After having a couple days to digest the tough loss my Buckeyes had on Saturday night, I decided to review the game and see what went wrong. After a dominant first 25 minutes, the Buckeyes fell apart and lost in the semifinals of the College Football Playoffs. Today I will be discussing what went wrong.
Before we get into analyzing the game, I just want to reminiscence on the great season Ohio State had. After Urban Meyer left, many analysts doubted the Buckeyes under new head coach Ryan Day, but he defied all odds. In his first year as head coach, Day led the team to a 13-1 record and a berth in the College Football Playoffs. Even with the plethora of talent declaring for the draft, the future is bright for the Buckeyes under Ryan Day.
- We saw a targeting call on Buckeyes corner Shaun Wade which completely changed the tide of the game. While I do believe that Trevor Lawrence ducked into Wade’s path, if Wade could’ve been safer with his tackle, as in not led with his helmet, the Buckeyes could’ve gotten off the field and held Clemson to zero points. After the targeting call, the Tigers scored 29 points to the Buckeyes 7 points, while also out-gaining them in yardage 420 to 228.
- The roughing the kicker call. With Clemson pinned deep in their territory and the defense forcing a 4th down, Ryan Day decided to play aggressive and try and block the kick. The Buckeyes would’ve had great field position if they played it safe, but they got greedy and came up short. Travis Etienne later scored a 53 yard touchdown on this drive, giving the Tigers the lead 21-16.
- Two touchdowns dropped by JK Dobbins. While Dobbins played a phenomenal game, his two touchdown drops coming back to haunt the Buckeyes later in the game. He dropped one earlier when he did not maintain control of the ball going into the end zone, and he also dropped a screen pass where he had blockers ahead and could’ve walked in for a touchdown. This would’ve been an 8 point swing and might have resulted in the Buckeyes leading 24-0 in the first half.
- The controversial touchdown called back. Trevor Lawrence threw Justyn Ross the ball and Ross clearly took more than 3 steps and made a football move, but then suddenly, All-American corner Jeff Okudah knocked the ball out and Jordan Fuller, the safety, scooped the ball up and scored. Just like that the Buckeyes had the lead again and all the momentum. However, upon review the refs ended up overturning this call. This gave the ball back to the Buckeyes offense that was struggling, and they ended up throwing an interception to linebacker Isaiah Simmons on the next possession.
- Justin Fields was not himself. Injuries are never an excuse to lose a game, but he was not the same in this one. His knee was not 100 percent and the brace did not help. Also, after throwing only 1 interception the whole season, he came in and threw 2 interceptions in 1 game. Wow! He was flustered this game and was not himself.
- Finally, on the most crucial play of the game, the miscommunication between Chris Olave and Fields. Olave’s route was a post and that’s what Fields was throwing, but instead, Olave thought Fields was scrambling and changed his route to a corner, causing Fields to throw right to a Clemson player, effectively ending the game.
While this was a tough loss for the Buckeyes, I fully expect them to regroup, come back better, and be right back in the playoffs next season.
Congrats to Clemson on winning a hard fought game and I cannot wait for the National Championship between LSU and Clemson.