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No. 2 Ohio State faces No. 3 Clemson in CFP at Fiesta Bowl

December 27, 2019 GMT
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FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2019, file photo, Ohio State defensive end Chase Young rushes against Northwestern during the second half of an NCAA college football game, in Evanston, Ill. Young got back on the field, and immediately back into the Heisman Trophy race. In his return from a two-game NCAA suspension, he had three sacks among nine tackles in the Buckeyes’ win over Penn State last Saturday. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
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FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2019, file photo, Ohio State defensive end Chase Young rushes against Northwestern during the second half of an NCAA college football game, in Evanston, Ill. Young got back on the field, and immediately back into the Heisman Trophy race. In his return from a two-game NCAA suspension, he had three sacks among nine tackles in the Buckeyes’ win over Penn State last Saturday. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Ohio State (13-0) vs. No. 3 Clemson, (13-0) in Glendale, Arizona, Saturday at 8 p.m. EST (ESPN).

Line: Clemson by 1 1/2.

Series record: Clemson leads 3-0.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

A spot in the College Football Playoff national championship game. The Buckeyes and Tigers have been in this spot before. They met in the 2016 semifinals at the Fiesta Bowl and Clemson won 31-0. Much has changed since then, including two national championships for the Tigers and a new coach for the Ohio State. For the Buckeyes, it’s also a chance to show they occupy that same elite status as programs like Clemson and Alabama.

KEY MATCHUP

Ohio State DE Chase Young vs. Clemson LT Jackson Carman. Young is an All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist. He had 16 1/2 sacks in 11 games and is likely to be the first non-quarterback selected in the NFL draft. Carman, a sophomore, is a former five-star recruit from Ohio. He will probably need help to contain Young. Plus, the Buckeyes like to move around their top pass rusher to mess with opponents’ protection schemes.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ohio State: QB Justin Fields. There is so much talent on both side it’s hard to narrow it down, but the quarterbacks will command the spotlight because they are huge stars. Fields threw 40 touchdowns passes and just one interception. He also ran for 10 scores. Fields has been dealing with a sore left knee. How that impacts his excellent speed could be pivotal.

Iowa: QB Trevor Lawrence last year became the first freshman quarterback to lead a team to a national championship since 1985. After a little bit of a slow start this season, he was playing at an elite level by the end of the year. He completed 68% of his passes, with 34 TD throws.

FACTS & FIGURES

Fields and Lawrence grew up about 20 miles from each other in the northwest suburbs of Atlanta. Both are sophomores, but this will be the first game they have ever played against each other. ... Clemson has won 28 straight games, the longest winning streak in the nation. Ohio State has won 19 straight games, second best ... Each team has a star running back. Clemson’s Travis Etienne averages 8.24 yards per carry and has scored 19 touchdowns. Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins averages 6.46 yards per carry and has scored 22 touchdowns ... Ohio State’s Ryan Day is in his first season as the Buckeyes’ head coach after taking over when Urban Meyer stepped down. Day is trying to become the first first-year coach to win a national title since Larry Coker did it at Miami in 2001. ... Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has the Tigers in the playoff for the fifth straight season. They have reached the championship game three times.

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