Last Updated 12:48 AM, January 02, 2021

No. 3 Ohio State defeats No. 2 Clemson 49-28 in the College Football Playoff

Breaking down the 2020 Heisman Trophy finalists
4:37 am, January 2, 2021

No. 3 Ohio State defeats No. 2 Clemson 49-28

Adam Cairns | USA TODAY Sports Images Ohio State defeated Clemson in the College Football Playoff.

No. 3 Ohio State defeated No. 2 Clemson 49-28 in the Sugar Bowl, setting up a national championship game between two undefeated teams in No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State on Monday, Jan. 11. Ohio State's quarterback Justin Fields led the way, despite taking a brutal tackle to his ribs, as he stayed in the game and completed 22-of-28 passes for 385 yards and six touchdowns. Running back Trey Sermon was a standout, too, running for 193 yards and a touchdoown on 31 carries.

After finding itself in a 14-0 hole, Ohio State's defense forced three punts in a row and in the second half, the Buckeyes's "D" forced a fumble and an interception, plus another punt and a turnover on downs.

Click or tap here for stats from the game.

4:57 am, January 2, 2021

Ohio State intercepts Trevor Lawrence in the end zone

On 4th & 6 on the Ohio State 8-yard line, Trevor Lawrence was intercepted on an incredible play by several Ohio State defenders, who knocked the ball and into the hands of Ohio State defensive back Sevyn Banks's hands, and Banks returned the ball 38 yards.
4:25 am, January 2, 2021

No. 3 Ohio State 49, No. 2 Clemson 28

Clemson answered Ohio State's two-play scoring drive with a 26-yard pass from Trevor Lawrence to Cornell Powell, cutting the deficit to 21 points in the fourth quarter.
3:59 am, January 2, 2021

Ohio State forces a turnover, recovers fumble

Adam Cairns | USA TODAY Sports Images Clemson's Trevor Lawrence turned the ball over late in the third quarter.

Leading 42-21, Ohio State forced a turnover as Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence lost control of the ball, forced by Tommy Togiai and recovered by linebacker Justin Hilliard.

3:52 am, January 2, 2021

No. 3 Ohio State 42, No. 2 Clemson 21

Adam Cairns | USA TODAY Sports Images Ohio State's Garrett Wilson.

Ohio State hit a home-run play to score its sixth touchdown of the game as Justin Fields found Chris Olave for a 56-yard strike to put the Buckeyes up 42-21.

3:35 am, January 2, 2021

No. 3 Ohio State 35, No. 2 Clemson 21

Chuck Cook | USA TODAY Sports Images Clemson's Travis Etienne.

After intercepting Justin Fields in the end zone, Clemson drove down the field and completed a 14-point swing, as a potential Buckeyes touchdown was thwarted and instead, the Tigers scored on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Lawrence to Cornell Powell. Powell had a 29-yard reception two plays before that.

3:29 am, January 2, 2021

Ohio State's Justin Fields throws an interception of Buckeyes's first second-half drive

As the Buckeyes tried to extend their lead to 28 points, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields threw an interception in the end zone after the pass was tipped, giving Clemson a much-needed turnover.
3:02 am, January 2, 2021

Halftime: No. 3 Ohio State 35, No. 2 Clemson 14

Derick Hingle | USA TODAY Sports Images Ohio State leads 35-14 at halftime.

Ohio State scored 35 unanswered points to take a three-possession lead over Clemson into halftime. The fifth and final first-half touchdown for the Buckeyes came on a 12-yard pass from Justin Fields to tight end Jeremy Ruckert after Ohio State traveled 80 yards in 12 plays.

In the first half, Fields was 16-for-18 passing for 223 yards and four touchdowns.

2:39 am, January 2, 2021

No. 3 Ohio State 28, No. 2 Clemson 14

Derick Hingle | USA TODAY Sports Images Ohio State leads Clemson 28-14.

In his first play back in the game after leaving the field following a hard hit that disqualified Clemson linebacker James Skalski, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields found Chris Olave for a nine-yard touchdown pass to complete a nine-play, 75-yard drive that allowed the Buckeyes to double up the Tigers 28-14.

2:14 am, January 2, 2021

No. 3 Ohio State 21, No. 2 Clemson 14

Derick Hingle | USA TODAY Sports Images Ohio State's Justin Fields.

