Clemson linebacker Boulware still stung by national title game loss

Clemson Tigers linebacker Ben Boulware doesn’t have a playoff beard. He calls it a lifestyle beard, meaning it’s not going away anytime soon.

“You’ve got to go through a lot of ugly phases,” Boulware said Tuesday in a press conference at the Camelback Inn. “You’ve got to be a man. But to fight it off and resist the razor. That’s about it. It’s definitely not a playoff beard. This has been here since January 12th and it’s December 27th. So that’s a long time.”

Facial hair or not, Boulware is a big reason No. 2 Clemson (12-1) earned a date with No. 3 Ohio State (11-1) in the Fiesta Bowl at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Tigers will seek to return to the national championship game for the second straight year with Boulware as the centerpiece of their defense. He leads the group with 114 tackles and was named a second-team All-American.

The Buckeyes have had a month to prepare for Boulware. They ought to know him well by now.

“He’s around the ball,” Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett said. “He’s just one of those playmakers, ball-seekers. I think he does a great job of deciphering plays, like what the offense is trying to do. He’s instinctive in that way.”

Clemson arrived in Phoenix on Monday and held their first practice Tuesday at Scottsdale Community College. Boulware said he doesn’t like Arizona but only because of the memories of the 45-40 loss to Alabama in the national championship game last season at Univeristy of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. The team will return to that stadium Saturday with a chance to bury the memory for good.

“It stuck with me for a while,” Boulware said. “After a while, I definitely became appreciative of what we’ve done. I know it’s so difficult to do it two years in a row, let alone one. Reflecting back on it now, and the past couple of months, it definitely allows you to appreciate that much more. Fourteen and one is a pretty dadgum good season. But obviously that one loss lingers and stands out. We’re definitely going to try to change that this year.”

The main lesson the Tigers learned last year, Boulware said, was to finish games.

“That’s kind of the only thing we’ve been preaching all year,” he said. “We played well for 14 games, and at the end of the day we didn’t finish. We got beat. That’s kind of been our motto all year: to finish in every aspect, in the film room, at practice, each game. We’re just treating every game like it’s the national championship, and hopefully when that time comes it will carry over.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

NBA star Russell Westbrook, wife Nina expecting twin girls
NBA star Russell Westbrook, wife Nina expecting twin girls

NBA star Russell Westbrook and his wife, Nina, announced Tuesday they are expecting twin girls in a YouTube video produced by the Oklahoma City Thunder. >> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news  The video is called "The Westbrook Family." Nina lets out the news they're having twins 2:12 into...
HS Results 9/18: Alter and Fenwick boys soccer tie 0-0

Boys Soccer Tuesday’s Results Alter 0, Fenwick 0 Beavercreek 3, Northmont 0 Bellbrook 1, Eaton 1 Butler 8, Greenville 1 Centerville 2, Springboro 0 Colerain 1, Oak Hills 1 Fairfield 1, Middletown 0 Fairmont 3, Miami Valley School 0 McNicholas 3, Badin 0 Miamisburg 3, Wayne 0 Middletown Madison 2, Carlisle 1 Milton-Union 4, Preble Shawnee 0 Monroe...
Buckeyes on the return of Urban Meyer to sideline: ‘He drives our culture’
Buckeyes on the return of Urban Meyer to sideline: ‘He drives our culture’

Life has returned to normal for the Ohio State Buckeyes in that they will play the remaining nine regular-season games with their head coach, Urban Meyer, on the sideline. His three-game suspension ended Saturday when Ohio State beat Texas Christian 40-28. The Buckeyes went 3-0 with Ryan Day serving as acting head coach and will run out of the tunnel...
Three area teams top regions in first OHSAA computer ratings
Three area teams top regions in first OHSAA computer ratings

Top-ranked Chaminade Julienne and Coldwater joined Bellbrook as the No. 1 teams in their respective regions of the first Ohio High School Athletic Association computer football ratings released on Tuesday. The ratings made their debut after Week 4 games. The Associated Press announced its first high school state football polls last week. CJ and Coldwater...
Cincinnati Bengals sign kicker Bullock to contract extension
Cincinnati Bengals sign kicker Bullock to contract extension

The Bengals on Tuesday rewarded kicker Randy Bullock for his reliability. The Bengals signed Bullock to two-year contract extension through the 2020 season. Bullock was in the final season of a two-year deal. »RELATED: Panthers’ offensive style presents challenges for Bengals Since joining the Bengals during the 2016 season, Bullock has...
More Stories