Who plays in the Sugar Bowl this year? Teams, date, schedule for 2020 CFP semifinal game

Written By Billy Heyen
lawrence-fields-122020-getty-ftr
(SN/Getty)

The Sugar Bowl is back in New Orleans for its 87th annual iteration, although this one will be a bit different than all the rest.

For the less obvious reason, the Sugar Bowl is one of the College Football Playoff's national semifinal sites on Jan. 1, 2021, along with the location-shifted Rose Bowl. The usual SEC affiliation of the Sugar Bowl could've worked out with Alabama, but this game will instead feature No. 2 Clemson (10-1) against No. 3 Ohio State (6-0). Then, of course, there's the matter of 3,000 people spread out across the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

It should be a highly anticipated quarterback matchup between the Tigers and Buckeyes in New Orleans. Clemson's Trevor Lawrence is the likely No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and Ohio State's Justin Fields could be right behind him as high as No. 2. Both teams bring a second way to win, though, because Clemson running back Travis Etienne and Ohio State running back Trey Sermon are both dominant college players, too.

Here, you'll find the info you need to know about watching the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 2021, along with what to expect from the teams chosen by the CFP committee to play in the game. 

MORE: College Football Playoff isn't fair, but don't blame teams who made it

When is the Sugar Bowl 2021?

  • Date: Jan. 1
  • Time: 8:45 p.m. ET
  • TV broadcast: ESPN
  • Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana.

The 2021 Sugar Bowl is one of two bowl games serving as the national semifinals in the College Football Playoff, and it's the second to kick off on Friday, Jan. 1. The winner of this year's Sugar Bowl advances to the national championship game, where it'll face off with the winner of the Rose Bowl, which kicks off at 5 p.m. ET on Jan. 1.

Who plays in the Sugar Bowl 2021?

The 2021 Sugar Bowl will feature 2-seed Clemson and 3-seed Ohio State for the right to play in the national championship game. They'll play the winner of Alabama and Notre Dame.

What to know about Clemson vs. Ohio State

Dominant quarterbacks

Trevor Lawrence is regarded as the best player in college football, and he's lined up to be the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. In the meantime, he'll play either one or two more college games. 

Opposing him will be Justin Fields, who was regarded as the definite No. 2 QB in the draft heading into this season, although he's fallen on some boards to lower in the top-10 picks.

Both Lawrence and Fields' dominance shows up in their touchdown-to-interception ratios, which is 22:4 this season for Lawrence and 15:5 for Fields. A season ago, Fields threw 41 touchdowns compared to just three interceptions. 

Don't forget the running games

Clemson's Travis Etienne is the ACC's all-time leading rusher. He's been a dominant force since his freshman season, and he like Lawrence will be capping off his career in the playoff. 

Ohio State had a two-headed running attack for much of the season, but it was the Trey Sermon show in the Big Ten Championship. Sermon ran 29 times for 331 yards and two scores in the Buckeyes' win. 

Rematch season

These teams met in a national semifinal last season, too. Clemson won that game, 29-23, before losing to LSU in the national championship. 

The Tigers are 4-0 against OSU all-time, which also includes a 31-0 win in the 2016 national semifinal round.

Sugar Bowl odds

Clemson opened as a 6.5-point favorite over Ohio State, according to the William Hill sportsbook. 

Where is Sugar Bowl being played in 2021?

The Sugar Bowl is being played in its usual city of New Orleans, Louisiana, which first hosted the game in 1935. It was originally played at Tulane Stadium before being moved to the Superdome. 

There will be a limited number of fans allowed at the 2021 Sugar Bowl, with masks required at all times other than eating and drinking. The total fans allowed in will be 3,000. That's 3,000 more than the other semifinal, as the Rose Bowl won't have any fans.

New Year's Six Bowl schedule 2021

All of this year's New Year's Six Bowl games are televised on ESPN.

Date Bowl Matchup Time (ET)
Dec. 30 Cotton Bowl (6) Oklahoma vs. (7) Florida 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 1 Peach Bowl (8) Cincinnati vs. (9) Georgia 12:30 p.m.
Jan. 1 Rose Bowl (1) Alabama vs. (4) Notre Dame 5:00 p.m.
Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl (2) Clemson vs. (3) Ohio State 8:45 p.m.
Jan. 2 Fiesta Bowl (25) Oregon vs. (10) Iowa State 4:00 p.m.
Jan. 2 Orange Bowl (5) Texas A&M vs. (13) North Carolina 8:00 p.m.

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