Ohio State had over a month to prepare for the highly-anticipated CFP semifinal with Clemson in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl and head coach Urban Meyer managed to deliver a shutout.
Only it was the Buckeyes who were obliterated and embarrassed in 31-0 fashion by Clemson. The extra time to prepare clearly didn’t pay off and resulted in Ohio State’s first shutout since the Buckeyes were defeated 28-0 by that team up north in 1993.
Is anyone really shocked that Ohio State was unable to get the job done against a stacked Clemson team that was built for this season and appears will give Alabama all they can handle in a national title game rematch? No, at least they shouldn’t. Ohio State clearly peaked in September following the blowout of Oklahoma and offensively, has been in a steady decline ever since. Clemson was also primed to get back to the playoff for a second consecutive season and earn another shot at Alabama for all the marbles.
That they did. Hands down, Clemson was the better team however you slice it.
However, I don’t want to hear that Ohio State was “a year away” after all. I mean, clearly, after witnessing that performance Saturday night, it sure seemed more like two or three years away. But when Ohio State earned its way into the playoff, the Buckeyes were no longer a year away.
With that said, I don’t care if Ohio State came into this game as a three-point favorite or a four-touchdown underdog in the eyes of ESPN college football analyst and known Buckeye-hater Mark May, a top-tier program like Ohio State shouldn’t get shutout, ever. When the Buckeyes were blanked by Michigan in 1993, Ohio State was not a program that could be considered among the nation’s elite.
How was it that Ohio State’s offense couldn’t even muster garbage points against a Clemson defense that surrendered 10 points to Boston College? Pittsburgh hung 43 points on the Tigers defense in Death Valley and while Clemson’s defense is extremely talented, especially on the defensive line, it’s no Alabama front.
There is no way to describe Ohio State’s performance in the playoff as anything but pathetic and downright unacceptable. Awhile back, I placed Ohio State on a pedestal as Alabama’s potential replacement as the next college football dynasty. That may have been a reach, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Who knows? Maybe Meyer and the Buckeyes respond with a couple national titles and the Clemson debacle will be an afterthought down the road, but it’s wishful thinking.
A shutout in the biggest game of the year doesn’t change the fact that Meyer is still probably the second-best coach in the country, but if there are still any comparisons to Alabama’s Nick Saban, they need to come to a halt. Aside from possessing twice the amount of championship hardware, Saban is not going to get shutout in a playoff game. Instead, he fires offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin from a job he already quit in a 17-point victory en route to the national championship game.
Meyer would be the first one to admit that Ohio State’s performance was unacceptable and he will get this thing fixed, but he doesn’t get a pass on this. Meyer doesn’t lose often, but when he does, he takes losing to another level. Between Virginia Tech (2014), Michigan State (2015) and Clemson on Saturday, it couldn’t have been uglier.
We can blame quarterback J.T. Barrett for his inaccuracy, a struggling offensive line to put it mildly, a lack of separation by the receivers, running back Mike Weber’s butterfingers or even kicker Tyler Durbin, they all contributed to the loss. The shutout is all on Meyer and the offensive staff. Heck, even Jim Tressel and the Buckeyes managed 14 points in another Glendale fiasco, the 2006 national title game against Meyer and the Florida Gators.
For anyone insinuating that this is a “fire Urban” rant, it’s not and the thought of that is more ridiculous than the shutout itself. It’s simply an unacceptable showing that should not and will not be repeated. Meyer will make the necessary changes and adjustments and everything will be gravy next fall for another championship run.
Unexpectedly for some, 2016 was a year that saw Ohio State make the playoff, its second appearance in three seasons. Meyer and the Buckeyes proceeded to hit rock-bottom and for the majority of programs, it would still be a successful season. But this is Ohio State. The offense is Meyer’s baby and it’s time for him to clean up the mess.
E-mail Mark at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @msilverman25
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