Clemson wins. No, Clemson wins big. CLEMSON WINS BY 20.
Number one team in the nation was doubted by the majority of pundits, Vegas, and a lot of media folks. Oklahoma is still considered college football royalty and Clemson as aberration riding a good QB. We proved them all wrong tonight.
This team showed, and I mean the entire team, that is was complete and superior in every way to Oklahoma. We beat Oklahoma up on the offensive line. Let me repeat that--Clemson's offensive line was dominant. Congrats Coach Dabo Swinney on a great year and another Orange Bowl victory. Congrats Coach Venables on another victory over the team and fanbase that didn't mind you leaving (man I love me some Venables--never leave...).
If you told me we would lose Shaq Lawson in the second drive (really most of the first defensive possession), I would have told you we would probably lose. Austin Bryant deserves a ton of credit. Umm...#WETOODEEP?? Clemson's crowd was amazing and provided a home environment. Clemson travels...
Ok lets break down one of the best wins in Clemson history. Yeah, I can't believe I just wrote that either...
Let us start with the fake punt. Gutsy call by Dabo. Changed momentum. Good pass from Andy T and an amazing catch from the WAR DADDY Christian Wilkins who then tiptoed down the sideline. Redemption Song for Andy, which is an amazing subplot itself.
Greg Huegel doesn't miss an extra point. Huegel hits every field goal he is supposed to and most importantly--Greg the Leg adds 10-15 yards to his kickoffs and puts most of them through the endzone!! Amazing.
Clemson also got pressure and forced the Oklahoma punter into a complete shank, essentially giving us 3 points early that we really needed.
Shaq goes down and Bryant had himself a game. Very good effort that makes me feel much better about next year. He held his own against the run and got pressure at times. Dodd also stepped up and deserves a ton of credit both in the run and the pass.
We owned the line of scrimmage. We hit Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine hard and consistently. They got warn down and eventually injured. We didn't allow them any explosive plays--something they excelled at in the second half of the season. The first Oklahoma drive the Oklahoma defensive line had us on our heels but after that we were able to control the line.
Mayfield played very well and I thought they should have thrown more in the 3rd quarter. Oklahoma was able to get some matchups against LBs and Safeties. They really used their TE effectively. Jayron Kearse, again, really struggled with some assignments and open field tackling (however when Van Smith was inserted he promptly blew an obvious coverage of the TE for a TD). Carter was able to hang in there and played some quality minutes. We rolled Blanks and Carter at the Nickel until we started going with a three man front, inserting Jadar Johnson and playing more Dime with Kearse spying Mayfield. Really good design by Venables (only criticism is the porous defense right before the end of the first half--yet again--I was very glad Mayfield didn't have those final 2-3 minutes to try and carve us up).
Alexander has another amazing game. Tankersley got picked on a bit but was solid. Mark Fields came in and played well. I know people wanted a pass interference on Tank but there was an awful early PI call on Carter from an uncatchable ball. Carter had a bit of an arm bar but that was very suspect.
Speaking of referees--a penalty for sideline interference?? Thats unheard of and just a really horrible call (its usually when a ref wants to get back at a coach or establish control or something--just ridiculous in the 1st half). Glad the refs let the players play in the later stages of the game.
I have to give a ton of credit BJ Goodson and Ben Boulware. These guys have never been good in coverage all season and they came up with two huge interceptions. Both were tipped and difficult catches. Boulware basically one handed the ball and knocked Mayfield out of the game. He sealed the victory. Must have felt good after all the chirping all week long. What a mustache, what a play--thank you Kevin Steele for leaving and Venables for recruiting the one and only Junkyard Dog Ben Boulware.
All aboard the #WayneTrain.
Wayne Gallman ran like a man on a mission. Violent. Explosive. Always pushing the pile and driving forward. He showed exceptional vision and knew when to redirect and bounce the ball outside. Superior performance that took the load off of Deshaun Watson.
In the first half I felt like we missed opportunities in the redzone. We went away from Gallman and the run on two drives and then got too cute on another with some trick plays that weren't needed. Deshaun was off in the first half a bit. He missed about 3-4 throws early. Just airmailed them. Leggett missed a big third down conversion and Peake had a screen go through his hands on the perfect call against the blitz. We definitely missed Cain, no doubt about it.
However, Scott stepped up and looked to be healed from the meniscus injury. Hunter Renfrow showed up in one of the more important plays of the game. Walk-on power. Great to see him return to form and come up big after struggling with some fumbles late in the season. Deshaun didn't play his best game passing the ball and looked to be laboring a bit at the end of the second half after some hard hits on running plays. I thought he might have tweaked the knee for a minute. Watson shouldn't have thrown that ball into traffic for the interception at the end of the first half.
But Watson doesn't rattle. No turnovers in the second half. Clemson marched down the field on multiple methodical drives that wore out the Oklahoma defensive front that really needed DT Charles Walker. They also lost one of their starting LBs early that helped out running game. Ultimately our offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage despite some plays from Tapper and Striker occasionally flashing his athleticism.
Happy New Year everyone! It is great to be a Tiger.