SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Ohio State coach Ryan Day and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney agreed about the things coaches always agree about before bowl games at their joint press conference Friday a day before their teams’ match-up in a College Football Playoff semifinal in the Fiesta Bowl tonight.
They both said their opponent was a great team which they respected greatly. They said the Fiesta Bowl is a great bowl and their players enjoyed their time in Arizona.
And they agreed on at least one other thing. Both coaches said their teams shouldn’t be bothered by pressure tonight because just getting to the College Football Playoff when one loss could keep you out of it requires dealing with pressure.
Asked if tonight’s semifinal feels like a national championship game, Swinney said, “It is a national championship game, because if you don’t win it, you aren’t going to the national championship. That’s just the way every game is, to be honest with you. We really take that approach every week. We feel like we’ve been in playoff football all year.”
Day pointed to Ohio State’s last three games before this one against Penn State, Michigan and then Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game as something which prepared the Buckeyes for playing Clemson.
“Once that Penn State game hit it was March Madness. Lose one game and you’re going home,” Day said.
But Day also said the past doesn’t matter if the topic is OSU’s 31-0 loss to Clemson in a playoff game after the 2016 season.
“There are a lot of things that lead up to a game like this, there is a lot of hype that comes into it, but what matters is how we play. We’ve had one heck of a year. This team has done a great job. Some of the things that have happened in the past have nothing to do with this team and coaching staff. We’re just focusing on doing everything we can to play a great game,” he said.
FIELDS’ HEALTH: Asked about the status of quarterback Justin Fields’ injured knee, Day said, “He’s doing great.”
Eight OSU players are listed as unavailable against Clemson because of injuries: Offensive guard Gavin Cupp, wide receivers Kamrynn Babb, Elijah Gardiner and C.J. Saunders, running back Marcus Crowley, defensive lineman Noah Donald, safety Ronnie Hickman and defensive tackle Taron Vincent.
WHITE TO RUTGERS: Former Ohio State safety Brendon White committed to transferring to Rutgers on Twitter on Friday.
White will have one year of eligibility left at Rutgers, which recently hired last year’s Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano as its head coach.
White, the son of former Lima Senior and Ohio State standout William White, had a big second half of the season last year when he totaled 45 tackles and was the Defensive MVP of the Rose Bowl.
But this year when OSU changed to a one-safety lineup on defense, he played much less. White had 19 tackles in 11 games and did not travel to Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship game.
EXPECTING SOME DEFENSE: Swinney says he thinks tonight’s game will have more defense in it than many people expect.
“I don’t think both teams will go out there and score 60 points. It’s probably going to be a big-time defensive battle,” he said.