No. 2 Ohio State lost 29-23 to No. 3 Clemson at the College Football Playoff at the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, a game to be remembered for a series of controversial call-changing games that didn’t go the Buckeyes way. “
Should State of Ohio fans have beef with the SEC crew? Yes. Was that the only reason the Buckeyes lost? No. Because the state of Ohio can blame itself for the loss.
This is the best way to approach the latest Ohio Playoff experience, even if the main topic of discussion for the foreseeable future will be this series of controversial calls from the referees.
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The state of Ohio can blame the referees for calling Shaun Wade to goal with 4:47 in the second quarter. It was a call from the book, though it was clear that Wade had no intention of chasing the head: It just hit Clemson general Trevor Lawrence at the head, in part because the latter put the blow in the last second. Instead of a sack ending in the drive, the Tigers went on to score their first touchdown of the game and eventually cut the lead to 16-0 with 16-14 before halftime, as the Buckeyes tried to adjust without starting the cornerback.
The state of Ohio cannot blame the substitutes for three red zone opportunities that led to three 33-meter field goals or less before that, however. Nor can he blame them for an offense that managed to manage 70 meters in the third quarter. A cruel penalty for Cameron Brown led to another Tigers touchdown in a 53-meter pass from Lawrence to Etienne. Whether the kicker was running or pulling is a crisis call. Don’t do it either way.
The game that will bring the biggest controversy, however, is Justyn Ross with 4:45 left in the third quarter, which Jordan Fuller picked up and ran for a touchdown. This call was overturned.
Our verdicts? The Wade call was the right call, but only because interpreting a bad rule leaves no choice. Removal was also the right call. Ross’s overthrow was the worst. For referees, this sums up their performance a little. Was this the SEC conspiracy? We don’t have enough tin foil.
MORE: Ohio State-Clemson: Fiesta Bowl Scores, Enhancements and Updates
However, Ohio State led 23-21 with 3:07 remaining and nailing Clemson on its own 6-yard line. A stop would have ended the game. Instead, Lawrence drove a 94-seater car in four theaters and Nolan Turner crossed Justin Fields the next route. There has been nothing controversial for the last two minutes and the Tigers have gone on to win their first game in 29 games.
The State of Ohio will mourn the missed opportunity of a dominant season in which the Buckeyes won every regular season with a double-digit number and had two Heisman Trophy finalists in the field and defensive end Chase Young. However, it was an injury to run back. J.K. Dobbins, who had 9 players for 142 yards in the first quarter before suffering an ankle injury in the second quarter, had the most impact on the game.
Ryan Day couldn’t be as aggressive as he wanted Dobbins to hit and the Tigers took advantage of some bad calls.
The Buckeyes will learn from the experience. This was not a complete collapse like the 2016 Fiesta Bowl, a 31-0 loss to Clemson. The fields will be back and among the Heisman Trophy favorites for a team that will win – again – in any regular season. The Buckeyes will prepare for a fourth Big Ten championship and another shot at the Playoff.
At least they don’t know how to leave it in the hands of the employees next time.
Championship teams never do it.