Big-play passing game meets big-hole secondary in Miami

Clemson's Mike Williams congratulates teammate Sammy Watkins following his 91-yard touchdown catch during the third quarter at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Mike Williams congratulates teammate Sammy Watkins following his 91-yard touchdown catch during the third quarter at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.

You can ask and ask, but the Tigers won't acknowledge Ohio State's issues aplenty on pass defense.

"They don't make a lot of mistakes," Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said. "They've been a little inconsistent in a game or two, but big picture-wise, they compete at a high level."

Inconsistent is being nice.

The Buckeyes are in the triple digits nationally in pass 'D' overall (259.5 per game), allowing both intermediate (No. 111 in 10-yard-plus completions allowed) and deep throws (seven 70-yard passes; one of only seven teams to give up two 80-yard connections).

Against FBS competition, they have allowed 278.7 yards a game, and in road/neutral site games, they've surrendered over 300 per (307.7). In two games against ranked opponents, Ohio State allowed 299.5 yards and five touchdowns to two interceptions (despite only a 59.5 completion rate).

Meanwhile, Clemson's passing game - and especially its deep-passing game - has been at its height under third-year coordinator Chad Morris.

The Tigers paced the ACC averaging 329.2 yards per game - 327.1 per against FBS competition.

Senior gunslinger Tajh Boyd is in the top-10 nationally in 30+ (25), 40+ (15), 50+ (8), 60+ (7), 70+ (5, No. 1 overall), 80+ (2) and 90+ passes (2, No. 1 overall).

Biletnikoff finalist Sammy Watkins is in the top-15 nationally in 30+ (10), 40+ (8), 50+ (5), 60+ (4), 70+ (3, No. 1 overall), 80+ (2, No. 1 overall) and 90+ catches (2, No. 1 overall). Big target Martavis Bryant leads the ACC into the bowl season in yards per catch (20.5) for a second consecutive season.

"We just have to continue to play Clemson football," junior receiver Adam Humphries said. "If we're clicking, we can play against anybody. We just have to continue to do what we do and make big plays down the field."

"It's a good matchup," Swinney said. "We like our guys and they like their guys. For us, it's about Clemson. Our guys understand that."

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Comments » 2

tigerrob44 writes:

If the outcome of a game was based on historical data or stats we will win because the stats say we will. Unfortunately, games aren't decided by statistics of prior games or the statistics of the game you play.

TigerNE writes:

Most important stat in my book is that OSU hasn't faced a QB anywhere near as highly ranked as Boyd nor have they faced a QB with as much experience. Throw the WR talent we have on top of their inability to stop lesser talented offenses and there is a lot going in our favor. Provided we don't come out "rusty" like earlier in the season and key players are at the top of their game.

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