COMMENTARY | The Ohio State Buckeyes will look to redeem themselves on January 3.
On that day, the No. 7 Buckeyes will take on the Clemson Tigers in the Orange Bowl in their first game since losing to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game nearly a month ago. While losing to the Spartans on December 7 may have cost OSU a shot at the national title, a win over Clemson will at least prove that the Buckeyes are capable of defeating a quality non-conference opponent.
With a record of 10-2, the No. 12 Tigers have been no slouch in 2013 and will provide the Buckeyes with one of their toughest tests of the season. Despite the level of competition that Clemson will no doubt provide, I still believe that OSU will exit this matchup as the Orange Bowl champions, and these are three reasons why:
Clemson Has Struggled In Big Games Recently
When Clemson has had the opportunity to prove that it is a force to reckoned with on the national level, the Tigers have seemingly failed every time lately.
In their last trip to the Orange Bowl after the 2011 campaign, the Tigers were destroyed by West Virginia by a score of 70-33. After a victory over No. 9 LSU in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl, it appeared that the Tigers would be a dark-horse national title contender in 2013.
After a 6-0 start this season, Clemson entered its October 19 game against Florida State ranked third in the country. The Seminoles routed the Tigers 51-14, as Clemson once again faltered in an important game. Throw in the fact that the Tigers have lost five straight times to rival South Carolina, and you really have to wonder how this team will fare against an Ohio State team that has a history of performing well under the spotlight.
The Buckeyes Have Something To Prove
OSU will do something against Clemson that it has never had to do during Urban Meyer's two years with the Buckeyes -- try to rebound from a loss.
Though OSU's loss to the Spartans isn't looking as bad after MSU's victory over Stanford in the Rose Bowl on January 1, the Buckeyes need to show that they are a player on the national scene. Respect eluded OSU in the polls for much of 2013, until a string of losses by other teams finally gave the Buckeyes a chance to control their own destiny in the national title chase in November.
OSU coughed up that chance for a spot in the BCS championship game, and the Buckeyes need to defeat Clemson to regain some respect from the pollsters heading into 2014.
OSU's Offense Will Prove To Be Too Much For Clemson
Michigan's State stout defense proved to be OSU's downfall in the Big Ten title game. Luckily for the Buckeyes, Clemson is nowhere near as tough defensively.
In three games against ranked opponents in 2013, the Tigers allowed 39 points per game. That's great news for an Ohio State team that has the capability to score in bunches. The Buckeyes are averaging 46.3 points per game on the year, and if this game turns into a shootout, OSU has plenty of weapons offensively.
Running back Carlos Hyde is averaging 7.7 yards per carry in 2013, and has gone over the century mark in rushing yards in each of his last eight games. On the off chance that the Tigers' defense can slow down Hyde, quarterback Braxton Miller has the ability to hurt Clemson on the ground and through the air.
OSU has scored less than 30 points just once this season, so it's hard to imagine the Buckeyes struggling offensively against the Tigers.
Shaun Heidrick is a Yahoo Contributor who has followed Ohio State football for over 25 years.
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