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No. 3 Ohio State enters the College Football Playoff with a 6-0 record.  

The Buckeyes won their fourth consecutive Big Ten championship, and coach Ryan Day is making his second Playoff appearance as a head coach. The opponent is a familiar one, too. No. 2 Clemson knocked out the Buckeyes in the 2016 and 2019 CFP semifinals. 

MORE: College Football Playoff isn’t fair, but don’t blame four teams who made it

Clemson is a 7.5-point favorite against Ohio State in the semifinal at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. The game is a rematch of last year’s 29-23 thriller at the Fiesta Bowl, and another showcase for quarterbacks Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence.  

Here is a closer look at the Buckeyes’ College Football Playoff history and the reasons why they will (or won’t) win a national championship in 2020:    

Ohio State’s College Football Playoff history  

The Buckeyes are making their fourth College Football Playoff appearance. Ohio State won the first College Football Playoff in 2014 under third-year coach Urban Meyer as the No. 4 seed. The Buckeyes have lost twice in the semifinals to Clemson, both times as the No. 3 seed. Ohio State is again a No. 3 seed in 2020.  

Ohio State playoff matchup  

Ohio State is 0-4 all time against Clemson. Legendary coach Woody Hayes was fired after punching Tigers linebacker Charlie Bauman during the Buckeyes’ 1978 Gator Bowl loss. The Buckeyes have lost two playoff semifinals to the Tigers, and they also lost 40-35 in the 2014 Orange Bowl.  

YEAR RANK RESULTS
2014 4 Beat No. 1 Alabama 42-34, beat No. 2 Oregon 42-20
2016 3 Lost to No. 2 Clemson 31-0
2019 3 Lost to No. 2 Clemson 29-23
2020 3 vs. No. 2 Clemson

Why the Buckeyes will win national title  

The revenge factor pays off against Clemson. The Buckeyes’ offense averages 42.5 points per game and Justin Fields totaled 20 touchdowns in six games. Running back Trey Sermon emerged with 331 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the Big Ten championship game, and the receiving tandem of Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave offers even more big-play potential. Ohio State led Clemson 16-0 in last year’s semifinal before letting the advantage slip away; that was the biggest talking point in Columbus before the COVID-19 pandemic, and Day should learn from the experience. Ohio State also can play the underdog card the way it did in 2014. From there, another matchup against Alabama would be as hyped as the Sugar Bowl semifinal in 2014. Ohio State has enough talent to matchup up with anybody in the four-team field.  

Why the Buckeyes won’t win national title  

COVID-19 has had a significant effect on the season. The Buckeyes missed three games and have been short-handed in their last two games. They must get healthy in a short amount of time. The jump in competition will be significant. Fields threw five interceptions combined in games against Indiana and Northwestern. Those turnovers won’t be as easily forgiven against Clemson. The pass defense allowed 260.8 yards per game this season. If the Buckeyes can’t get a pass rush against the Tigers, then their playoff history will repeat. The number of games they’ve played could go either way. They might be fresh, but are they prepared for a playoff test?  

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December 21, 2020
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