The 2021 Sugar Bowl will kick off from the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana on January 1st, 2021. The game will be televised on ESPN at 8 p.m EST.
Clemson and Ohio State will meet in a College Football Playoff Semifinal for the second year in a row. The 2020 Fiesta Bowl ended in heartbreak for the Buckeyes, as the Tigers booked their ticket to the National Championship game on a last-minute interception.
So far, that loss in the Fiesta Bowl is the only loss in Ryan Day’s 22-1 record as a head coach.
After the 29-23 Clemson victory, the Tigers met their match in the National Championship game. Joe Burrow ended his historic season with 436 passing yards and five touchdowns in the 42-25 rout.
Each team has lost its most recent postseason game. Day will be searching for his first Bowl win as the Buckeyes head coach.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has defeated Ohio State all three times he has faced them. His first two wins were against Urban Meyer in the 2014 Orange Bowl and the 2016 Fiesta Bowl.
Clemson is one of the few teams that has faced Ohio State that the Buckeyes have never defeated. Ohio State will look to change that in the 2021 Sugar Bowl.
2021 Sugar Bowl Preview
Ohio State fans think of the Sugar Bowl fondly. The last time the Buckeyes appeared, Cardale Jones and Ezekiel Elliott shocked Alabama on their way to the first College Football Playoff National Championship.
Clemson has only played in the Sugar Bowl twice and lost twice. The first was a 7-0 loss to LSU in 1959, and the second was a 24-6 loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State will look to extend its streak of three straight Sugar Bowl wins (including the 2011 game which has been vacated by the NCAA). Clemson will look to turn their Sugar Bowl misfortunes around in 2021.
Ohio State Buckeyes
A College Football Playoff semifinal is something that Buckeye fans didn’t think they would see this year.
With the Big Ten canceling the season, to the game cancellations that have happened since the season resumed, Ohio State only played five regular-season games. Initially, according to conference rules, even a Big Ten Championship Game appearance was out of reach.
Even after the rules were amended and the Buckeyes were crowned champions, questions still loomed. How would the playoff committee view their schedule?
Evidently, playing in six games was enough for Ohio State to qualify for the playoff. Even though Swinney disagrees (quite openly at times), the Buckeyes will have their chance against the Tigers.
Justin Fields has been a phenomenal quarterback and has improved dramatically from last year. Through six games, he has completed 72.6 percent of his passes for 1,521 yards, five touchdowns, and five interceptions.
Despite playing through a thumb injury in his last game, both he and Day have said he will be ready for the 2021 Sugar Bowl.
He is not invincible, however, as Northwestern’s defense tripped him up in his last game. Fields only completed 44 percent of his passes for 114 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Fortunately, for Ohio State, Trey Sermon picked up the production on offense. In the Big Ten Championship Game, Sermon rushed for 331 yards, which was both a school record and a Big Ten Championship Game record. Sermon will get a lot of carries in the Sugar Bowl if Master Teague is still nursing the injury he suffered in the conference championship game.
On the offensive line Wyatt Davis, the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year, and First-Team All-American selection at guard.
The only other First-Team All-American selection from Ohio State is Shaun Wade. The cornerback was ejected for targeting in Ohio State’s last game against Clemson. Several players cited Wade’s targeting penalty as the turning point in the game. Wade will assuredly want another chance at Clemson.
The heartwarming story from Ohio State this year was Haskell Garrett. While intervening in a domestic dispute this summer, Garrett suffered a gunshot wound to the face. Not only did he recover and make his way back onto the field, but he also earned a Second-Team All-American selection at defensive tackle.
Fields is not the only quarterback in the 2021 Sugar Bowl surrounded by hype. Clemson’s quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been named a Heisman Trophy Semifinalist.
Through only nine games this season, Lawrence has completed 69.2 percent of his passes for 2,753 yards, 22 touchdowns, and four interceptions. Lawrence is looking to reach the National Championship Game for the third time in his three-year career. His only loss as a starter was at the hands of LSU in last season’s finale.
Lawrence was named to the All-American third team, but his backfield mate Travis Etienne was named First-Team as an all-purpose player. The senior running back has over 200 touches in 11 games, with 1,406 yards from scrimmage and 15 total touchdowns.
Lawrence’s favorite target is Amari Rodgers. The senior wideout has 69 receptions, 966 yards, and seven touchdowns.
Clemson always seems to have a solid defense line year after year. This season they don’t have anyone with national recognition, but they have depth. There are 21 players on Clemson’s defense with at least half a sack and 30 with at least half a tackle for a loss.
They also have plenty of playmakers on the back end. 10 Tigers have interceptions, with senior safety Nolan Turner leading the way with three.
There are a lot of seniors on Clemson’s team. Not only do they have talent and experience, but they have a legacy. They will not want to end their careers with a Sugar Bowl loss. They will want to end with a third straight National Championship Game appearance.