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Ohio State advanced to the college football national championship game with a rout of Clemson in the Sugar Bowl and the College Football Playoff semifinal on Friday night, 49-28. Ohio State will play Alabama.
Buckeyes quaterback Justin Fields had an epic performance. He finished with six touchdown passes on 22-for-28 passing for 385 yards.
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Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields warms up before the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game against Clemson Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in New Orleans. (Associated Press)
Fields threw two touchdown passes each to Chris Olave and Jeremy Ruckert. He had one each to Jameson Williams and Luke Farrell. Olave led Ohio State receivers with six catches for 132 receiving yards.
The quarterback also survived an apparent back injury when he was tackled by Clemson linebacker James Skalski. The defender led with his helmet when he tackled Fields and was penalized for targeting and subsequently ejected.
Ohio State got another great performance from Trey Sermon. The running back had 193 rushing yards and a touchdown in the win.
It was very likely Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s final game with the Tigers. He finished the game with 400 passing yards and two touchdown passes, ending his collegiate career with two losses as a starter – one to Fields and Ohio State and the other to Joe Burrow and LSU.
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Cornell Powell had eight catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns for Clemson.
Clemson’s defense allowed 35 points in the first half and the offense failed to capitalize on Ohio State’s mistakes. Clemson was 5-for-12 on third down and 0-for-2 on fourth down. The team allowed 639 yards of total offense in the loss.
The Buckeyes played only six games in the regular season after the Big Ten Conference got its season started late over fears of the coronavirus. The Buckeyes had a game canceled due to their own coronavirus outbreak during the regular season and the conference had to bend the rules to allow the team to participate in the Big Ten title game against Northwestern.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is tackled by Ohio State defensive end Tyreke Smith during the second half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in New Orleans. (Associated Press)
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney had been adamant about teams that had played only six games being barred from the College Football Playoff. Swinney added to the bulletin board material when he ranked Ohio State No. 11 in his final coaches’ poll.
Clemson beat Ohio State last season in the College Football Playoff, only to lose to LSU in the national title game.
It’s the second time Ohio State will be playing in the national championship game since the College Football Playoff era began. The last time the team was in the title game was after the 2014 season. The Buckeyes won the game against Oregon.
It will be the first national championship appearance for Buckeyes coach Ryan Day, who took over the helm for Urban Meyer during the 2018 season. Meyer had retired 11 games into the season.
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Ohio State and Alabama will play for the title on Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.