Buck­eyes, Tigers guided by greats

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Ralph D. Russo

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.

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