Three Key Stats: Red Zone Struggles, Dobbins' Outstanding Performance, Clemson's Explosive Offense

By Jake Anderson on December 29, 2019 at 8:00 am
Malik Harrison

Ryan Day's 16-game win streak has been broken.

In a game that featured the two best teams in college football, Ohio State fell in a heartbreaker, losing 23-29 to Clemson. The Fiesta Bowl proved to be worth the hype, with the two teams combining for over 900 total yards of offense. 

The game had a number of controversial moments that swayed the game away from the Buckeyes, but Ohio State's inability to take advantage of its scoring opportunities and minimize Clemson's big plays were important factors that resulted in the season-ending loss. 

The Buckeyes' red zone offense failed them at the least opportune time, scoring just 9 points in four trips inside the twenty.

Coming into the Fiesta Bowl, Ohio State scored a touchdown on 81.94% of its 72 trips to the red zone. It was the third-best mark in the country during the regular season. 

Last night, the Bucks went 0-for-4 in the red zone, opting for three field goals (including two inside the ten yard-line) and an unfortunate miscommunication on Ohio State's final offensive play of the season. The team's points per red zone trip average of 2.25 is by far its worst mark of the year and less than half of its season average. 

While Clemson's red zone defense is nothing to scoff at (No. 5 in percent of touchdowns allowed on red zone attempts), the Buckeyes' inability to execute in scoring position was inarguably the most important factor in the loss. 

Dobbins continued his big-game dominance, totaling 221 yards of offense and a touchdown.

J.K. Dobbins has cemented himself as one of the five best running backs in Ohio State history. He has now broken Eddie George's single-season rushing record and sits below only Archie Griffin in Ohio State's career rushing yards leaderboard. And last night, he gave it everything he had. 

Despite playing on a hobbled ankle in the second half, Dobbins simply did what he has done all year: perform his best in the most important games. The junior tailback posted 174 rushing yards on nearly ten yards a carry, including a spectacular 68-yard dash. He also added 47 yards through the air as well, giving him 221 total scrimmage yards. 

While Dobbins' two red zone drops may smear his otherwise incredible performance, his offensive value can not be understated. The offense was simply not flowing with Master Teague in the backfield. The sophomore backup gained just 9 yards in seven rushes. 

Ohio State's defense limited Clemson's long drives but gave up too many big plays, including three touchdowns of 30+ yards.

For the vast majority of the game, the Buckeyes' defense did its job. 

The Buckeyes did a great job in limitingTrevor Lawrence's arm, the home team could not stop his legs. He was the team's leading rusher and recorded a career-high in rushing yards and had the longest run of his young career. 

On another note, Ohio State forced seven punts and a long field goal attempt to go with four three-and-outs. The only time the Tigers were able to move down the field was with explosive plays. 

The away team had five passing plays of 20+ yards and four runs of 10+ yards. Three of Clemson's four touchdown drives included at least one play of 30+ yards. The fourth one was assisted by Shaun Wade's targeting penalty. 

The Buckeyes' big-play defense has been one of its strengths all season long, a big change from the 2018 season. Ohio State ranked sixth in plays of 20+ yards allowed during the regular season. The Tigers, however, were able to double the Buckeyes' average and use the local team's missteps to their advantage. 

View 32 Comments