I have the pleasure of being related to some incredible athletes, both male and female. On my wife's side, she was a collegiate golfer, and captain of her team. She also has four family members (cousins and a brother) who all played D-1 collegiate football - one at our chief rival, and one as recent as 2014. The other two played during the late 1990's, one at a B1G school and one at a MAC school.
My wife now studies behavior, and is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to forensic psychology. Me? I'm the Buckeye alumnus who does his best to NOT view everything through scarlet-colored glasses. Given the family's location (Northern Ohio), their athletic pedigree, and my fandom, it was natural to have a discussion about the Fiesta Bowl. Here were my takeaways from our talk -
INTERVIEWING/PRESSERS - My wife was valuable here. She talked about tonality, eye contact and hand motions during pressers. She pointed out interviews with Clemson players and coaches, where they only delivered bare-bones responses. Spontaneously, they would also offer justifications for what they were saying, without being asked. She also noticed Dabo Swinney in particular would slow his speech patterns, and then would speed up, speaking in fragments. These are all signs of deception and pressure, and the Clemson players also show signs of unease. Gesturing inward toward themselves, while pressing their lips are also signs of pressure, unease, and/or deception.
The team that is clearly practicing and appearing looser is Ohio State. Clemson coaches and players are displaying signs of being under great pressure, and having a fake confidence in an attempt to control the narrative.
Now, for the on the field fun -
TECHNIQUE AND FIRST STEPS - All four former football players were in unanimous agreement that Ohio State has advantages in the "three S's" - Strength, Size, and Speed. Couple that with "attacking" first steps by O-Line and D-Line players, and Ohio State was their bet to control the point of attack, on both sides of the ball. One former player pointed out the cutoff blocks executed by Ohio State O-Linemen, driving off of their outside foot. He also pointed out the interior linemen for Ohio State displaying superior hand technique, when their inside hand executes a pull-through technique to help neutralize a rusher he cannot cut-off. I knew none of this before speaking with them, and I am sure I'm leaving out much more important information. But hey, I'm a fan, and was excited to learn new information from guys who knew what they were talking about.
ONE-ON-ONE MATCHUPS - Particularly at the skill positions, Ohio State matches up well against Clemson, and holds a clear athletic edge. We are not talking EVERY position, but the depth that Ohio State has edges out the depth Clemson has (Ohio State WR's 1-4 are better than Clemson DB's 1-4). Justin Fields decision making is similar to Trevor Lawrence, but he displays better decision making when playing from behind the sticks, which will happen.
Without continuing on even more in depth, or making this a read that is way too long, I will leave you with our general consensus -
Ohio State should win by 10-14 points. So with that, BRING ON SATURDAY.