There will not be a lack of star power going into the Fiesta Bowl between Ohio State and Clemson in the nightcap of the College Football Playoff semifinals. Here are some of the key players to watch in this matchup.
When Ohio State has the ball, all eyes will be on the knee of Justin Fields, especially early in the game. How healthy is that knee? He already admitted it is not 100% and not where he expected to be at this point of the season. Maybe he’s saying things to fool the Clemson defense, but it’s certainly a concern for Ohio State because Fields was not himself against Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.
JK Dobbins has had a monster season, and he’ll be another Buckeye star to watch on Saturday night. Dobbins ranks third in the nation with 1,829 rushing yards, and his 20 rushing touchdowns is sixth. He will undoubtedly play a huge role in this matchup and could be primed for an even more important factor for Ohio State depending on the health of Fields.
The most popular defensive player in college football and potentially the best overall player in the country goes to Chase Young. He has made an absolute mess out of defensive coordinators and terrified quarterbacks all season long, aside from a two-game suspension. Young is penciled in to be among the top NFL Draft picks and could even go No. 1 this spring.
It has to start with the most recognizable man in college football with quarterback Trevor Lawrence. He struggled with turnovers early in the season, but the Clemson offense picked it up and never looked back just absolutely putting a beat down opposing defenses with Lawrence leading the charge. He is completing nearly 70% of his passes and threw for 34 touchdowns with eight interceptions.
Clemson running back Travis Etienne is the next most impressive player on this Clemson offense. He would be getting so much more attention if not for being on the same offense as Trevor Lawrence. He rushed for an even 1,500 yards and scored 17 rushing touchdowns this season. He can break off a big gainer any time, and he’s going to be a handful for Ohio State.
Clemson will try to match Ohio State’s Chase Young by utilizing linebacker Isaiah Simmons. A physical freak at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Simmons will look to get after Fields and cause mayhem in the Ohio State backfield. He has played a significant role on the Tiger defense for three consecutive years and with his likely exit to the NFL Draft, he’ll be looking for another national title.