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The Five Biggest Questions Heading Into Ohio State’s Semifinal Matchup With Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers


#We have all kinds of questions.

#We’ve reached the middle of the week and bowl season is finally heating up. #Of course, the one that really matters will go down #Friday night when the #Buckeyes get their chance for redemption against #Dabo #Swinney and the #Clemson #Tigers. #No one is giving #Ohio #State much of a chance, and that seems to be adding to the players’ motivation.

#We all know about the unfortunate conclusion of last year’s contest. #This time around, we’ve got some of those same familiar faces as well as a new cast of characters. There are numerous storylines leading up to the semifinal matchup. #Today, we’re looking at the most pressing questions that should help determine who moves on to play for the title.


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#Does #Justin #Fields #Get #Back to #His #Usual #Ways?

#Justin #Fields has been incredible through about 90 percent of his #Buckeye career. #In 20 games, the junior has put up some eye-popping numbers and solidified himself as a high draft pick. #However, in #Ohio #State’s biggest games of 2020, he’s made some uncharacteristic mistakes and turned the ball over five times.

#Chris #Olave’s return is undoubtedly a big deal for the #Buckeye passing game, and the #Olave/Garrett #Wilson pairing will be far and away the most impressive wideout duo the #Tigers have faced thus far. #Fields has completed just shy of 73 percent of his passes this season. #But in the games against the #Hoosiers and #Wildcats, that number is significantly lower; all the way down to 53 percent. A repeat performance simply won’t cut it #Friday night in #New #Orleans.

#Can #Ohio #State #Capitalize on #Nolan #Turner’s #Absence?

#Fifth-year senior #Nolan #Turner is the veteran presence in the secondary and one of the #Tigers’ defensive leaders. #He’s played more snaps than any other defender in 2020, leads the team in interceptions, and ranks second in tackles. #Needless to say, his absence in the first half should be something #Ryan #Day is looking to take advantage of.

The #Buckeyes got off to a hot start against #Clemson a season ago, but unfortunately the success on offense didn’t carry over once they reached the red zone. #If I were in #Day’s shoes, I’d do everything in my power to target the middle of the field to exploit a defense that’s missing one of its leaders. #Turner’s third-quarter return will surely provide a big boost to what #Brent #Venables has planned in #New #Orleans. #Much like last time, field goals aren’t going to cut it.

#Which #Trey #Sermon #Will be on #Display?

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#Heading into the #Big #Ten title game, #Trey #Sermon had rushed for 344 yards and one touchdown while averaging a little over six yards per carry through five games. #His record-setting performance against #Northwestern boosted his stat line up to 675 yards, three scores, and eight per attempt. #No one is expecting a repeat performance, but another solid showing would go a long way in taking some of the pressure off of #Justin #Fields.

I think we have a pretty good idea of exactly who #Master #Teague is as a running back. The jury still seems to be out on #Sermon, however, as most of his season had just been “okay” prior to the explosion in #Indy. The offensive line was certainly creating holes against the #Wildcats, but #Sermon was breaking tackles and finishing runs in a way that we hadn’t seen before. #We’ll see what version shows up #Friday night against the nation’s ninth-ranked rush defense.

#Trevor #Lawrence did all kinds of damage with his legs a season ago. #Via #Bob #Donnan-USA TODAY #Sports

#Can the #Defense #Limit #Trevor #Lawrence’s #Rushing #Ability?

#When the two teams last met, #Trevor #Lawrence rushed for 107 yards and his 67-yard touchdown dash gave the #Tigers some serious momentum heading into the half. #Now, he’s coming off a 14-carry, 90-yard performance against the #Fighting #Irish in the ACC title game. #Outside of the #Nebraska game, the #Buckeyes haven’t dealt with too much mobility under center. The future #Jacksonville #Jaguar obviously presents an entirely different challenge.

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#Ohio #State’s rush defense has been stout (#No. 7 nationally), but #Clemson’s run-pass-option offense can be tricky for any team to defend. #Travis #Etienne did most of his damage in the passing game last year, but the speedster also has to be accounted for in the RPO game. #Tommy #Togiai and #Haskell #Garrett will need to continue their superb play and the defense as a whole will need to stick to their gaps and assignments to prevent – or at least limit – some of the big plays we saw in the #Fiesta #Bowl.

#How #Will #Kerry #Coombs #Handle #Amari #Rodgers?

#Last year’s #Tigers had two superb outside receivers in #Justyn #Ross and #Tee #Higgins. #This time around, slot man #Amari #Rodgers is the passing game’s top threat. The game’s single biggest advantage is likely going to be #Clemson’s passing offense against the #Buckeye secondary, and I’m intrigued to see what kind of plan #Kerry #Coombs cooks up for this one.

I’ve seen some suggest moving #Shaun #Wade back to the slot to man up with #Rodgers. #If #Cam #Brown were available, then maybe that would be an option. #But as things stand with a depleted unit, I’m just not sure how feasible that would be at this point in the season.

#Assuming #Wade stays on the outside, we could be looking at #Josh #Proctor and #Marcus #Williamson lining up against #Clemson’s best wideout. #That could obviously present some problems for the secondary. #Could we see a bit more zone from the #Buckeye defense? #That’s another possibility and may be the right move considering the circumstances.

#Ohio #State ranks #No. 104 nationally against the pass, and plenty of eyes will be on #Coombs in what’s sure to be his biggest challenge since taking over as defensive coordinator.


#Clemson remains a 7.5-point favorite for the rematch in The #Big #Easy. #Dabo has been up to his usual weird antics, and I don’t think I’ve heard anyone in the national media picking the #Buckeyes to win. #It feels a lot like things did back in late 2014 prior to the matchup with the #Crimson #Tide.

The #Buckeyes and #Tigers are set to kick things off shortly after 8 p.m on #New #Year’s #Day. #What are your biggest questions heading into this season’s semifinal?



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##Biggest ##Questions ##Heading ##Ohio ##States ##Semifinal ##Matchup ##Dabo ##Swinney ##Clemson ##Tigers

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