Dec. 4, 2016
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Third-ranked Ohio State has earned a place in the semifinals of the College Football Playoff for the second time in the playoffs three-year existence and will play the No. 2 Clemson Tigers in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl Dec. 31 at Glendale, Ariz. Game time is set for 7 p.m. (EST; 5 p.m. MST) at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Ohio State is the first non-conference champion to be selected by the CFP committee for the playoffs. The committee had chosen eight conference champions in its first two playoffs, including a resurgent Ohio State team in 2014 that defeated Wisconsin, 59-0, in the Big Ten title game for its 11th consecutive win that vaulted it from No. 5 in the CFP poll to No. 4 and a semifinal matchup with No. 1 Alabama.
A 3-1 record vs. teams in the current CFP rankings was the key factor to include Ohio State in the playoffs. The Buckeyes defeated No. 7 Oklahoma by 21 points on the road in September; it defeated No. 8 Wisconsin, champion of the Big Ten west division, on the road in overtime in October; and they defeated their rivals, No. 6 Michigan, in double overtime to cap its 11-1 season. Ohio State also defeated Nebraska, 62-3, when the Cornhuskers were ranked No. 10 by the CFP committee.
The Buckeyes’ only loss came at No. 5 Penn State, 24-21, in a second consecutive nationally-televised night game on the road after playing at Wisconsin the previous week. Penn State defeated Wisconsin, 38-31, Saturday night to win the Big Ten championship.
The Buckeyes have won five consecutive games and boast the nation’s No. 4 total defense (282.3 yards per game allowed), including the No. 1 pass efficiency defense and the No. 3 scoring defense (14.2). Ohio State is also 21st nationally in total offense behind a Top 10 ground game — ninth at 258.3 yards per game — and the fifth highest possession time: 33:55.
Clemson is 12-1, champion of the Atlantic Coast Conference and in the College Football Playoff for a second consecutive year. The Tigers, led by quarterback Deshaun Watson, rank 13th nationally in total offense behind a terrific passing game that nets 332.6 yards per outing (7th nationally). The Tigers are ninth in total defense, allowing just 313.9 yards per game.
Teams Met in 2014 Orange Bowl
Drastically different looking Ohio State and Clemson teams met three years ago in the Discover Orange Bowl, a game the Tigers won 40-35 behind the running and passing of quarterback Taj Boyd and the receiving of Sammy Watkins. Braxton Miller led the Buckeyes with 269 total yards and four touchdowns (two rushing; two passing).
Ohio State and Clemson’s only other meeting came in the 1978 Gator Bowl. Clemson won that game as well, 17-15, in what would be legendary coach Woody Hayes’ final game as coach.
Buckeye Bowl Bullets …
Fans interested in purchasing tickets in the Ohio State sections through Ohio State University for the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl are encouraged to submit a request now at the following link on the Athletic Department website: http://go.osu.edu/PublicCFPTickets.
Ticket prices start at $120 including service charges. Ohio State receives approximately 13,000 tickets for the game and, should general public tickets be available after priority requests from season ticket holders, faculty, staff and students are fulfilled, a public sale will commence beginning with those individuals on the waiting list.
Priority ordering for donor groups, season ticket holders, and Varsity O Football members is ongoing, and will conclude Friday, December 9 at 5:00 p.m. Detailed instructions for submitting priority ticket requests were emailed to these groups on November 14. Information regarding the Faculty/Staff and Student ticket lotteries, which will begin on December 6, was emailed to eligible ticket holders this afternoon.