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Last updated: 01/02/2014 2:02 PM
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Football
Rob's Buckeye Notebook
By Rob Ogden

Very few people have thrown much praise the way of Ohio State's secondary the past few months. But that's exactly what Clemson coach Dabo Swinney did repeatedly Thursday.

Swinney showered the struggling unit with compliments. He called Ohio State's defense "national championship-caliber."

Swinney specifically praised cornerback Bradley Roby, defensive end Noah Spence and linebacker Ryan Shazier.

Problem is, for the Buckeyes, two of those three players won't play Friday night when the Buckeyes and Tigers face off in the Orange Bowl.

Despite the Buckeyes' injuries and suspension in addition to its recent struggles, Swinney wouldn't admit his team has a decided advantage throwing the ball. In fact, he said there aren't many matchup advantages when playing a team like Ohio State.

"It's hard to see a lot of advantages when you look at a football team that's 24-1," he said.

"Okay, obviously, if you just look at the statistics, you'd say, 'Yeah, well, they've not had the type of year they want defensively in the passing game,' but a lot of it is people can't run the ball on them. Any success that people have had have been in the passing game, and most people have been behind. So they're having to throw the ball.

Clemson posses one of the elite passing games in the country, and the Buckeyes will be without their best pass rusher and best pass defender. But Swinney said he expects a fight.

"Ohio State is a lot bigger than one or two players, and that's why they're 24-1," he said. "That's almost unheard of, to be honest with you, in modern football, for them to have that success."

'78 Gator Bowl Big Part of Clemson History, Too

Say the word "Clemson" to any Ohio State fan, and likely one of the first thoughts that will come to mind will the 1978 Gator Bowl.

Woody Hayes' punch is an infamous moment in Ohio State football history. It hasn't been lost on the Clemson side, either.

"It's obviously been something, as we've come into this game, that has been brought up 1,001 times now," Swinney said.

That Dec. 29, 1978 game is the only time the two schools have met on the football field. It was the final game Hayes ever coached.

Thursday, Swinney joked about the incident.

"There's been a few times I'd loved to have run out there and punched a few guys myself, but I've never crossed that line," he said.

"I think it was just a moment of frustration where, for whatever reason, a great coach just kind of lost control, and it's unfortunate. It's not something that anybody's proud of. I don't think that that diminishes who he is as a coach."

Tebow as a Buckeye Assistant?

ESPN announced Monday that former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow has been hired by the network as an analyst for the SEC Network.

Tebow, the former Urban Meyer understudy, said Tuesday his goal is still to play quarterback in the NFL.

He was signed and cut by the New England Patriots earlier in 2013 after spending 2012 with the New York Jets.

Asked Thursday if he has ever had any talks with Tebow about the former Gator joining his Ohio State staff, Meyer said nothing "serious".

Meyer didn't dispute it as a possibility, but said for now, he wants Tebow to focus on his goal.

"I don't want to disrupt his dream," Meyer said. "His dream is to go play quarterback in the National Football League, and I don't think we're there yet that he's in his mindset that he's done. So nothing serious."

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