Tigers' defense keys rout of OSU, sets up Alabama rematch

Clemson turned in a dominant defensive performance in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, earning a shutout of Ohio State, 31-0 in a College Football Playoff semifinal. The Tigers will face Alabama in a rematch of last year's CFP Championship Game on Jan. 9 in Tampa at Raymond James Stadium.

The Crimson Tide dispatched Washington Saturday in the other CFP semifinal, 24-7, at the Peach Bowl.

"You've got to watch what you wish for," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, a former Alabama wide receiver, told ESPN of the rematch. "We're excited. This is how we ended last year, Clemson-Alabama, and it's how we're ending this year."

Led by a four-man line of DEs Christian Wilkins and Clelin Ferrell, and DT's Dexter Lawrence and Carlos Watkins, the Clemson defense overwhelmed the Buckeyes offensive line and held OSU to 208 total yards. Ferrell was named defensive MVP of the game, recording a sack among three tackles for loss.

It marked the first time an Urban Meyer-coached team had been shut out. The Buckeyes' rushing attack was completely stifled until RB Curtis Samuel broke a 64-yard run in the fourth quarter, but by that time, the game was in hand at 31-0. Other than Samuel's run, OSU rushed for just 17 yards on 21 carries. Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett found himself under heavy pressure and finished 19 of 33 for just 127 yards and a pair of interceptions.

With help from solid performances from RB Wayne Gallman and WR Mike Williams, Watson overcame two interceptions of his own, and finished 23 of 36 for 259 yards, a passing touchdown and two rushing touchdowns.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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