Matt Connolly

Five story lines for Clemson vs. Ohio State

1. Can Ohio State’s offensive line block Clemson’s defensive front?

Dabo Swinney’s Tigers rank third in the nation in sacks with 46, while the Buckeyes are No. 63 in sacks allowed, having surrendered 25. In Ohio State’s last game, against Michigan, the Wolverines sacked Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett eight times. The matchup between OSU right tackle Isaiah Prince and Clemson defensive end Christian Wilkins will be an important one. Prince has struggled at times this year and is under scrutiny entering the game.

2. How does Clemson slow Curtis Samuel?

Ohio State’s top playmaker is dangerous in the running game and passing game, whether he’s lined up in the backfield, in the slot or out wide. It will take a team effort by the Tigers to slow Samuel, who is the only player in the nation with at least 700 rushing yards and 700 receiving yards.

3. Can Ohio State’s secondary cover Clemson’s wide receivers?

The Tigers have weapons all over the field, from Mike Williams to Artavis Scott to Hunter Renfrow to Deon Cain to Ray-Ray McCloud. Ohio State’s secondary will be, by far, the best the Tigers have seen this year, and it will be interesting to see if Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker and company can cover the best group of receivers they will have faced.

4. Can Clemson make J.T. Barrett a passer?

There is no doubt the Ohio State offense is at its best when Barrett is having success in the running game. The junior has rushed for 847 yards and nine touchdowns this season and has topped the 100-yard mark each of the past two games. Clemson’s front seven will have to play well and force the Buckeyes to win the game through the air for the Tigers to win.

5. Will Deshaun Watson have another special game?

Clemson’s star quarterback has been at his best throughout his career when the lights are the brightest. The last time he played in Phoenix, he passed for more than 400 yards as the Tigers put up 40 points on Alabama’s stellar defense. If Watson can put together another special game, the Tigers will be tough to beat.

Fiesta Bowl

Who: Clemson (12-1) vs. Ohio State (11-1)

When: 7 p.m. Saturday


Line: OSU by 3

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