Ohio State self-inflicted errors, not referees, cost Buckeyes trip to National Championship

Ryan Day, Ohio State Buckeyes. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Ryan Day, Ohio State Buckeyes. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

The Ohio State Buckeyes had too many mental lapses to prove victorious over the Clemson Tigers in the Fiesta Bowl. They cost them a national title trip.

Ohio State may want to blame the refs for their Fiesta Bowl loss but they should blame themselves for the plays they left on the field and the self-inflicted errors they made.

In a clash of unbeaten teams, the No. 3 Clemson Tigers did just enough to hold off the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl on Saturday night, 29-23. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence made many plays with his legs and just enough with his arms to head back to the national championship in his second season on campus. Ohio State leaves Glendale feeling empty.

While Clemson has to be excited about playing the LSU Tigers down in New Orleans, Ohio State shouldn’t look at this game in any other way other than one giant squandered opportunity. How can you expect to beat the reigning national champions on a neutral site when you can’t stop beating yourself? Too many mental mistakes are why Ohio State is the team going home tonight.

All year-long, sophomore quarterback, Justin Fields threw only one interception leading the Buckeyes offensive attack. Yet in the biggest game of his quarterbacking life, he threw two, including the game-sealer in the back of the Clemson end zone with less than a minute left on the clock.

But before any of that happened, there were too many other miscues that ultimately sank the Buckeyes ship in the Valley of the Sun on Saturday night. In the first half, the Buckeyes had 16 points, but only managed nine points in their three red-zone trips. Their only trip to pay dirt in the first half came on a 68-yard touchdown run from elusive running back J.K. Dobbins.

Two of Clemson’s four touchdowns on the evening came on drives that were extended by dumb Ohio State penalties. A Shaun Wade targeting call on a sack of Lawrence helped get Clemson on the board with a touchdown in the second quarter. A roughing the punter call deep in Clemson territory was another brutal penalty and one the Tigers would later strike pay dirt on.

There there was the whole not going for it thing by head coach Ryan Day late in the fourth quarter. Sure, punting wasn’t out of the question, but Day didn’t expect Lawrence and the Clemson offense to march down the field in four plays in what was the game-winning touchdown.

Overall, these persistent lapses in judgment made by an inexperienced playoff team led to Ohio State’s undoing.

Fields and Day will learn from this. Yes, Clemson is a good team, but Ohio State had every opportunity to knock off the reigning national champions and just couldn’t do it.

We just knew that Dabo Swinney‘s team would make the necessary adjustments at halftime to play their best football when it mattered most. A more disciplined Ohio State team would have won this game.

Don’t blame the refs for not playing in the National Championship when the Buckeyes defense had a chance to stop Lawrence and Fields and the offense still had time to score to win.

They had their chances. They didn’t make the most of them.

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