Oklahoma Falls to Clemson in CFP Semifinal

Associated Press
By Associated Press
December 31 | Miami Gardens, Fla. | Capital One Orange Bowl
4 Oklahoma
1 Clemson

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 national semifinal game Thursday.

Clemson (14-0) shut down Oklahoma's prolific offense, which averaged 52 points over its previous seven games. The Sooners (11-2) passed for 311 yards, but were held to just 67 yards on the ground by the Tigers.

Watson got off to a slow start passing, but came back to complete 16-of-31 for 187 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown to Hunter Renfrow that gave Clemson some breathing room late in the third quarter. The Heisman finalist also ran for 145 yards on 24 carries, scoring the Tigers' first touchdown on a 5-yard run.

The game went back and forth through the first half, the Sooners jumping ahead on an impressive first possession that culminated with Samaje Perine's 1-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 came up with a pick in the end zone on an ill-advised throw by Watson into triple-coverage.

Clemson took the second-half kickoff and breezed down the field, covering 75 yards in 12 plays to reclaim the lead on Wayne Gallman's 1-yard run, the first of his two TDs. Oklahoma's first possession was the exact opposite: three straight yards-losing plays forced the Sooners to punt.

Clemson, looking to become the first team in FBS history to finish 15-0, advanced to face either second-ranked Alabama or third-ranked Michigan State in the Jan. 11 finale in Arizona.

The Tigers piled up 550 yards in the game, sealing the victory on Gallman's 4-yard touchdown run with 10:48 remaining.

For Oklahoma, it was an end to a comeback season. After going 8-5 a year ago, including a 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.

Mayfield threw for 311 yards and was intercepted twice, the second of which ended his season. Samaje Perine battled to remain on the field throughout the night and finished with 58 yards on 15 carries.