Etienne scores three times as Clemson beats Ohio State

Dabo Swinney

Enlarge Image Dabo Swinney AP

After trailing at halftime for the first time in 15 months, No. 3 Clemson fought back over the final 30 minutes to edge No. 2 Ohio State 29-23 in a thrilling Fiesta Bowl semifinal and advance to the College Football Playoff National Championship on January 13 in New Orleans. They were being dominated early up front and Ohio State looked like the more physical team.

Lawrence tossed a short pass to running back Travis Etienne that went for a 53-yard touchdown in the third quarter to give Clemson a 21-16 lead to set up a fourth-quarter showdown.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith spoke for all of them - an no doubt countless Buckeye fans - when he told Yahoo's Pete Thamel via text just how ticked off he was.

On Haubeil's first field goal, Ohio State drove 71 yards but couldn't put the ball into the end zone.

Lawrence had 107 yards and one score on 16 carries. It was a by-the-books call, though it was clear Wade didn't have head-hunting intent: He simply hit Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence head-to-head, partly because the latter ducked into the hit at the last second. Clemson defeated Texas A&M, 24-10, after the Aggies scored a late touchdown to make it a two-score game.

This was absolutely what we thought it was going to be. It will face No. 1 LSU, which opens as a 3.5-point favorite in the CFP National Championship.

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"You talk about a change of events, when they threw Shaun out of the game", Day said.

Minutes later J.K. Dobbins ran 68-yards for the Bucks first touchdown. The Buckeyes' offense managed 70 yards in the third quarter, but there were more controversial calls that got in the way.

As ESPN's officials analysis pointed out, though it looked on slow motion like Ross had the ball and took a few steps with it, in real-time, Ross never appeared to have control or do a football move with the ball, which explains why it was overturned.

Clemson will challenge LSU for the first time since the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl.

It was no secret to Meyer, who won two national championships at Florida and one at Ohio State, that the Buckeyes needed to continue to evolve into a team that might play in the Big Ten Conference but more resemble a Southern program in the way it was built.

Ohio State quaterback Justin Fields dives for yardage as Clemson safety K'Von Wallace closes in during the Playstation Fiesta Bowl semi - final game at State Farm stadium Saturday.

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