GLENDALE, Ariz.: The warning signs were there, merely masked by the euphoria of Ohio State qualifying for its second College Football Playoff in three years.
Senior kicker Tyler Durbin missing two field-goal attempts against Michigan.
The offensive line allowing 20 sacks since Oct. 22, third most in the Football Bowl Subdivision over that span, according to ESPN.
The erratic passing game in the previous two games, with quarterback J.T. Barrett throwing for 86 yards in the snow at Michigan State and 124 yards in a double-overtime triumph against the Wolverines.
The familiar, warm confines of the University of Phoenix Stadium and nearly a month of bowl prep presumably would change all that.
But Saturday night in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl against No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Ohio State faced the most talented team it had seen all season, if not two seasons, and came up lacking in nearly all phases.
The Tigers exposed OSU’s woes of October and November in claiming a 31-0 victory to earn a spot in the Jan. 9 championship game against Alabama.