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

GradeRndFull NameSchoolPos#Yr
4.551stChase YoungOhio StateDE23Jr
4.241stJeffrey OkudahOhio StateCB13Jr
4.191stIsaiah SimmonsClemsonOLB114Jr
4.001-2J.K. DobbinsOhio StateRB23Jr
3.952ndTravis EtienneClemsonRB93Jr
3.932ndDamon ArnetteOhio StateCB35Sr
3.852ndTee HigginsClemsonWR53Jr
3.832ndMalik HarrisonOhio StateOLB394Sr
3.802ndWyatt DavisOhio StateG523So
3.783rdA.J. TerrellClemsonCB83Jr
3.753rdShaun WadeOhio StateCB243So
3.723rdAmari RodgersClemsonWR33Jr
3.623rdJohn SimpsonClemsonG744Sr
3.603rdPete WernerOhio StateOLB203Jr
3.584thTuf BorlandOhio StateILB324Jr
3.574thThayer MunfordOhio StateT753Jr
3.544thK.J. HillOhio StateWR144Sr
3.534thNyles PinckneyClemsonDT444Jr
3.454thBaron BrowningOhio StateILB53Jr
3.396thAustin MackOhio StateWR114Sr
3.366thJordan FullerOhio StateS44Sr
3.356thBraden BowenOhio StateT765Sr
3.356thJonah JacksonOhio StateG735Sr
3.346thTanner MuseClemsonS195Sr
3.326thLuke FarrellOhio StateTE894Jr
3.316-7K’Von WallaceClemsonS124Sr
3.316-7Davon HamiltonOhio StateDT535Sr
3.287thTremayne AnchrumClemsonG734Sr
3.257-FASean PollardClemsonC764Sr
3.22FADiondre OvertonClemsonWR144Sr
3.21FARashod BerryOhio StateTE135Sr
3.21FAGage CervenkaClemsonG595Sr
3.20FAJonathon CooperOhio StateDE185Sr
3.19FARobert LandersOhio StateDT675Sr
3.10FABinjimen VictorOhio StateWR94Sr
3.00FAJashon CornellOhio StateDE95Sr
3.00FABrendon WhiteOhio StateS253Jr


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.