Instant halftime analysis: Clemson leads Ohio St. 17-0 at the half


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Clelin Ferrell with the early tackle (Photo by Joe Camporeale, USAT)
Clelin Ferrell with the early tackle (Photo by Joe Camporeale, USAT)

GLENDALE, AZ - Clemson made two critical mistakes in the first half, giving Ohio St. the ball in Clemson territory, but the defense stood tall and the Tigers lead the Buckeyes 17-0 at halftime of the Fiesta Bowl.

PLAYER OF THE HALF:This has to go Clemson’s defense. The Tigers’ defensive line has been pressuring Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett all game and has one sack and five tackles for loss so far in the game.

The Buckeyes have 88 total yards – eight rushing and 80 through the air. They only have three first downs and are two-of-nine on third down.

Receiver Mike Williams has four catches for 70 yards and Hunter Renfrow has five for 49 yards.

STAT OF THE HALF: Clemson punter Andy Teasdall has gotten a lot of grief from the Clemson fanbase, but his first punt of the game was a beautiful as a rugby style kick can be. It went for 67 yards, a career long and tying a Clemson bowl game record.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Outside of the two turnovers, Clemson’s offense moved the ball well, amassing 275 yards – 197 through the air and 78 on the ground (33 yards came on a Deshaun Watson run). Clemson was four-of-seven on third down and averaged.6.4 yards per play.

Greg Huegel – who hasn’t attempted a field goal since he had one blocked early against South Carolina – hit a 45-yard field goal for Clemson’s first points of the game.

The defensive stats are above, but what more can you say about this unit? Clelin Ferrell and Carlos Watkins are playing like grown men. Ferrell has two tackles for loss and Watkins has two pass breakups.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers. Deshaun Watson threw two picks – one on his first pass attempt of the game and the second midway through the second quarter. The first was an under-thrown ball and Mike Williams slipped on the route. The second was simply a spectacular play by Ohio State safety Malik Hooker as he ran across the field to take the ball out of the hands of Hunter Renfrow in the endzone.

TURNING POINT OF THE HALF: After Watson’s first interception set Ohio State up in plus-territory, Buckeye kicker Tyler Durbin missed a field goal. On the ensuing Clemson possession, the Tigers drove down the field to set up a 45-yard Greg Huegel field goal attempt, which he nailed.

WHAT CLEMSON NEEDS TO DO WIN: Clemson needs to continue doing the little things right and eliminate the turnovers.

On defense, the Tigers need to continue getting pressure on J.T. Barrett and force him to throw the ball on long third downs.


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