Archive for December, 2016

Ohio State vs. Clemson, Fiesta Bowl Playoff semifinal 2016: Tigers blow out Buckeyes to set up Alabama rematch

Posted by    |    December 31st, 2016 at 10:24 pm

For more on the Tigers’ big win, check out Land-Grant Holy Land and Shakin The Southland.

Also, head over here for the fully updated bowl season calendar as it fills in, from the New Orleans Bowl through the Rose Bowl. We’ll also add picks, scores, and more to that calendar over time.

The road to this Playoff matchup was many things, but clear wasn’t one of them until games finished on championship weekend. As the No. 1 team, Alabama was never going to be headed to the desert (the top team gets regional deference). But getting this matchup meant the committee had to sort through Clemson, Michigan, Ohio state, Penn State, and Washington to fill the remaining three spots in the Playoff four. There were certainly cases for each of those teams.

The 2016 Fiesta Bowl is one of the high-water marks in the bowl’s nearly 50-year history, as it will play host to one of the College Football Playoff’s two semifinals for the first time on New Year’s Eve.

The Fiesta Bowl has been around since 1971, and is both the youngest New Year’s Six bowl and the only one founded after the 1960s. But unlike its semifinal partner, the Peach — more or less a second-tier bowl for the whole of its existence — the Fiesta Bowl has been a prominent fixture of bowl season for the last two decades, participating in the Bowl Coalition and Bowl Alliance prior to becoming one of the four bowls featured in the Bowl Championship Series.

The Fiesta Bowl has decided national championships several times, beginning with the 1987 version that saw No. 2 Penn State upset No. 1 Miami for Joe Paterno’s second national title. It hosted the classic Boise State upset of Oklahoma in 2007. And the University of Phoenix Stadium that hosts the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale also saw No. 1 Alabama top No. 2 Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship this January.

The Fiesta Bowl’s decades-long tie-in to the Big 12 ended in 2014, as did Frito-Lay’s tenure as its named sponsor through the Tostitos tortilla chip brand. Now, when it isn’t hosting a semifinal between two of the top four teams in the country, the Fiesta Bowl pits two teams chosen by the Playoff’s selection committee against each other, and is now sponsored by PlayStation.

This 2016 Fiesta Bowl will actually be the second to go by that designation this year, after a January 2016 matchup between Ohio State and Notre Dame. This will be the second time in three years that the Fiesta Bowl has been played twice in the same calendar year.

Here is everything you need to know in preparation for this year’s second Fiesta Bowl:

Date and time: Dec. 31, 7 p.m. ET

TV channel: ESPN

Location: Glendale, Ariz.

Stadium: University of Phoenix Stadium

Last year’s score: Ohio State 44, Notre Dame 28

Last year’s attendance: 71,123

Last year’s payout for each school: $24 million

Teams with the most all-time appearances: Ohio State, 7

Teams with the most all-time wins: Penn State, 6

Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 in Big Ten)

Ohio State entered 2016 expecting to be in a rebuilding year, given that the Buckeyes returned an FBS-low six starters from last season. However, OSU proved that this was no rebuilding year after going into Norman during Week 3 and beating the Sooners, 45-24, proving that the Bucks are for real. Ohio State then won its next three games. Including a 30-23 overtime victory on the road against WIsconsin.

However, OSU’s hope for an undefeated season came to an end with a 24-21 road loss to Penn State, on a last-second Nittany Lions field goal. The Bucks would rebound with four straight wins, including a 59-0 victory over No. 10 Nebraska. That set up a showdown between Michigan to end the regular season, one which the Bucks won, 30-27, in overtime. Unfortunately, that loss to Penn State proved to hurt the Buckeyes in the Big Ten East, sending the Nittany Lions to the Big Ten Championship. Michigan’s upset loss to Iowa left the Wolverines sitting at home on Championship Saturday, as well.

Statistically, the Buckeyes have been impressive all season long in a lot of different areas. The defense, for instance, only allowed 14 points per game, ranking inside the top five in the country according to S&P+. On offense, the Bucks rank inside the top 3 in the nation in Rushing S&P+, too. Mike Weber leads the way with 1,072 yards and nine touchdowns. Quarterback J.T. Barrett isn’t too far behind with 969 yards and nine TDs, as well.

Ohio State made its case clear for the Playoff selection committee with what it did all season. Returning just six starters and winning 11 games is no easy task, but Urban Meyer sure made it look that way in 2016.

Clemson (12-1, 7-1 in ACC)

Meet your 2016 ACC champions, just the same as last year’s.

Clemson entered 2016 ready to avenge the 45-40 loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship. The Tigers got past close calls from both Auburn and Troy in the first couple of weeks, then faced a huge test on Oct. 1 against No. 3 Louisville.

The Cardinals hung tough throughout, but Clemson eventually pulled out a 42-36 victory. The Tigers had two more close calls against NC State and Florida State, needing overtime to beat the Wolfpack and winning by a field goal on the road against Florida State. Then, on Nov. 12, Pitt ruined the Tigers’ chances of an undefeated season, beating Clemson, 43-42, on a last-second field goal.

Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson regressed somewhat from his 2015 season — but it’s really not that much of a drop-off. By the end of the regular season, he had thrown more interceptions (14) as he did all year in 2015 (13). He also threw for nearly 500 yards fewer. Still, the Tigers have an elite defense, ranking near the top of the country both overall and against the pass.

