Photo via USA Today Sports

Who: Ohio State vs Clemson

When: December 31, 7PM EST

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium—Glendale, Arizona

Watch: ESPN

Winner: Clemson

I don’t think it’s controversial to say that this will be a much closer game than the Alabama-Washington game. Of all the bowl season articles, this was the hardest to write, because I don’t see a clear winner.

Both teams have earned their place in this game. Clemson clawed its way to the playoff last year and knows its way around a football. Ohio State has proven time and time again they belong here and know they have the talent to put them in the final.

This game will be a clash of Quarterbacks that could very well result in a point-for-point shootout. Deshaun Watson is an amazing QB with two conference championships under his belt. A win would solidify his place among the greats of the last few years. J.T. Barrett is a great QB as well, and shouldn’t be overlooked as a strong force for Ohio State coming into this game.

The last time these two teams met in a bowl, Clemson edged Ohio State by 5 points in a thriller. These two teams have been unstoppable since that 2014 Orange Bowl, and it’s hard to say who will come out on top in this one.

Ohio State has had its fair share of super-close contests—against Wisconsin, Michigan, and Michigan State—and has an obviously tough opponent in Clemson. Throughout the 2016 season, Clemson didn’t have nearly as many close calls this season.

Clemson’s strong O-line should open a lot of holes in the Ohio State defense, which will allow the Tigers to pierce OSU’s defense via the running game. This will be Clemson’s strongest weapon. If Ohio State wants to win, they’ll have to force Clemson’s hand by stopping their backs.

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Watson needs to be careful with his passing, because OSU has proven their ability to get a pick and turn defense into offense. If Watson makes a couple bad passes, the Buckeyes will almost certainly take advantage.

A lot of the lines I’ve seen from my peers call an Ohio State win. I get it. It’s hard to pick against Urban Meyer. He’s kind of like the Big Ten Nick Saban. Right now, Dabo is kind of the Budget Urban Meyer (budget Nick Saban?), but with a win in this game, he’d demonstrate that his program can play with the best of ‘em. Can Clemson hold up against Alabama? We’ll see, but in this game, the Tigers will shine.

Nicholai Babis is a sophomore International Studies major at Vassar College. He specializes in College Football. He is a lifelong Seminoles fan, as well as a Rays fan and a Tampa Bay Bucs fan. He grew up in Tampa, Florida. He is a co-owner of the JR report and works for Athletics at Vassar College. He is the college football contributor at the JR Report. Follow Nicholai on twitter @nibabis . Hit him up if you want to discuss CFB, NFL, golf, tennis, and more.
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