This outcome in the desert is a lot more heartwarming than last year’s bittersweet loss to Alabama, as Clemson dispatched of Ohio State 31 to 0 to earn another trip to the National Championship. This game was as close to a pick ‘em as they come, so seeing a blowout was surprising. This is also one of the worst games in Urban Meyer history, the first time Urban Meyer has ever been shut out, the first time in 23 years OSU has been shut out, and certainly the worst in his Ohio State tenure.

To describe this game in one sentence: Clemson was up 31-0 with five minutes left in the game and backup quarterback Nick Schuessler rushed for a 19-yard gain.

While a blowout prediction would have been unreasonable, there were subtle clues that hinted at a Clemson victory. When the two teams are some of the best in the nation and are evenly matched, the advantages are slim and execution is vital.

Mistakes were common for both teams early on, as Ohio State missed two field goals and Deshaun Watson threw two picks in the first quarter. A Deshaun Watson pick (because Mike Williams slipped) gave Ohio State an opportunity to score, but the field goal was missed. From then on, Clemson executed and Ohio State was pressured into making mistakes.

Ohio State’s offense was horrendous, and the only thing worse than their offense was the play calling to go along with the offense.

Ohio State had 215 yards of offense (88 rushing) but without a meaningless 64 yard Curtis Samuel run in the fourth quarter, those numbers plummet to 151 yards of total offense and 24 yards rushing. Mike Weber rushed five times for 24 yards and two fumbles. Samuel rushed six times for 67 yards (5 for 3 yards without the one run), and JT Barrett rushed 11 times for -2 yards (albeit offset by sack yardage).

Their passing offense didn’t fare much better with 127 yards in the air and a couple of pass interference penalties to boot. The Buckeyes were trying to stretch Clemson horizontally and beat them around the perimeter on offense, but Clemson has the athletes to render that strategy ineffective. When Ohio State tried to run inside, Clemson’s defensive line swallowed it whole or the ball carrier fumbled.

While Ohio State’s play calling was horrific, Clemson’s defense earned everything they took. With 11 tackles for loss, three sacks, five pass break ups, and two forced fumbles to go along with the total yardage statistics, the Tiger defense left a lasting impression on Ohio State and the entire nation.

Clemson’s offense was ready to take advantage of what the Clemson defense gave them. Clemson passed for 265 yards and rushed for 205 to tally a total of 470 total yards against what is a very stout Ohio State defense. Gallman and Watson again were the dynamic duo, as Gallman had 18 carries for 85 yards and Watson had 15 carries for 57 yards. In the passing game, Mike Williams hauled in six passes for 96 yards, while Renfrow, McCloud, and Fuller all made an impact in the passing game. Backup running back CJ Fuller had an impressive 30-yard touchdown catch on a wheel route a la the South Carolina game. Deshaun Watson looked much better than the unimpressive stat line of 23 for 36, 259 yards, with one touchdown and two picks.

Not one, but two national championship appearances and in consecutive years to boot. Not one, but two years of eight defensive starters leaving. Not one, but two Heisman finalist finishes for Deshaun Watson. Not one, but two “College Game Day” appearances in two years. Many great things in life come once, but not many great things come along twice. Enjoy the path, learn from your regrets the first time, and see you in Tampa!