Many things will be on the line when Ohio State plays Clemson in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31 as one of the 2016 College Football Playoff semifinal games.
Obviously, a berth in the CFP national title game is at stake. For the Buckeyes, it gives them an opportunity to prove that they are one of the best four teams in the country despite not owning a conference championship crown.
One thing that may not be on the team’s mind but rather on the fans’ is payback.
Ohio State lost to Clemson, 40-35, in the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl. The Buckeyes led, 29-20, with less than six minutes remaining in the third quarter but squandered their lead by committing four turnovers in the final 20 minutes of the contest.
“It’s going to sting for a while, probably a long while because we didn’t finish,” OSU head coach Urban Meyer said after the loss. “It was right there.”
Well, Meyer and his team have been granted a second chance to finish it against the Tigers.
A lot has changed in the three seasons since that fateful night in Miami, though.
For instance, Ohio State’s quarterback was Braxton Miller while Clemson’s was Tajh Boyd.
Miller threw for 234 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions while completing 16 of 24 passes. He had two rushing scores as well.
Boyd, meanwhile, threw for 378 yards, five touchdowns and two picks on 31-of-40 passing. He ran for another 127 yards and found the end zone once while using his legs.
This time around it will J.T. Barrett of Ohio State vs. Deshaun Watson of Clemson.
The coaches of the two programs have not changed, however. Meyer is still the man in charge in Columbus, while Dabo Swinney is still at the helm for the Tigers.
This will be the second playoff appearance for both men. Meyer’s first came in 2014 when OSU won the whole thing. Swinney has now made it for a second straight year after losing to Alabama, 45-40, in the national championship a season ago.
Meyer remembers that loss to Clemson three years ago, and knows what kind of challenge the ACC champions will bring in about four weeks.
“We know them, have a lot of respect for them,” Meyer said of the Tigers. “We lost that game. It was a great game, if I remember. We know exactly what we’re getting into.”