A Divine Comedy – A Three Part Epic of the Ohio State-Clemson Rivalry

“…I think and judge it for the best

Thou follow me, and I will be thy guide, And lead thee hence through the eternal place, Where thou shalt (hear) the desperate lamentations, Shalt see the ancient spirits disconsolate, Who cry out each one for the second death… Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”

Dante, Inferno (1320)

Part 1 – Inferno

December 7th, 2013 – Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Defensive issues have plagued Ohio State all year long. However, they have made their way into the Big Ten Championship with a perfect record. They are one win away from a chance to play for their first National Title in a long time.

Michigan State has possession and leads 27-24 with 3 minutes to go. If the Silver Bullets can make a play, Braxton Miller can lead the team into the Promised Land.

Jeremy Lankford explodes through the line of scrimmage. A 25 yard touchdown run. The Spartans have shocked the Buckeyes and won the Big Ten Championship. A photo goes viral of the colossal Urban Frank Meyer, wallowing in the regret of his first loss at Ohio State. Now relegated to ingesting filth in the bowels of a massive hippodrome as the clock strikes midnight.

As the Spartans celebrate wildly, Ohio State and their fans have been stunned. Surreal.

The next day, still numb, It is announced that #7 Ohio State will take on #12 Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

January 3rd, 2014 – Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida.

In a back and forth game, the Buckeyes have forced a Clemson punt. OSU leads diligently 29-20 in the middle of the 3rd quarter. They have finally taken control. With a chance to partially exorcise a demon, the punt is muffed. By Philly Brown.

Ohio State’s achilles heel the entire season has been their secondary. Sammy Watkins finishes the game with 16 receptions for 227 yards and 2 touchdowns. Clemson has won 40-35.

“It’s going to sting for a while, probably a long while because we didn’t finish,” Urban Meyer lamented in the post game. “It was right there.”

How long will it sting, coach?

Part 2 – Purtagio

New Years Eve 2016 – University of Phoenix Stadium, National Semifinal, Glendale, Arizona

Offensive issues have plagued Ohio State all year long. JT Barrett has played below average, but Swiss-Army knife Curtis Samuel was one of few bright spots.

However, the Bucks have made their way into the National Semifinal Game to take on Deshaun Watson and the Clemson Tigers once again. An opportunity to cleanse their souls. For the Buckeyes.

Unfortunately, the baptism did not go as planned. Ohio State was shut out for the first time since 1993. On the big stage. Clemson had 11 tackles for loss, three sacks and two interceptions; they surrendered a shocking 104 yards as a unit.

Leading 24-0, Watson mimicked honorary Buckeye LeBron James with a “silencer” touchdown celebration in front of the Ohio State support section.

Final score: thirty. To zero.

Clemson has gone on to defeat Alabama and win the National Championship.

December 28th, 2019 – National Semifinal Game, Glendale, Arizona.

Ohio State leads 16-0 late in the first half.

Shaun Wade blitzes like a freight train off the edge.

He destroys Trevor Lawrence to make it fourth and long.

There is a brief delay as Lawrence writhes in pain.

The play is taken to review.

Memories that make you physically ill. Thoughts of that heartbreaking moment makes one need Pepcid AC or better yet, a sturdy glass Jack Daniels and Coca-cola.

Jordan Fuller, one of the most intelligent and kind-hearted players to wear Scarlet and Gray, scoops up a fumble. He glides into the end-zone making the play of his life. Epic. Soul cleansing.

The play is taken to review.

For the second time, a review stings the Buckeyes and Buckeye Nation.

After huge shifts of momentum, Dabo’s boys have life, but the Buckeyes are still fighting. Chris Olave scores a huge touchdown, but Travis Etienne is too much for the Silver Bullets.

Finally, Justin Fields stands incredulous with his hands on his helmet. His dream season has ended in a nightmare. With a chance to rewrite history, his pass sailed through desert sky and lights into the unassuming arms of Clemson’s Nolan Turner.


Part 3 – Paradisio

December 19th, 2020- Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Once again, Ohio State’s dreams hang in the balance. Trailing 10-7 to upstart Northwestern, Justin Fields is intercepted miraculously by freshman sensation Brandon Joseph. The Buckeyes head into the locker room trailing for the first time in the bizarre 2020 season.

Despite initially not having a season, then having three games cancelled, multiple key players unavailable, the Scarlet and Gray have the ball again. Driving. Justin Fields is…wait for it…intercepted. This time in an ugly fashion.

The defense responds,specifically sixth-year senior Justin Hilliard. And so does the offensive line. And so does graduate transfer Trey Sermon. Ohio State has won the Big Ten Championship. Trey Sermon finishes with 330 yards rushing, a new record for most rushing yards in a game in all of Buckeye lore.

December 20th, 2020- Woody Hayes Athletic Complex, Columbus, Ohio

All Eyez On Me. I’m the TV.

Clemson has been chosen as the number two team in the College Football Playoff rankings.

All Eyez On Me. I’m the TV.

Ohio State has been selected as the number three team in the College Football rankings.

A silence.

No celebration.

Only a chance.

To make it to paradise one must walk through Hell and hear the moans of anguish and terror. One must see the wretched souls, mangled and tormented.

December 21st, 2020- Columbus, Ohio

A video leaks.

No, it doesn’t have anything to do with Kardashians, but it’s not good.

Why Demario?

“I don’t care if it’s against Clemson, against Bama, or against Notre Dame we’re gonna beat their ass., I promise you,” Day said. Just give us that one chance.You are two games away from playing in the national (expletive) championship.

December 21st, 2020- Clemson, South Carolina

Dabo did what?!

No, Dabo did not.

Yes, he did.

Dabo ranks Ohio State as the 11th best team in the country in the final regular season AP poll.

January 1st, 2021- The Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

The Clemson Tiger Football Team has exited the locker room. They march. Once more taking the field of battle. In a mostly and ghostly empty stadium, a scarlet spirit bears a sign. Staring. Into an Orange abyss.

“Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here.”

As OSU is in the home of fellow Buckeye Michael Thomas, their walk is different, their swag is different, but it’s a feeling reminiscent of 2014, when it was –”Ohio Against the World.”

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