NEW ORLEAN—— No. 3 Ohio State proved their ranking was correct by defeating No. 2 Clemson 49-28.
Despite only playing six games during this pandemic-altered season, a lot of people felt that wasn’t enough games to receive such a generous ranking including Clemson coach Dabo Swinney who placed the Buckeyes No. 11 on his ballot in the final regular-season coaches’ poll.
“I don’t regret any of that, and polls have nothing to do with motivation,” Swinney said. “Both teams were highly motivated to play.”
After the game, Ohio State coach Ryan Day said his team was highly motivated to play.
“I don’t know if we’re more excited about a chance to play for a national championship,” Day said, “or avenging that loss.”
Swinney downplayed any notion that Ohio State had added motivation to win.
“They’re a great team,” Swinney said. “[The ranking] had nothing to do with Ohio State. I said they were good enough to beat us, good enough to win the whole dang thing. But I didn’t think anybody that didn’t play at least nine games, in my poll, that I wasn’t going to put them in the top 10. So I wasn’t going to change that just because there was a chance we could play them. So I don’t have any regret about that. Only thing I regret is obviously not doing a good enough job getting my team ready. But I don’t regret anything about that at all.”
In a rematch with Swinney’s Tigers in the Sugar Bowl, Justin Fields and the Buckeyes had Clemson’s number.
Fields threw six touchdown passes to outshine Trevor Lawrence.
”Everybody doubting us just pushed us a little more,” Fields said.
Fields played well despite taking a vicious shot to the side that forced him to miss a play, going 22 of 28 for 385 yards six touchdowns, and one interception. He set a Sugar Bowl record for TD passes.
Lawrence was 33 of 48 for 400 yards and three total touchdowns in possibly the junior’s final college game.
”We were confident and prepared,” he said. ”This was just one of those nights.”
No. 3 Ohio State will now take on No. 1 Alabama on Jan 11, in the championship game.