans Friday.
Ohio State scored a touchdown on five straight possessions to close the first half in building a 35-14 lead. Travis Etienne, playing in his final collegiate game, picked up just 32 yards on ten carries and was never a factor.
Clemson’s defense entered the game with a stellar reputation and the statistics to back it up. The Tigers gave up just 17.5 points per game this season and held opposing teams to 2.8 yards per rush. But the Buckeyes were more than up to the task, lighting up Brent Venables’ unit for 394 yards in the first half and 639 for the game.
Clemson (10-2), working without offensive coordinator Tony Elliott due to COVID-19, were unable to find a rhythm and keep pace with the streaking Buckeyes. Trevor Lawrence did produce moments of hope for the ACC Champions, throwing for 400 yards and two scores, but Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields and running back Trey Sermon were even better. Fields completed 22 of 28 passes for six touchdowns and Sermon picked up 193 yards rushing and 61 yards receiving.
SUGAR BOWL RECAP: