COLUMBUS — Ohio State football coach Ryan Day said on Monday he expects quarterback Justin Fields to play in next week’s College Football Playoff championship game against Alabama, but offered no specifics about the injury OSU’s quarterback suffered during the second quarter of a 49-28 win over Clemson in a playoff semifinal last Friday night.
“I definitely expect him to play but we don’t get into specifics on injuries. We give our availability report at the end of the week and that’s always been our policy,” Day said on a Zoom call with media members.
Fields was injured at the end of a running play when Clemson linebacker James Skalski put his helmet into his rib area on his right side on a tackle.
Fields left the game for one play and freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud replaced him. He returned on the next play and threw a touchdown pass to Chris Olave, which gave Ohio State a 28-14 lead.
The Buckeyes’ lead never dropped below 14 points the rest of the game and Fields finished the game 22 of 28 passing for 385 yards and six touchdowns. Four of the touchdown passes came after the injury but the only two times he was credited with a rushing play after it were on sacks.
Some people questioned if Ohio State was aggressive enough in evaluating Fields’ injury. Day’s response was, “I leave all that stuff up to our medical people who are the best in the country.
“Justin is such a competitive guy. He wasn’t going to come off the field. That’s just the way he’s wired. You were going to have to pull him off the field. It was a pretty amazing performance. His comment to me the next day was he felt better waking up in the morning than he expected,” he said.
The win over Clemson was an emotional one because the Tigers eliminated OSU from the College Football Playoff last season.
Day expects the same level of intensity, maybe more, from the Buckeyes against Alabama.
“The goal was never just to beat Clemson, the goal was to win the national championship. While it was an emotional win, that wasn’t the goal. The goal was to win this one. I’d be disappointed if we didn’t play well in this game. This is everything on the line, everything we wanted,” Day said.
“So now all the focus goes on Alabama. The good news is I think we have a little confidence going into the game. We’ve shown what we can do and now we’ve got to go do it again.
“We said going into the last game that we were going to have to play our best game. Well, we’re going to have to play even better to beat Alabama,” he said.
Each participating team received 3,750 tickets for the championship game at Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the Miami Dolphins, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Ohio State’s players and coaches can purchase up to six tickets each. The rest will go to donors.
Alabama’s tickets will go to donors in its Tide Pride program who submitted applications in December. Those who have accumulated the most “Tide points,” for donating the most money for the longest time will have priority.
Sellers of tickets on the secondary market online are asking for $1,000 and more per ticket.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau