CFP64: The Championship

The Buckeyes have been unstoppable most of the season, and have dominated the tournament, so it was no surprise when CJ Stroud found Chris Olave streaking down the sideline on the second play from scrimmage for a 72 yard score.  Or when, just over 4 minutes later, TreyVeon Hederson Broke off tackle on first down after a Clemson three and out for 64 more yards.  Just over 5 minutes into the game and the Tigers were in a 14-0 hole.

The Tigers didn’t roll over; D.J. Uiagalelei led a brilliant 15 play, 75 yard drive consisting of mostly short underneath passes; on the drive he was 11-14 for 66 yards; he also accounted for the 9 rushing yards.

The momentum was short lived; 4 plays later OSU reclaimed the 2 touchdown lead when Stroud hit TE Jeremy Ruckert on a post in the back of the end zone. 

The Tigers kept form, eating up 7 more minutes into the second quarter… even managing something of a ground game behind Will Shipley’s 9 carries for 41 yards.  The play action opened and Uiagalelei finished the deal finding a wide open Justyn Ross for 26 yards and a score.  

The Buckeyes were completely unphased; Stroud took them efficiently down the field once again, completing all 7 of his passes for 75 yards and a 9 yard toss to an open Garrett Wilson.

Clemson took over with just over 8 minutes left, most of which they ate up with another grinding 14 play drive.  This one, however, stalled at the 22 and the Tigers settled for a 39 yard B.T. Potter FG.  

With only seconds left, the Buckeyes took a knee and went into the half holding a 28-17 lead.  The Tigers were holding their own, but showed no indication that they could even remotely slow down the Buckeyes.

That didn’t seem to bother the Tigers to start the second half.  Shipley took the kickoff into OSU territory to the 45, and on first down a TE screen to Davis Allen seemed to catch the entire Buckeye D asleep, and picked up 39 yards to the 6.  The tide shifted quickly on the next play, however, when Uiagalelei fumbled the snap.  Tyreke Smith fell on and the Clemson threat was over. 

Stroud quickly led the Buckeyes down the field, continuing his accurate night, going 6 of 7 before the drive stalled at the 8 and Noah Ruggles hit the chip shot to expand the lead to 31-17.

The air seemed to have come out of the Tigers offense; 3 straight incompletions- two of which weren’t close- and a bad punt later the Buckeyes set up shop at their own 40.  Henderson spent the next 7+ minutes bulldozing through the Clemson D before Stroud found Olave again on play action to all but put the game away halfway through the third quarter at 38-17.

The Tigers didn’t quit, though.  Uiagalelei led yet another epic drive, eating up the rest of the third quarter.  17 plays, 83 yards this time; all but one of the plays were through the air… that one exception being a sneak by Uiagalelei on fourth down from the one on the first play of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 2 tds.

All they had to do now was slow that Buckeyes Juggernaut of an offense, which was already over 400 yards.  They did not.  Stroud remained near perfect, mixing a series of short passes with Henderson runs, converting 3 third downs, leading them to a third and goal from the 8.  Stroud hit Emeka Egbuka on a crossing pattern.  The ball went off of his fingers, however, and into the arms of R.J. Mickens at the goal line, who took the interception untouched down the sideline for 100 yards, and the Tigers had somehow pulled to within 38-31.

The whole dynamic of the game had changed… for the first time Clemson bottled the Buckeyes up; Henderson lost 2 on first down, and after an incompletion Stroud was sacked.

Will Taylor took the short punt back 31 yards, and the Tigers took over at the Ohio State 48.

Uiagalelei went for the jugular, going deep down the sideline, but the ball was badly underthrown and picked off by Ryan Watts at the Buckeyes 10.  

There was no second stop for the Tigers; Stroud took the Buckeyes methodically down the field, milking the clock as much as possible, until, with just over three minutes left, they faced a third and 8 from the Clemson 12.  Stroud was sacked, but Ruggles put the 37 yard FG just inside the left upright for a 41-31 lead that looked to have ended the Tigers.

They weren’t done yet.  Davis Allen got loose again, weaving his way straight up the middle before breaking free at the 40.  The didn’t catch them this time, and with 2 minutes and change left and all three timeouts, the Tigers were only down by a FG.

The onside kick surprised even the cameraman; Clemson had fallen on it literally before some of the Buckeyes knew it was an onside.

2 quick out patterns moved the Tigers into Buckeye Territory at the 47, but the miracle all but died when Uiagalelei fired off Four straight incompletes.

The four most loved… and hated words in all of football struck next… “Flag on the play.”  The Buckeyes pass interference call gave the Tigers new life at the OSU 32 with just 55 seconds left.  Seemingly playing for the field goal, the first play was a simple off tackle run, which the Buckeyes were more than ready for with 10 in the box.  Only… Shilely shot clean through that box, and once he was past it, the only thing between him and a stunning Clemson title was grass.

The Buckeyes did get the ball back with 37 seconds left, but after a quick sideline hit for 6 yards, three deep incompletions hit the ground… and the Tigers had shocked the Buckeyes again.

2022 FBS Team Schedules

2022 FBS Team Schedules

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