This week Ohio State and Clemson will face off in a rematch of their College Football Playoff semifinal game from last season.
Tensions are high heading into the outing, with Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney not showing the Buckeyes much respect in the lead-up.
After winning last year’s match-up, Clemson enters this season’s rematch as the favorite. According to ESPN college football insider Kirk Herbstreit, that is probably the correct way to view this showdown.
“Ohio State comes into this game without Chase Young, without Damon Arnette, without Jeffrey Okudah, without Malik Harrison,” Herbstreit said.
“It’s a very, very different team. And to be candid, they’ve played six games if you watched them play almost every game that they’ve played it’s kinda left you scratching your head with their defense.
“The Ohio State defense, that’s the mystery coming into this game. Their secondary is incredibly vulnerable and especially in man-to-man coverage. And teams have not been avoiding Shaun Wade, they’ve been trying to find him. … And I don’t think it will be any different with Clemson.”
Herbstreit’s comment about Ohio State’s level of competition echoes Swinney’s criticism.
Fans took a close look at this OJ Simpson photo and lost their minds. https://t.co/8BUpha9b8g
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 29, 2020
Swinney ranked the Buckeyes at No. 11 in his final Coaches Poll, specifically highlighting the lack of games played for his reasoning.
“First of all, my vote don’t mean anything,” he said.
“But it means something to me, you know? It’s my poll. I do it. It creates a stir because we just so happen to be playing Ohio State. It has nothing to do with Ohio State — absolutely zero. You can change the name to Michigan or Georgia or Florida or Tennessee or Nebraska. Anytime you have a top-10 (ranking), it should be that special.
“This year it’s like really, really, really special and I wanted it to be that way. And so, I wanted to recognize the teams that played nine games or more. And so, if you didn’t play nine games, I just didn’t consider you from the top 10. That’s why they were 11.”
Will the Buckeyes be able to make Swinney eat his words? We’ll find out once and for all when Ohio State and Clemson kick off at 5:00 p.m. PT on January 1.