GLENDALE, Ariz. — Before their College Football Playoff semifinal, the Ohio State Buckeyes got some love from Urban Meyer on Saturday.
Two hours before kickoff in the Fiesta Bowl against No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Ohio State arrived at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Ohio State’s head coach led the way off the buses — as he always does — and greeted each player with a hug at the Buckeyes’ locker room entrance.
You can watch the full video below. It includes the Buckeyes’ arrival and trip to the locker room.
Ohio State keys to the Fiesta Bowl
1. The offensive line
More than anything else, this game will be decided by the Ohio State offensive line. 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 8 sacks against Michigan, and it nearly cost them the game.
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 believed it could fix its offensive line over the course of bowl prep. The Buckeyes’ success depends on it.
2. Putting on the pressure
Ohio State’s defensive line has done a great job of generating pressure this season. However, their hounding of quarterbacks hasn’t always led to sacks. The Buckeyes average just 2.17 sacks per game, which ranks 58th nationally.
Clemson QB Deshaun Watson finished as the Heisman Trophy runner-up, and with good reason. He has a knack for making plays, especially with extended time. Ohio State will need to make sure it not only forces early throws but also generates sacks and tackles for loss that become drive-killing mistakes for offenses.
3. Forcing turnovers
If there’s one criticism of Watson that can be made, it’s his interception total. He has thrown 15 interceptions in 13 games this season. (Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett, by comparison, has just 5 picks in 12 games.) Ohio State’s defense thrives on turnovers, and the Buckeyes will have the opportunity to capitalize on Saturday. If the Buckeyes can take away some possessions — or even score on defense — they have to like their odds.