This year's College Football Playoff Semi-finals presented some of the most intriguing matchups since the playoff format came into existence in 2014. The days leading into both games, presented its unique set of obstacles for each team involved. Whether it was injuries to key players as was the case for LSU and Ohio State, losing players to suspension as was the case for Oklahoma; or a team looking to gain respect like Clemson, the goal to play for a National Championship was all that matters in the end.
Peach Bowl - #4 Oklahoma vs. #1 LSU
Oklahoma 28 - LSU 62
Joe Burrow (LSU) - 29/39 completions, 493 passing yards, 7 passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown, 239.8 Passer rating
Justin Jefferson (LSU) - 14 receptions, 227 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns
Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma) - 15/31 completions, 217 passing yards, 43 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns
CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma) - 4 receptions, 119 receiving yards,
K'Lavon Chaisson (LSU) - 6 total tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss
If there were any questions about Joe Burrow's potential status as the number one overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, he answered them is historic fashion. Burrow's performance in the first half of this contest was the best ever by a quarterback in college football history; 21 of 27 for 403 yards and Seven passing touchdowns. Oklahoma, who was missing their key pass rusher in Ronnie Perkins prior to this contest, had no answers to stopping the LSU's offense. When the dust settled, Burrow finished with 515 all-purpose yards, and eight total touchdowns.
Junior receiver Justin Jefferson broke the college football playoff record with four touchdown receptions in the first half, and finished with 227 receiving yards. On defense, LSU linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson led the way with two sacks, and relegated Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts to only 43 rushing yards. Star receiver CeeDee Lamb finished with 119 receiving yards, and was the only reliable option available for Hurts.
Fiesta Bowl - #2 Ohio State vs. #3 Clemson
Clemson 29 - Ohio State 23
Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) - 18/33 completions, 259 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 107 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown
Travis Etienne Jr. (Clemson) - 10 carries, 36 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, 3 receptions, 98 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns
JK Dobbins (Ohio State) 18 carries, 147 rushing yards, one touchdown
Justin FIelds (Ohio State) 30/46 completions, 320 passing yards, one passing touchdown
Baylon Spector (Clemson) - 3 total tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss
We have seen occasions where one moment can change the entire complexion of a contest, this was no exception.
The first quarter saw Ohio State scored 10 unanswered points, courtesy of 68-yard touchdown from running back JK Dobbins, and a field goal. In the second quarter, the Clemson defense would hold Ohio State to just two field goals. Yet the turning point of this contest came midway in the quarter, when a targetting penalty on Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade, resulted in his disqualification from the game, and new life for the Clemson offense. They responded with a drive ending with Travis Etienne's touchdown, cutting their lead to nine. A series later, quarterback Trevor Lawrence's 67-yard touchdown would further cut Ohio State's lead, 16-14 heading into the halftime.
The third quarter saw Dobbins leave the contest with an undisclosed injury. Nearing the midpoint of the quarter, Etienne would strike again with a 53-yard catch-and-run touchdown, giving Clemson their first lead of the game. In the fourth quarter, Ohio State, led by quarterback Justin Fields, they would strike back with a drive, ending in receiver Chris Olave's 23-yard touchdown, giving them a 23-21 lead. It would stay that way until late in the quarter when Etienne would score again, along with a successful two-point convert to give them a 29-23 lead. On Ohio State's next possession, Fields would lead his team all the way to the Clemson's redzone. On 2nd-and-7, a pass intended for Olave is intercepted by senior safety Nolan Turner, ending their drive and giving Clemson the win over Ohio State. With this victory, Clemson with make their fourth National Championship appearance in five years.