Clemson (12-1) vs Ohio State (11-1)
This should be, by far, the best match up of the major Bowl games today. Clemson and Ohio State are so evenly matched it is difficult to pick a winner with any objective certainty. Each team has been here before, and each team has an established star at quarterback and a plethora of talent across the board.
When Clemson Has The Ball: DeShaun Watson, despite not fulfilling his Heisman potential this year, a great college quarterback. His skills don’t map to the NFL exactly, but this isn’t the NFL. WIth Mike Williams as his primary target and Artavis Scott and Jordan Leggett working underneath Clemson has a dynamic passing attack. Wayne Gallman eked out a 1000 yard season and added 15 touchdowns to give Clemson a well balanced attack. Raekwon McMillan is the Buckeyes defensive leader and he will be busy all day.
When Ohio State Has The Ball: Ohio State has three players that rushed for over 700 yards, led by Mike Weber. JT Barrett is equally adept at throwing the ball as he is at running it but the Buckeyes leading receiver, by far, is second string running back, Curtis Samuel. Urban Meyer is a great offensive coach that gets the most out of his players and has the ability to keep opposing defense off guard but Clemson has played against Louisville and Auburn already, both offenses which are comparable to Ohio State.
Analysis: No team in college football is better on third down than Clemson who enjoy a 22 point swing in terms of offensive and defensive 3rd down conversions (51-29%.) Ohio State is +16 in turnover margin while Clemson is even. Both teams have been here in recent years and have veteran coaching staffs that know how to prepare for elite opponents. Clemson’s advantage on third downs should be the difference, but their propensity to turn the ball over will catch up to them.
Prediction: Ohio State 31 Clemson 30