Justin Fields threw six touchdown passes to outshine Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State avenged last season’s painful loss in the college football playoffs to Clemson with a 49-28 victory in the semifinal of the Sugar Bowl.
The Buckeyes (7-0) head into the CFP title game for the first time since the opening tiebreaker for face Alabama on January 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in South Florida. Ohio State defeated Crimson Tide in the semifinals en route to the 2014 national championship.
In a Georgia prodigy quarterback showdown, Fields could have given the Jacksonville Jaguars something to think about what to do with that top pick in the NFL draft.
Lawrence is the presumptive No. 1, but Fields topped him, 22-of-28 for 385 yards. Set a record of Sugar Bowl on TD passes and did so playing more than half the game after being brutally shot to the side that forced him to miss a play and spend time in the med tent. Lawrence was 33 of 48 for 400 yards and three total touchdowns in what is expected to be the juniors’ last college game.
His last pass was intercepted, but Clemson (10-2) was 2-for-34 in his starts and won a national title as a rookie. The third meeting between Clemson and Ohio State in the playoffs, and the fourth bowl meeting since the 2013 season, was a game the Buckeyes had targeted since a 29-23 loss to the Tigers in the Fiesta Bowl last year. That score was everywhere the Buckeyes handed out at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus this year.
Fields threw touchdown passes to tight ends Luke Farrell and Jeremy Ruckert in back-to-back series to give Ohio State a 21-14 lead early in the second quarter.
The play was revised for a lack of guidance that resulted in the ejection of Clemson’s main linebacker and a first and goal for the Buckeyes.
Fields came out for a play and came back to immediately throw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Chris Olave that made it 28-14. He took another blow in a stir and got up slowly. After each play he moved cautiously, but with Trey Sermon running hard and the Buckeyes providing good protection, Fields continued to divide the Tigers.
He hit Ruckert for a 12-yard touchdown with 11 seconds left at the half.
One year after losing a 16-0 lead in the first half in last year’s excruciating semi-final loss to Clemson, the Buckeyes gave the Tigers their biggest halftime deficit (21) since the 2012 Orange Bowl against West Virginia (29 points).
The second half started with Clemson looking like he could have another comeback. Fields was intercepted in the Tigers’ end zone and Lawrence returned with an 80-yard touchdown to cut it to 35-21.
Fields threw a perfectly placed bomb to Olave for a 56-yard touchdown pass that made it 42-21 with 4:55 left in the third quarter.
And if there was any doubt Fields threw another TD pass that made Jameson Williams rain It officially went on the books as a 46 yards, but traveled more than 50 in the air.