NEW ORLEANS, La. — Clemson’s 125th season of college football came to a close on New Year’s Day as the second-ranked Tigers fell to Ohio State in the Allstate Sugar Bowl by a score of 49-28 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Saturday night. Clemson ended the season with a 10-2 mark overall, and reached a sixth-consecutive College Football Playoff.
The No. 3 Buckeyes took their first lead of the game with 10:35 remaining in the second quarter and never surrendered the advantage. With the loss, Clemson dropped to 6-4 all-time in College Football Playoff games.
Heisman Trophy finalist Trevor Lawrence fell to 34-2 for his career as Clemson’s starting quarterback while throwing for 400 yards on 33-for-48 passing in the losing effort.
Lawrence opened up a high-scoring first quarter on the first possession of the game with a two-yard rushing touchdown. The Buckeyes responded with a touchdown to even the score at seven apiece. Travis Etienne, in his last collegiate game, found the end zone on a three-yard rush, and in the process became the ACC’s all-time leading scorer (468) surpassing Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins’s record of 466 set from 2009-12.
Ohio State again brought the game to a deadlock on their ensuing drive and after a Clemson three-and-out took its first lead of the evening on a nine-play, 84-yard touchdown drive. Another two touchdowns capped off a run of 28 unanswered Ohio State points, resulting in a 35-14 halftime deficit for the Tigers. The Buckeyes’ run coincided with Clemson linebacker James Skalski’s ejection after a targeting call in the second quarter.
On the first possession of the second half, Mike Jones Jr. intercepted OSU quarterback Justin Fields in the Clemson end zone to give the Tigers a chance to recapture the momentum. Clemson capitalized on the turnover with a nine-play, 80-yard drive, culminating in a 10-yard touchdown pass from Lawrence to Cornell Powell.
The Tigers’ comeback effort was quickly thwarted when Fields connected on a 56-yard touchdown bomb with Chris Olave to extend the Buckeye lead to 42-21. Another long touchdown pass by Ohio State put the game out of reach. Lawrence found Powell for another touchdown, but the Buckeyes secured their first ever win over Clemson and advanced to the College Football Playoff National Championship.