Things are heating up between Clemson and Ohio State leading up to the Sugar Bowl on Friday.
Dabo Swinney has taken his opportunities to share why he believes the Buckeyes shouldn’t be in the College Football Playoff. Ryan Day took a similar approach with a few subtle hints at Clemson stealing signs defensively.
It’s going to be a fun game, in other words. The Tigers are currently 7.5-point favorites, but this is clearly the more intriguing semifinal game on the slate. Does Ohio State actually have a shot to pull off the upset and get revenge from last season?
Well, ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit believes one player could be the key for the Buckeyes. His name? Running back Trey Sermon, the grad transfer from Oklahoma who arrived in Columbus prior to this season.
During a segment of “Herbie, Pollack and Negandhi” on Tuesday, Herbstreit shared why Sermon was his X-factor pick.
“I think the emergence of Trey Sermon over the last few games, especially in the Big Ten championship, is vitally important to Ohio State going up against Brent Venables,” Herbstreit said, via 247Sports. “Brent Venables, the defensive coordinator for Clemson, has great players but he’s very active. Gives you a lot of different looks, and if you’re a one-dimensional attack, it makes it really hard.
“Last year’s game, J.K. Dobbins, he went off. He had an ankle injury in that game, but before getting tweaked, he had so many big plays in that game and they threw the ball to him out of the backfield. And I think Trey Sermon has got to become that guy. He ran at a different level, a different acceleration with the lateral quicks that really we’ve seen all year.”
Sermon is a pretty easy choice, to be honest. In his last game, he posted 331 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries. That was good for an eye-popping 11.4 yards per carry. In the game before that, he rushed 112 yards and a touchdown on only 10 carries (11.2-yard average).
Justin Fields has not played his best football this season, but having a complementary run game could take some pressure off the junior quarterback.
At least it looks like 2021 will start off right.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.