Butler County connection highlights things to know about the Ohio State-Clemson matchup

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Fairfield offensive lineman Jackson Carman picked Clemson over Ohio State and USC.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Ohio State and Clemson are set to meet for the fourth time in late December.

For the second time, a trip to the national championship game will be on the line.

>>READ MORE: Buckeyes going back to familiar spot

The No. 2-seed Buckeyes and No. 3 Tigers are familiar foes when it comes to the postseason, but that’s only one thing to know about the Fiesta Bowl matchup that doubles as a College Football Playoff semifinal game.

Here are five:

1. The Tigers are as impressive as the Buckeyes statistically. 

Clemson ranks No. 4 in scoring offense and first in scoring defense. The defending national champions are third in total offense and first in total defense with stopping the pass a particular strength. They are No. 1 nationally both in passing yards allowed and pass efficiency defense while ranking No. 9 against the run.

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is No. 7 nationally in pass efficiency and fifth in points responsible for while running back Travis Etienne is sixth in the nation in rushing yards (1,500) and No. 1 in yards per carry (8.2).

The defense is led by Butkus Award-winning linebacker Isaiah Simmons, who led the team with 84 tackles in the regular season.

2. That goes for advanced stats, too. 

While Ohio State remains No. 1 in the advanced metric SP+, Clemson is No. 4 overall with the No. 6 offense and third-best defense.

Clemson also has the No. 1 offensive line in the country according to FootballOutsiders.com (Ohio State is fifth) and the No. 6 defensive line (two spots behind Ohio State).

3. The Clemson series offers pretty much nothing for Ohio State fans to feel good about. 

Seriously. The Buckeyes are 0-3 against the Tigers, but the depth of negativity goes much lower than that.

The last time the teams played, Clemson embarrassed Ohio State 31-0 in a CFP semifinal in Arizona three years ago. It was the worst loss of Urban Meyer’s coaching career, but at least he wasn’t fired when it was over.

That happened to Woody Hayes, who punched Clemson linebacker Charlie Bauman after a game-clinching interception in the Gator Bowl that capped the 1978 season.

>>LAST GAME: Buckeyes rally from 14 down to win Big Ten Championship game

In between, Clemson beat Ohio State 40-35 in the Orange Bowl to conclude the 2013 season. That is the most points the Buckeyes have ever scored without winning.

While the 2013 season led to changes on the defensive coaching staff, the ’16 contest opened the door to Meyer bringing in Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day to run the offense (by revamping the passing game).

4. Ohio State has a happy history in the Fiesta Bowl (mostly). 

That loss to the Tigers notwithstanding, there was a time the Fiesta Bowl was the Buckeyes’ happy place.

They lost their first one against Penn State in 1980 then won four in a row, including the one played Jan. 3, 2003, against Miami (Fla.) that delivered the school’s seventh national championship.

The Buckeyes have trounced Notre Dame twice in the Fiesta Bowl but lost a close one to Texas in January 2009.

Overall, Ohio State is 6-2 in the Fiesta Bowl, which was played in Tempe, Ariz., until 2007.

The stadium in Glendale where the Buckeyes and Tigers will play was also the site of a shocking 41-14 loss to Florida in the BCS Championship game concluding the 2006 season.

5. The Tigers have two Ohioans on the roster. 

They are both offensive linemen from Southwest Ohio.

Jackson Carman, a 6-foot-5, 345-pound sophomore from Fairfield, made the All-ACC third team this season, his first as a starter.

Carman was among the most-coveted recruits in the country two years ago, and his decision to sign with Clemson instead of Ohio State stunned most observers.

"If leaving Ohio is necessary for me to be able to start my legacy that's a decision that's gonna have to be made and I wasn't afraid to make that decision," he said at the time.

>>READ MORE about Carman’s commitment to Clemson

Carman is one of seven Tigers who were five-star recruits (so is Lawrence) while Matt Bockhorst, a sophomore reserve offensive lineman from Cincinnati St. Xavier, is one of 33 four-stars.

Clemson is ninth in the 247Sports Talent Composite, which measures current rosters by recruiting rankings, while Ohio State is No. 2 behind Alabama.

Ohio State has 13 five-stars and 47 four-stars.

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