After Clemson elected to punt on 4th & 2 from its own 43-yard line, Ohio State took its first lead of the game, 21-14, as Justin Fields found tight end Jeremy Ruckert for a 17-yard touchdown, capping off a nine-play, 84-yard drive.

1:57 am, January 2, 2021

No. 2 Clemson 14, No. 3 Ohio State 14

Derick Hingle | USA TODAY Sports Images Ohio State scored 14 points in the first quarter.

This game has all the offense you want, as three possessions in a row have ended in touchdowns, with 28 total points scored in the first quarter. After Clemson answered Ohio State's first scoring drive with a touchdown, the Buckeyes marched down the field, scoring after six plays that went 75 yards, with tight end Luke Farrell catching an eight-yard pass in the end zone from Justin Fields.

The longest gain on the drive was a 47-yard completion from Fields to Garrett Wilson, that took Ohio State within Clemson's 10-yard line.

1:54 am, January 2, 2021

No. 2 Clemson 14, No. 3 Ohio State 7

Russell Costanza | USA TODAY Sports Images Clemson's Travis Etienne.

Travis Etienne capped off a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive with a three-yard touchdown run on the handoff from Trevor Lawrence. The Tigers had four plays of at least 15 yards on the drive, including two in a row to start the drive – a 15-yard pass to Braden Galloway and a 16-yard completion to Amari Rodgers.

1:44 am, January 2, 2021

No. 2 Clemson 7, No. 3 Ohio State 7

Joshua A. Bickel | USA TODAY Sports Images Ohio State's Trey Sermon.

After Ohio State and Clemson traded punts after Clemson's touchdown on the opening drive, the Buckeyes answered on a 32-yard touchdown run by running back Trey Sermon, who was the team's standout performer in the Big Ten Championship Game against Northwestern. On the play before Sermon's touchdown run, he took a pass from Justin Fields for 34 yards.

1:26 am, January 2, 2021

No. 2 Clemson 7, No. 3 Ohio State 0

Adam Cairns | USA TODAY Sports Images Clemson's Trevor Lawrence.

The second-ranked Clemson Tigers received the opening kickoff, then rattled off an eight-play, 82-yard scoring drive that ended with quarterback Trevor Lawrence taking a two-yard run to the house. A 27-yard completion from Lawrence to Cornell Powell on 3rd & 5 was the longest play on the drive, and running back Travis Etienne also ran for 26 yards earlier on the drive.

1:24 am, January 2, 2021

The Sugar Bowl is underway

Chuck Cook | USA TODAY Sports Images Clemson's Dabo Swinney and Ohio State's Ryan Day.

The 2021 Sugar Bowl is underway between No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Ohio State. The Tigers start with the ball, so the Buckeyes will get the ball at the start of the second half.

12:41 am, January 2, 2021

No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Ohio State about to kick off

The second 2021 College Football Playoff Semifinal will kick off shortly, as No. 2 Clemson takes on No. 3 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana. The winner will play No. 1 Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday, Jan. 11.

Clemson and Ohio State also met last season in the College Football Playoff Semifinal, with the Tigers prevailing 29-23 in the Fiesta Bowl. Clemson also defeated Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl in the 2016 season, 31-0.

This year's Sugar Bowl will feature two of the best quarterbacks in the country – Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State's Justin Fields.

10:16 pm, December 23, 2020

How to watch Clemson vs. Ohio State

For the fourth time in eight seasons, Clemson and Ohio State will meet in a high-profile bowl game. The Tigers will look to advance to their third straight College Football Playoff national championship game while the Buckeyes attempt to break through to the title game for the first time since 2014.

  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • Date: Friday, Jan. 1
  • TV channel, streaming: ESPN
  • Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans, LA
11:42 pm, December 23, 2020

Clemson vs. Ohio State: Preview

Getty Images Clemson's Trevor Lawrence.

Welcome to Clemson-Ohio State: Sugar Bowl edition.

For the second time in as many years, the Tigers and Buckeyes will meet with a national championship game appearance on the line. In 2019, Clemson beat Ohio State 29-23 on Trevor Lawrence's late passing touchdown and a game-clinching interception from Nolan Turner. The rematch could be just as exciting, but with the potential for a whole lot more offensive fireworks.