Even with the loss to Pitt, the Tigers took care of business and beat Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship in Orlando to get back to the College Football Playoff. The real question is if they can get a rematch with Alabama and avenge the loss from last season.

Clemson star LB after beating Ohio State: ‘Who won Alabama-Washington?’

Posted by    |    December 31st, 2016 at 10:05 pm

Ben Boulware sounded like he didn’t know.

In the closing seconds of Clemson’s unholy destruction of Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl Playoff semifinal, Tigers linebacker Ben Boulware had a question.

Ben Boulware had no idea who won the Bama-Washington game, so he asked the bench

— Jack McGuire (@TailgateHeisman) January 1, 2017

“Who won that game?” Boulware asked teammates, as ESPN’s microphones picked him up. “Who won Alabama-Washington? Who won the game?”

Told by a teammate that Alabama had won — which Alabama most certainly did — Boulware followed up, “What’s the score?” (It was 24-7, Tide.)

My first thought upon hearing Boulware was that he was being dramatic for either his teammates or the camera, but who knows? The Peach Bowl didn’t end until 6:32 p.m. ET, and the Fiesta Bowl started at 8:10 p.m. Boulware might have been well into his pregame routine by the time the other game ended. There are stranger things than him not having figured out whom he’d be facing until the end of his own game.

If Boulware really didn’t know, that’s a credit to everyone on Clemson’s support staff, who must’ve been really focused on the task at hand. That was executed well, seeing as Clemson won the game, 31-0, and dominated Ohio State in every conceivable way.

Wanna make fun of Ohio State’s blowout Fiesta Bowl loss? Here are some memes

Posted by    |    December 31st, 2016 at 9:21 pm

Order whatever you want. It’s all free.

Clemson put a world-class hurting on Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, punching a National Championship ticket and eliminating the Buckeyes.

Some people are fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes, including a handful of our colleagues and friends here at SB Nation. If you’re not a fan of Ohio State and you have a Twitter account, you’re maybe looking right now for ways to joke about this football game.

If you are, our staff has taken the liberty of giving you some toys. Feel free to save any of these images and use them as your own, in your tweets, GroupMe messages, or whichever medium most suits you. Happy New Year. Meme responsibly.


— SB✯Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) January 1, 2017


— SB✯Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) January 1, 2017


— SB✯Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) January 1, 2017

4. Ohio State hasn’t scored any points yet.

— SB✯Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) January 1, 2017

Hurricanes sign their equipment manager as an emergency backup goalie

Posted by    |    December 31st, 2016 at 8:17 pm

Jorge Alves even made an awesome mask for the game!

The Carolina Hurricanes went in-house to solve a goalie dilemma on New Year’s Eve.

With regular backup Eddie Lack feeling ill on Saturday, the Hurricanes needed to find a replacement to backup starter Cam Ward against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Trying to get a call-up done late in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve is next to impossible, so they turned to their 37-year-old equipment manager.

Jorge Alves signs his professional tryout contract to serve as the #Canes back-up goaltender tonight. #CARvsTBL

— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) December 31, 2016

Second page of the PTO for Jorge Alves, with his player information. Jorge played club hockey for @NCStateHockey. #statement @NCState

— Mike Sundheim (@MikeSundheim) December 31, 2016

First of all, how nice that you can sign contracts on iPhones now! Super convenient. And Alves is pretty experienced at the position: he played for N.C. State in 2002-03 and played in the ECHL for a few years before becoming the Hurricanes’ equipment manager. He probably thought his NHL dreams were over.

Jorge Alves leads the #Canes onto the ice. #CARvsTBL

— Michael Smith (@MSmithCanes) December 31, 2016

Nope! But the best part of this story is his mask, which he had custom-made just for this occasion.

The mask Jorge Alves will wear tonight features his fellow equipment managers. Erik Huffine drew caricatures. Jorge painted it himself.

— Mike Sundheim (@MikeSundheim) December 31, 2016

Goalie, equipment guru and artist. Jorge Alves is a gem. And now he might play on Saturday. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have other duties to perform.

All you need to know about Jorge Alves. The man is doing two jobs tonight. @NHLCanes

— Mike Maniscalco (@mikemaniscalco) January 1, 2017


Posted by    |    December 31st, 2016 at 7:19 pm

Clemson punter Andy Teasdall sculpts a masterpiece with his right foot.

It’s the Fiesta Bowl semifinal in the College Football Playoff. It’s Clemson, and it’s Ohio State. Two great teams are fighting for a national title game berth. Any small edge helps, so this 67-yard Michelangelo of a punt will really aid Clemson’s case.


The artist of this beauty is Clemson’s veteran punter, Andy Teasdall. Clemson was at its own 20-yard line, and Teasdall rolled out and punted the ball to about Ohio State’s 36-yard line.

Ohio State returner Curtis Samuel didn’t field it, and the ball Clemson-bounced all the way to the Buckeyes’ 13. It bounced about 23 yards. That’s a 67-yard punt in total, flipping the field and giving Clemson a nifty little advantage.

That’s gorgeous, Andy Teasdall. You should be proud of your work. It comes on a remarkable day for Playoff punting, after Washington booted three wondrous punts in a futile effort against Alabama at the Peach Bowl.