GLENDALE, Ariz. — Second-ranked Clemson is set to square off with No. 3 Ohio State in Saturday’s College Football Playoff Fiesta Bowl semifinal.
Land of 10 will have you covered with the latest action from University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Follow along for live scores, stats and updates.
Ohio State-Clemson live blog, updates
Final: Clemson 31, Ohio State 0
8:51: 31-0 Clemson on a Wayne Gallman run.
9:25: The Buckeyes just failed to take advantage of a 64-yard Curtis Samuel run, with J.T. Barrett throwing a prayer interception, which the Tigers returned to the Buckeyes’ seven-yard line.
0:19: Ohio State found some momentum with some pass interference penalties, but a J.T. Barrett pass just went through Curtis Samuel’s hands for an interception. This game is as good as over.
2:05: Seven-yard Deshaun Watson touchdown run. 24-0 Tigers. Buckeyes showing no signs of life.
6:00: Buckeyes take over at their own 17-yard line. Still looking for their first score of the game. Defense is doing its part so far.
13:13: Mike Weber fumbles and Clemson recovers on Ohio State’s 41 yard line. If it isn’t already, a blowout appears to be in progress.
Halftime: Clemson 17, Ohio State 0. Buckeyes not finding much of anything working on offense and Deshaun Watson making big plays for the Tigers.
2:21: Deshaun Watson finds C.J. Fuller for a 30-yard touchdown pass. 17-0 Tigers. This could get ugly.
6:05: Buckeyes once again forced to punt as Clemson takes over at its own 17-yard line. Tigers defensive line doing a great job of being active and batting down J.T. Barrett’s passes.
8:23: Malik Hooker picks off Deshaun Watson with an uber-athletic interception in the end zone. Now the Buckeyes need to capitalize.
14:10: Cardale Jones has weighed in on the Buckeyes’ play-calling
Anyone have the number to that sideline phone??
— Cardale Jones (@Cardale7_) January 1, 2017
14:54: Bin Victor made a nice grab for 21 yards, but the Buckeyes failed to get much of anything going after that. Another punt gives Deshaun Watson the ball at his own 11-yard line.
2:16: Clemson goes up 10-0 on a Deshaun Watson 1-yard touchdown run. Buckeyes need an answer and they need it quickly.
5:59: Buckeyes once again fail to make good on good field position as Durbin misses another 47-yarder. Mike Weber yet to receive a carry yet for Ohio State.
9:16: Clemson gets on the board first as a Mike Williams 37-yard reception sets up a 45-yard Tigers field goal. Clemson 3, Ohio State 0.
11:52: Buckeyes fail to convert after a Tyler Durbin 47-yard field goal attempt goes wide right. Ohio State failing to get much of anything going offensively.
12:50: Demetrius Knox in at left guard in place of Jordan, who had to be helped off the field.
13:11: HUGE play for the Buckeyes as Gareon Conley picks off Deshaun Watson on Clemson’s second offensive play of the game. Ohio State takes over in Clemson territory at its 33-yard line. Offensive guard Michael Jordan down for the Buckeyes.
13:44: Buckeyes are clearly going to emphasize Curtis Samuel in this game. He gets the Buckeyes first two touches but Mike Weber drops a third-down pass. Clemson takes over at its own 17.
5:08 PM: Clemson wins the toss and defers. Buckeyes will get the ball to start the game. And here, we go.
5 PM: It’s about a 70-30 Ohio State advantage in terms of fans — if not more. There was an audible “boo” for the Tigers as they took the field.
4:35 PM: If Ohio State beats Clemson tonight, it nows know it will face Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
4:01 PM: It’s a very pro-Buckeyes crowd here. I mean, just look at this guy:
The rivalry lives pic.twitter.com/luVbq52JJe
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) December 31, 2016
Fiesta Bowl keys to the game
The following are the keys to today’s College Football Playoff Fiesta Bowl, per Land of 10’s Ryan Ginn:
1. Ohio State’s offensive line vs. Clemson’s pass rush
What goes down in the trenches will play a huge role in this game. Led by All-Americans Pat Elflein (center) and Billy Price (right guard), Ohio State is one of the best run-blocking teams in the country. However, the same can’t be said for the line’s pass blocking. The Buckeyes allowed eight sacks against Michigan, and it nearly cost them the game. Right tackle Isaiah Prince has been the main culprit this season when things go wrong, but there have been breakdowns across the line.
Against Clemson, the Buckeyes will face a huge test. The Tigers rank third nationally in sacks per game (3.54). Their defensive line is an absolute force. Ohio State believes it can fix its offensive line over the course of bowl prep. The Buckeyes’ success depends on it.
2. The turnover battle
If there’s one criticism of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson that can be made, it’s his interception total. He threw 15 interceptions in 13 games this season. (Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, by comparison, threw five picks in 12 games.) Ohio State’s defense thrives on turnovers, and the Buckeyes will have the opportunity to capitalize.
Watson makes some elite throws, but he also tries to force passes into some windows that he shouldn’t. If the Buckeyes can take away some possessions — or even score on defense — they have to like their odds.
3. Home run plays
In a game between two great teams, big plays matter. The difference could come down to which team is able to break a tackle or gain the separation that leads to a long score. Whichever offense connects on huge gains or long touchdowns against a great defense will put itself in position to win.