Buckeyes, Tigers guided by greats
scottsdale, ariz.» Coach Urban Meyer was giving the abridged version of the core values he has instilled in Ohio State football, the pillars upon which he has built the Buckeyes.
The power of the unit focuses on each position group. The demand for competitive excellence speaks for itself.
“You mean the game-day underwear, that’s not the key ingredient?” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney chimed in, sparking a smile from Meyer.
“I’m not saying I don’t wear them,” Meyer responded.
Swinney and Meyer shared the stage Friday for the teams’ final news conference before the Buckeyes (11-1, No. 3 CFP) and Tigers (12-1, No. 2 CFP) face off in the Fiesta Bowl.
The 52-year-old Meyer has a résumé few who have ever coached college football can match. No current coach with at least 10 seasons of experience has a better winning percentage than Meyer’s .854. He has won three national championships, including the first College Football Playoff title game two years ago.
At the beginning of this week in the Arizona desert, Swinney compared Meyer to Notre Dame legend Knute Rockne and joked about how he needed to quickly read Meyer’s book to gain some insight.
Swinney, 47, talked about Meyer with reverential deference, but he is on the shortlist of current coaches who can claim Meyer-like success. Clemson needed more work when Swinney took over during the 2008 season than Ohio State did when Meyer became the Buckeyes’ coach in 2012. But since 2011, Swinney is 68-14 (.829), including a victory against Ohio State in the 2014 Orange Bowl, one of only two postseason losses on Meyer’s record (10-2).
The only thing Swinney and Clemson have not accomplished during this terrific run, the greatest in the history of the program, is a national championship. Deshaun Watson and the Tigers came up just short last year against Alabama. Watson, the Heisman Trophy runner-up this season, was fabulous against the Crimson Tide and followed it up with another spectacular season (3,914 yards and 37 touchdowns passing).
Some things to know about Saturday’s national semifinal meeting of Ohio State and Clemson:
• Tailback Wayne Gallman has a Clemson-record 17 100-yard rushing games in his career — and the Tigers are 17-0 in those games.
• Redshirt freshman Mike Weber has 1,072 yards rushing for the Ohio State, but when games get tight the Buckeyes like to let QB J.T. Barrett carry the ball.
• Ohio State All-America H-back Curtis Samuel is the only player in the country with at least 800 yards receiving (822, on 65 catches) and 700 rushing (730). He has scored 15 touchdowns.