What a game we have for the second College Football Playoff semifinal of the day as the Clemson Tigers and Ohio State Buckeyes battle it out in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl at 8 pm ET tonight. These two teams are evenly matched and the case for victory can be made for either squad. The contest also has 14 players graded as first or second-day prospects on my board for the 2020 NFL Draft.
What scouts are watching
In a nutshell – don’t blink or you may miss something.
Like the first semi-final game between LSU and Oklahoma, the matchup between quarterback and receivers versus a talented secondary is atop everyone’s list. In this case, it’s Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and his receivers against Ohio State’s dynamic trio of cornerbacks.
Clemson has three receivers that grade as top 70 draft choices, two (Tee Higgins & Amari Rodgers) whom I’m told are leaning towards entering the 2020 NFL Draft. All three Buckeye corners also grade as top 70 picks and I’m told the two underclassmen (Jeffrey Okudah & Shaun Wade) will make themselves eligible for the draft.
While everyone will focus on Chase Young, the play of Ohio State’s entire defensive line against the Clemson offensive line (which possesses three draftable players) is something else to keep an eye on.
Finally, can the Buckeye linebackers contain the game-breaking speed of Clemson running back Travis Etienne?
As I said, don’t blink or you may miss something.
Clemson has the coaching edge, but I think the difference in this contest will be the underrated and unheralded Ohio State offensive line. I don’t see Clemson’s defensive line getting much pressure on quarterback Justin Fields, forcing the Tigers to rely on blitzes that will lead to big plays through the air and on the ground orchestrated by the Buckeye signal-caller.
In the end, I think Ohio State wins by seven and meets LSU in the National Championship game in ten days.
Clemson vs Ohio State
|4.55||1st||Chase Young||Ohio State||DE||2||3Jr|
|4.24||1st||Jeffrey Okudah||Ohio State||CB||1||3Jr|
|4.00||1-2||J.K. Dobbins||Ohio State||RB||2||3Jr|
|3.93||2nd||Damon Arnette||Ohio State||CB||3||5Sr|
|3.83||2nd||Malik Harrison||Ohio State||OLB||39||4Sr|
|3.80||2nd||Wyatt Davis||Ohio State||G||52||3So|
|3.75||3rd||Shaun Wade||Ohio State||CB||24||3So|
|3.60||3rd||Pete Werner||Ohio State||OLB||20||3Jr|
|3.58||4th||Tuf Borland||Ohio State||ILB||32||4Jr|
|3.57||4th||Thayer Munford||Ohio State||T||75||3Jr|
|3.54||4th||K.J. Hill||Ohio State||WR||14||4Sr|
|3.45||4th||Baron Browning||Ohio State||ILB||5||3Jr|
|3.39||6th||Austin Mack||Ohio State||WR||11||4Sr|
|3.36||6th||Jordan Fuller||Ohio State||S||4||4Sr|
|3.35||6th||Braden Bowen||Ohio State||T||76||5Sr|
|3.35||6th||Jonah Jackson||Ohio State||G||73||5Sr|
|3.32||6th||Luke Farrell||Ohio State||TE||89||4Jr|
|3.31||6-7||Davon Hamilton||Ohio State||DT||53||5Sr|
|3.21||FA||Rashod Berry||Ohio State||TE||13||5Sr|
|3.20||FA||Jonathon Cooper||Ohio State||DE||18||5Sr|
|3.19||FA||Robert Landers||Ohio State||DT||67||5Sr|
|3.10||FA||Binjimen Victor||Ohio State||WR||9||4Sr|
|3.00||FA||Jashon Cornell||Ohio State||DE||9||5Sr|
|3.00||FA||Brendon White||Ohio State||S||25||3Jr|
Tony Pauline is Pro Football Network’s NFL Draft Analyst and Insider. Follow him on Twitter @TonyPauline. Follow PFN on Twitter @PFN365. And be sure to join him today for the PFN college football live blog as Tony and the PFN draft team provide insight into all of the CFP semifinal action during the Peach and Fiesta Bowls.