Both programs finished seventh or better in scoring among FBS teams. Clemson puts up nearly 45 points per game while Ohio State isn't far behind with an average of 42.5. The difference is how each team gets it done.

Lawrence (above) has been the heartbeat of Clemson's offense and he's only played in the fourth quarter a handful of times this year. The junior has thrown for 22 touchdowns and run for another seven while accumulating 2,964 total yards. His Columbus counterpart, Justin Fields (below), produced 1,521 passing yards and 15 scores through the air in a shortened season. However, the ground game is where OSU has thrived in 2020. 

Getty Images Justin Fields, Ohio State quarterback.

Fields' dual-threat capability forces defense to key in on him, but he's just one option in the Buckeye's three-pronged rushing attack. Master Teague and Trey Sermon lead the nation's fifth-ranked rushing offense. OSU averages 275.7 yards per game, grinding out more than 6 yards per carry. Clemson faces a difficult task in stopping a number of capable ballcarriers, though the Tigers allow fewer than 100 yards rushing to opponents on average.

Both OSU and Clemson are effective in stopping the run, ranking seventh and ninth in opponents yards allowed. That might spell trouble for Clemson's Travis Etienne in addition to Teague and Sermon. But it might also direct the spotlight to Lawrence and Fields in what could be a precursor to a budding rivalry ahead of a jump to the NFL. 

Clemson can clinch its third straight CFP championship game appearance while Ohio State will look to return to the title game since it won the inaugural Playoff.

The Buckeyes have never beat Clemson through four tries. Each of those contests was in Florida or Arizona. Things could be different this time at a more memorable destination. OSU earned its first-ever CFP win at the Sugar Bowl, shocking No. 1 seed Alabama in 2014 before winning the CFP championship game. By comparison, Clemson is 0-1 at the Sugar Bowl in Playoff games.

9:58 pm, December 23, 2020

Clemson vs. Ohio State: Series history

This year's CFP semifinal will be the fifth time Clemson and Ohio State meet on the gridiron. The Tigers lead the series 4-0, most recently edging the Buckeyes 29-23 at the 2019 Fiesta Bowl. All of the previous four meetings have come in bowl games with the past two taking place during the College Football Playoff.

A year ago, Trevor Lawrence found Travis Etienne for the go-ahead score with 1:49 to play before Nolan Turner sealed the Tigers' win, intercepting Justin Fields in the end zone with 37 seconds left.

Here's a look at all of the games:

Clemson vs. Ohio State: Scores, all-time series
1978 Jacksonville, FL Clemson, 17-15 Clemson 1-0
2014 Miami, FL (Orange Bowl) Clemson, 40-35  Clemson, 2-0
2016* Glendale, AZ (Fiesta Bowl) Clemson, 31-0 Clemson, 3-0
2019* Glendale, AZ (Fiesta Bowl) Clemson, 29-23 Clemson, 4-0

* — Indicates College Football Playoff

9:15 pm, December 23, 2020

Clemson vs. Ohio State: Stats, how they match up

Clemson comes into the game at 9-1 on a three-game winning streak. Ohio State is 6-0, one of five unbeaten FBS teams as of Wednesday, Dec. 23.

Here's a look at the statistics for both teams:

Clemson vs. Ohio State
10-1 (9-1 ACC) Record 6-0 (6-0 Big Ten)
44.9 Points per game 42.5
17.5 Points allowed 21.0
507.6 Yards per game 529.2
343.8 Pass yards 253.5
163.8 Rush yards 275.7
298.5 Yards allowed 358.0
198.6 Pass yards allowed 261.3
99.8 Rush yards allowed 96.7
Trevor Lawrence
2,753 yards (22 TD, 4 INT)
Passing leader Justin Fields
1,521 yards (15 TDs, 5 INT)
Travis Etienne
882 yards (13 TDs)
Rushing leader Trey Sermon
675 yards (3 TDs)
Amari Rodgers
68 catches, 966 yards (7 TD)
Receiving leader Garrett Wilson
38 catches, 621 yards (5 TDs)
Nolan Turner
61 total tackles (6 TFL, 3 INT)
Defense Pete Werner
37 total tackles (2.5 TFL, 1 sack, 2 FF)