Clemson Runs Over Oklahoma to Advance to National Title Game
No. 1 Clemson’s undefeated season continued as the Tigers locked up a spot in the national championship game with a 37-17 win over No. 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. Heisman runner-up Deshaun Watson accounted for 332 total yards and two touchdowns while Clemson rolled up a school bowl record 312 rushing yards. Watson (145 yards) and running back Wayne Gallman (150) are just the third duo in Orange Bowl history to each top the 100-yard mark.
While Clemson was running successfully, the Sooners were never able to get their ground game untracked. In its last seven games, Oklahoma had been averaging over 300 yards per game on the ground. But Clemson’s defense kept the Sooners bottled up all night, knocking both Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon out of the game at various points, and holding OU to just 67 rushing yards.
After Clemson’s All-American defensive end Shaq Lawson was sidelined on the first series with a knee injury, ends Kevin Dodd and true freshman Austin Bryant stepped up in a big way, racking up 1 ½ sacks and 4 ½ tackles for loss. Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 311 yards but never really found a groove and was picked off twice.
Oklahoma led at halftime, 17-16. But Clemson’s stifling defense and pounding run game took over the second half and rolled off 21 unanswered points. With the win, the Tigers are still in a position to become the first 15-0 team in college football history and win the school’s first national title since 1981.