After Ohio State walloped Clemson 49-28 in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Friday, Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said it was clear the better team won. Yet, that wouldn’t change Swinney’s see any problems on where he positioned the Buckeyes on his ballot in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
Swinney took analysis for positioning Ohio State 11th entering the playoff, a decision he said he made only because of the Buckeyes’ playing only six games, and he said after Friday’s misfortune that he questions that gave a lot of inspiration.
“I don’t regret any of that, and polls have nothing to do with motivation,” Swinney said. “Both teams were highly motivated to play.”
Swinney emphasized that his positioning was not intended to reduce Ohio State’s ability, yet rather a decision not to place any team with less than nine games in his top 10.
After the game, Ohio State coach Ryan Day said his team was highly motivated to play, partially in view of the positioning, yet more so due to the memories of its playoff misfortune to Clemson a year ago.
“I don’t know if we’re more excited about a chance to play for a national championship,” Day said, “or avenging that loss.”
Day said he had no worries about Swinney’s positioning, and that after Friday’s down, the Clemson coach advised him to “go out and win it all.”
Swinney minimized any notion that Ohio State had added inspiration to win, saying his team was prepared and focused, however essentially didn’t execute well against a skilled Buckeyes squad.
“They’re a great team,” Swinney said. “[The ranking] had nothing to do with Ohio State. I said they were good enough to beat us, good enough to win the whole dang thing. But I didn’t think anybody that didn’t play at least nine games, in my poll, that I wasn’t going to put them in the top 10. So I wasn’t going to change that just because there was a chance we could play them. So I don’t have any regret about that. Only thing I regret is obviously not doing a good enough job getting my team ready. But I don’t regret anything about that at all.”
A higher positioning by Swinney absolutely wouldn’t have changed the result, Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert stated, yet it helped make Friday’s dominant performance a little sweeter.
“Anything motivates you, whether it’s what they say or what we say,” Ruckert said. “This is the biggest stage in college football. If that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what you’re doing here. We definitely heard what he was saying and used it as motivation, but the stage, the platform of the playoff and the chance to go move on, that’s motivation in itself. Now we just have to keep that energy going.”