The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, Jun. 3, 2023

Upon further review: Ohio St. vs. Clemson

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

The Monday Mailbag will return next week and in it’s place, here are some thoughts and observations from Ohio State’s loss to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.

These thoughts, in no particular order, may not be popular among Buckeye fans and of course you’re free to agree or disagree.


Yes, the second quarter targeting call on Shaun Wade changed the complexion of the game. There’s no doubt about that and Ohio State fans will argue forever that it wasn’t targeting. A case certainly can be made that way, but let’s face it – if a Clemson defender hit Justin Fields like that, we’d immediately scream targeting and ejection.

Personally, I don’t like the fact that a flag wasn’t thrown on the play, yet the replay booth decided to take a second look.

95 seconds, two scores

Trailing 16-0 late in the second quarter, Clemson scored two touchdowns in a 90 second span, with one of those scores being a 67 yard run by quarterback Trevor Lawrence, which felt like it could be timed with a sun dial.

The point is, that made it whole different ballgame at halftime.

Field goals, not touchdowns

A 16-0 lead seems nice until you realize even a touchdown puts Clemson right back in the game. Ohio State just couldn’t fully capitalize on red zone chances in the first half. In a game like the Fiesta Bowl, against the defending national champions, you need to seize every opportunity. The Buckeyes didn’t do that. It’s that plain and simple.

Scoop and score

I’m still scratching my head over the reversal of the third quarter scoop and score by Ohio State’s Jordan Fuller. It certainly looked like the Clemson receiver had control of the ball and took three or four steps before it was jarred loose, but apparently the replay crew didn’t see it that way.

The term “football move” was used during the discussion about the play. I’ve come to despise that term, because it means no one seems to know what a catch is or isn’t any more.

Either it’s a catch or it’s not and in this case, one can easily make the argument that it was a catch, fumble, recovery and score.


Ohio State had two, Clemson had none.

Yes, you can claim the scoop and score should have stood, but it didn’t. Ohio State still had two turnovers, including one that effectively ended the game.

Final drives

I have to admit, I liked Ohio State’s chances when Clemson started what turned out to be the game winning drive from their own six yard line. Like the rest of Ohio State fans, I watched in horror as the Tigers quickly covered the distance in four plays.

Yes, Ohio State responded by moving downfield quickly, but unlike Clemson, the Buckeyes didn’t finish the drive. Fields and Chris Olave weren’t on the same page and just like that, it was over.

Roughing the punter

I wasn’t a fan of Ohio State setting up for a punt block in the third quarter.

It made no sense. Even if a fair catch was called on the punt, the Buckeyes were likely going to have very good field position. Instead, OSU was flagged for roughing the punter (correct call) and Clemson not only retained possession but scored.

I know – if the punt was blocked, there’s a chance Ohio State would have recovered inside the five or even in the end zone for a touchdown. Ryan Day would have looked like a genius, but it didn’t happen that way.

The Buckeyes gambled when they didn’t have to and lost.

JK Dobbins

Obviously JK Dobbins was hurt and it showed. A healthy Dobbins could have been the difference in this one, especially down the stretch. Even while hobbled, he still put together an impressive game.

Yes, he had a touchdown catch that was reversed in the first half, but in my mind, the throw wasn’t exactly the best.


At times, Ohio State didn’t tackle well. Let me rephrase that – at key times in the game, especially late, Ohio State didn’t tackle well.

Own worst enemy

Looking back, the Buckeyes were their own worst enemy.

Yes, the officiating was questionable at times, especially the replay booth, but Ohio State didn’t lose because of the officiating. They lost because they made too many mistakes and didn’t make quite enough plays.

Ohio State vs. Clemson

The Buckeyes are now 0-4 all time against Clemson – 1978, 2013, 2016 and 2019. I’m really starting not to like the Tigers.

If you have thoughts on any of the above topics – agree or disagree – or about the game in general, feel free to email me at

POSTED: 12/30/19 at 5:01 am. FILED UNDER: Sports