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Ohio State Buckeyes Get Chance To Avenge Themselves Against Clemson Tigers

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields plays against Wisconsin during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio.
Jay LaPrete
/
AP
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields plays against Wisconsin during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio.

After weeks of Buckeye football fans talking about revenge, it's finally game day on Saturday. The second-ranked Buckeyes take on the third-seeded Clemson Tigers on Saturday night in Glendale, Ariz. in the College Football Playoff semifinal game.

The Buckeyes will get their first chance to avenge a 31-0 loss to Clemson in the 2016 playoff, a game that marked the worst loss of former coach Urban Meyer’s career. Ohio State also lost to Clemson in the Orange Bowl in January 2014.

While the unbeaten Buckeyes are the higher seed in Saturday’s game, most betting operations list Clemson, the defending national champion, as a slight favorite.

Both teams are led by star quarterbacks. Ohio State’s Justin Fields entered the season as an unproven sophomore after transferring from the University of Georgia. He ended the regular season a Heisman Trophy finalist after throwing for 40 touchdowns and just one interception.

Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence took the nation by storm last year when the freshman led the Tigers to the national title. He followed it with a strong 2019 season that include 34 touchdown passes.

Fields and Lawrence went to high school about 20 miles from each other in the suburbs northwest of Atlanta. They have worked out since middle school with the same quarterback trainer and were the top two high school recruits in the nation in the 2018 class, but have never played in the same game.

Clemson's Jackson Carman will have the tough assignment of blocking Ohio State's Chase Young, the consensus best defensive player in the country this season. Carman is from Fairfield, Ohio, and was recruited by Ohio State but chose Clemson. Young is a dynamic pass rusher who's expected to be one of the top picks in the NFL draft in April.

When it comes to head coaches, it will be the first time Ohio State’s Ryan Day had to plan for a team with equal talent. Day remains undefeated as the Buckeye coach, but never faced a team with as many top-flight recruits as Clemson.

The Tigers’ head coach Dabo Swinney, at age 50, is considered one of the best in the sport. He’s guided Clemson to two national championships since taking the job in 2009.