Fiesta Bowl Pick

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Fiesta Bowl

College Football Playoff Pick

Ohio State




With Alabama such a big favorite in the early Game, the Fiesta Bowl (in Phoenix) is the College Football Playoff Game that most will have their eyes on, hence why it’s the night Game. And unlike most of the other bowls, the spread hasn’t really moved all that much with Ohio State a firm -3 point favorite against Clemson as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

Ohio State looked Alabama-like in the early season with huge wins over Tulsa and Oklahoma, but then the Schedule picked up and they looked vulnerable. A tough Game at Wisconsin chipped some ice away and then Penn State took an even bigger chip and created an iceberg. While the Buckeyes seemed back to normal in back-to-back 62-3 wins, they were simply mediocre in Games against Northwestern and Michigan State. And if anything, they were outplayed by Michigan in the double-overtime win, what many called lucky.

But on the other side of the ball, it’s kind of the same of the story as Clemson failed to show up every other week it seemed. The Tigers scraped by Auburn in the opener then couldn’t dispose of Troy. They had a big win over Louisville, but then should’ve lost to NC State. They took care of Florida State on the road, but then fell to Pitt at home. They dominated South Carolina and then looked beatable against Virginia Tech in the ACC title Game.

So which version of these teams will show up?

The Ohio State offense may be the biggest question because their offensive line struggled through the season and that’s what cost them the Game at Penn State. It did just enough in recent wins, but J.T. Barrett really struggled passing the ball late in the season because his line couldn’t hold up. Barrett had trouble against Northwestern, couldn’t do anything against a bad MSU pass defense and didn’t throw a touchdown against Michigan. Sure, his rushing numbers picked up, but this is the type of Game he’ll need something out of the passing Game in. Curtis Samuel is the top target in his hybrid RB-WR role, but Noah Brown is the wide receiver that needs to step up like when he had Four TDs against the Sooners.

Sure, the Buckeyes should be able to run the ball through Barrett, Samuel and running back Mike Weber (1,072 yards, 9 TDs), but this is arguably the best offense OSU has seen since Oklahoma, so the Bucks will need to Scoremore points. Clemson’s defensive front could easily give problems to Barrett and company, but while they are incredibly talented, still gave up points to good teams a la Louisville, Pitt and VT.

It’s the same situation on the other side of the ball as Ohio State’s defense clamped down on every opponent this season including Oklahoma, but without a truly elite offense in the Big Ten, this one may be different.

That’s made possible because of Deshaun Watson (37 TDs, 15 INTs) who still has the Heisman potential to make incredible plays at any point in the Game. Yes, he’s had turnover issues throughout the season, which has cost the team, but in big Games, he usually comes through such as last year in the Playoff. Mike Williams (1,171 yards, 10 TDs) is one of the best receivers in the country, but running back Wayne Gallman may be the more important piece. His numbers have fallen off this year (1,002 yards, 15 TDs), but getting him going will be important against the Buckeyes defense that allows 117.8 rushing yards per Game, one of the better rates in the nation.

The Buckeyes are 6-2 ATS in their last eight bowl Games, 5-0 ATS in their last five neutral-site Games, but 2-6 ATS in their last eight overall. The Tigers have covered in their last five bowl Games, but are 1-5 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.

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