- Associated Press - Thursday, December 31, 2015

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Deshaun Watson turned in another stellar two-way performance, running for one touchdown, passing for another and accounting for 332 yards to lead top-ranked Clemson to a 37-17 victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Thursday.

Clemson (14-0), which earns a trip to the national championship game on Jan. 11, dominated the second half and shut down Oklahoma’s high-scoring offense, which had averaged 52 points over its last seven contests. The Sooners (11-2) actually entered the game as favorites, but the Tigers showed their perfect record was no fluke.

Until this season, the Tigers were known for such inexplicable disappointments that a term was coined for it — “Clemsoning.”

With one more win, they’ll be known as something else: National champions.
“How ‘bout them Tigers, baby?” coach Dabo Swinney screamed from the middle of the field. “It was an awesome second half. It’s been 34 years since Clemson played for a national championship. It won’t be much longer.”

Watson certainly lived up to the hype of being a Heisman Trophy finalist. He got off to a slow start, but completed 16 of 31 attempts for 187 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow that gave Clemson some breathing room late in the third quarter. Watson carried the running load early on, finishing with 145 yards on 24 carries and scoring the Tigers’ first touchdown on a five-yard run.

The game went back and forth through the first half, with the Sooners jumping ahead on an impressive first possession that culminated with Samaje Perine’s one-yard drive. Oklahoma went to the locker room with a 17-16 lead after Mark Andrews hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield with 1:34 remaining, and the Sooners’ defense had an interception in the end zone on an ill-advised throw by Watson into triple-coverage.

Clemson took the second-half kickoff and covered 75 yards in 12 plays to reclaim the lead on Wayne Gallman’s one-yard touchdown run. Oklahoma’s first possession was the exact opposite: Three consecutive negative plays forced the Sooners to punt, setting the tone for the struggles they would face the rest of the game.

Clemson, looking to become the first team in Bowl Subdivision history to finish 15-0, advanced to face either No. 2 seed Alabama or No. 3 seed Michigan State in the finale. Those teams met Thursday night in the Cotton Bowl.

“We’re not worried about who we play,” said outside linebacker Ben Boulware.
A Clemson defense that surrendered more than 30 points in its last two games sacked Mayfield five times and held the Sooners to 121 yards over the final two quarters.

Clemson piled up 550 yards, sealing the victory on Gallman’s four-yard touchdown run with 10:48 remaining.

For Oklahoma, it was a disappointing end to a comeback season. After going 8-5 a year ago, including a 40-6 loss to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl, coach Bob Stoops shook up his staff and guided the Sooners within two victories of their first national title since 2000.

“They played more physically than we did,” Stoops said.

Mayfield threw for 311 yards and was intercepted twice, the second of which ended his season.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide