Ohio State has drawn the defending national champion in the Fiesta Bowl for the 2019 College Football Playoff.
After the matchup between the second-seeded Buckeyes and No. 3 Clemson was announced, the coaches of the teams spoke on a teleconference.
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Here are five takeaways from what OSU’s Ryan Day and Dabo Swinney of Clemson had to say:
1. Day respects the Tigers for being able to maintain a level of excellence.
Clemson is the defending national champion and the only team with a longer winning streak than Oho State. The Tigers have won 28 games in a row while Ohio State has won its last 19.
“I just want to say congratulations to coach Swinney and Clemson for an unbelievable season. And we have the utmost respect for what they've done, not only winning national championships, but then continuing that excellence. It's very hard when you are the top dog, and everyone is giving you the best shot, to continue to do what they've done. So nothing but utmost respect for those guys and looking forward to a big challenge. Not only are they talented, but they're very well-coached.”
2. Swinney called Ohio State “one of the most dominant teams every week all year long.”
“That's an unbelievable accomplishment,” the Clemson coach said. “Talented on both sides of the ball. Just two great programs that I know that will have great will to win, and it's going to be an awesome environment and a great game. No doubt about it. It's a blessing to be a part of it. We're thankful. And just really looking forward to the whole experience out there.”
3. Ohio State playing so many noon games let Swinney get a few early looks at the Buckeyes.
“I have had a chance to see them several times with the way our schedule has been, and it's just impressive. I mean, impressive,” Swinney said. “Just built in the trenches. They're good up front on both sides. They've got as good a players there is in college football coming off the edge. Their quarterback has been amazing. They've got great skill outside and great backs that can run the ball. So this is a very complete team, very well-coached. And it's going to be a challenge.”
4. Day said a larger playoff would allow for a “cleaner” process.
“I think it's definitely something we should consider,” Day said when asked about how his team might handle having to play three more games to win it all rather than two. “Not that it would be easy to play three more games, but I definitely think that we should consider taking the conference champs in the Power 5 programs. I just think that's a cleaner way to do it. I know there's certain issues we would have to work through, not that now is the time to focus on those type of questions and thoughts. It's now time to just get ready for the game.
“In the offseason, I think it's definitely something we should continue to talk about.”
Although LSU getting the No. 1 seed over Ohio State was somewhat controversial, few have quibbled with the final four of LSU, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma this season.
The Buckeyes and both sets of Tigers went undefeated and Oklahoma has one loss while Pac-12 champion Oregon has two, although the Ducks' loss was a quality one to Auburn to start the year.
Oregon finished sixth in the final rankings while Auburn was 12th.
5. Swinney is not sad his alma mater Alabama missed the playoff for the first time.
“Don't feel bad — they will be back real soon,” he said. “They will be fine. They are an unbelievable team.”
The Tigers smashed the Crimson Tide 44-16 last year in the national championship game, the fourth consecutive year the teams played in either the semifinals or the final.
The chances of a fifth matchup in a row were wiped out when coach Nick Saban’s team lost to LSU and Auburn in the regular season and finished 13th in the final rankings.
“Coach Saban's track record speaks for itself,” Swinney said of the six-time national champion coach. “It didn't work out for them this year, but I’ll guarantee you, they'll be back. No doubt.”
Swinney is an Alabama native who walked on to the Tide in the early ‘90s and was part of a national championship season in 1992.
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