Sugar Bowl features Clemson-Ohio State CFP semifinal rematch

Clemson Tigers

FILE – In this Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, file photo, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) looks for a receiver during the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game against Notre Dame in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco, File)

No. 3 Ohio State will be going for its first victory over No. 2 Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Sugar Bowl.

The game is a semifinal rematch from last season, when Clemson defeated Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Clemson also has beaten Ohio State in three previous meetings that all occurred in bowl games since 1978.

Clemson is making its fifth straight playoff appearance and has won two national titles in that span.

Ohio State won its last national championship in the 2014 season when the CFP format debuted.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

A berth in the College Football Playoff national championship game in Miami on Jan. 11. Clemson is seeking its fifth appearance in the title game since the four-team CFP playoff debuted in the 2014 season. Ohio State is eyeing its first finals appearance since January 2015 when the Buckeyes won their last national title.

KEY MATCHUP

Ohio State QB Justin Fields, an adept scrambler who is averaging about 254 yards and better than two TDs passing per game, against a Clemson defense that ranks in the top 10 nationally in yards allowed per game (298.5), has had multiple sacks in every game and has three defensive touchdowns on fumble returns.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ohio State: Fields has completed 72.6% of his passes for 1,521 yards and 15 TDs against five INTs in six games. He also has 274 yards and five TDs rushing; RB Trey Sermon has averaged 112 yards rushing, and is coming off a school record-breaking 331 against Northwestern; WR Garrett Wilson has 38 catches for 621 yards and five TDs; WR Chris Olave has 36 catches for 528 yards and five TDs; All-America CB Shaun Wade has two INTs.

Clemson: QB Trevor Lawrence is widely expected to be selected first overall in the 2021 NFL draft after passing for 2,753 yards and 22 TDs against just four INTs in nine games — all victories. Lawrence has completed 69.2% of his passes and also has rushed for 211 yards and seven TDs; RB Travis Etienne leads Clemson in rushing with 882 yards and 13 TDs to go with 44 catches for 524 yards and two TDs; WR Amari Rodgers has 69 catches for 966 yards and seven TDs. LB Baylon Spector has 9 ½ tackles for loss and 3 ½ sacks.

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