The matchup grew contentious well before it became official. Weeks in advance, Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney began politicking against the Buckeyes and their limited schedule — the ongoing pandemic forced the cancellation of multiple games and forced the Big Ten to change its title-game rules to allow Ohio State to participate — out of fear the College Football Playoff selection committee would leave his team out for an undefeated Ohio State. Swinney went as far as to rank his Sugar Bowl opponent 11th in the coaches poll.
But while Clemson ultimately didn’t have to worry about Ohio State keeping them out of the College Football Playoff, the two teams make for an intriguing matchup. For all the Tigers’ talent advantage, the Buckeyes possess the offensive firepower on offense to match. Quarterback Justin Fields has played at a Heisman level this season despite a shifting supporting cast. But unlike in past games, he should have the majority of his key offensive teammates available for the Sugar Bowl.
Fields will likely have to play at his best to match Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson offense. Lawrence, the likely No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft, has a peak higher than any other signal-caller in the nation. He has also shown the ability to overcome mistakes, as he demonstrated during the ACC Championship Game. With Lawrence at the helm, the Tigers have lost just one game (their other defeat occurred while he sat out with COVID-19).
Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming
You can watch Clemson and Ohio State in the 2021 Sugar Bowl on Friday, Jan. 1 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. You can stream it via WatchESPN or the ESPN app with a cable or streaming service login.
Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends
Point spread: Clemson -7.5
Point Total: 68
Money line: Ohio State (+220), Clemson (-286)
- Since 2016, Ohio State has a record of 1-1-0 against the spread as the underdog.
- Likewise, the Buckeyes have an over record of 1-1-0 during the same stretch.
- Since 2016, Clemson has a 37-26-1 record against the spread as the favorite.
- Also during that period, the Tigers have an over record of 28-35-1 as the favorite.
Sugar Bowl Betting splits
Clemson: (65% of handle, 67% percent of bets)
Ohio State: (35% of handle, 33% percent of bets)
The Best Bet
Between the two CFP semifinals, Clemson-Ohio State should be the better the game. While the Tigers are 7.5 point favorites, it’s hard to see the Buckeyes getting blown out with Chris Olave back at wide receiver and the running back duo of Trey Sermon and Master Teague. Furthermore, Justin Fields will be looking to show that he’s better than what he was in the Big Ten title game and will go toe-to-toe with Trevor Lawrence and Clemson’s offense.
Pick: Ohio State +7.5
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