Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clemson Dumps Oklahoma, Surges into National Title Game

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clemson Dumps Oklahoma, Surges into National Title Game

Article excerpt

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. * Dabo Swinney was in no mood to talk about "Clemsoning."

"Next question," the coach snapped.

No problem.

It's time to put that term to rest.

Clemson, a team once known for such inexplicable stumbles that a derisive term was coined for it, is headed to the national championship game with a still-perfect record after a 37-17 smackdown of Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Thursday.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson turned in another stellar all-around performance, beating the Sooners with his arm and his legs. The Tigers' defense did the rest, shutting down Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma's prolific offense even after losing star defensive end Shaq Lawson to a knee injury early in the game.

"It's been 34 years since Clemson had a chance to win a national championship," Swinney said. "I knew that we would be here. It was just a matter of when."

Clemson (14-0) 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 came into the game as favorites, but the Tigers showed their unblemished mark was no fluke.

"For some reason, we were the underdog in the playoffs," receiver Charone Peake said. "I was glad to see us come out and dominate."

Clemson, seeking to become the first team in FBS history to finish 15-0, advanced to face second-ranked Alabama in the Jan. 11 finale in Arizona.

Watson lived up to the hype of being a Heisman finalist, accounting for 332 yards and earning the offensive MVP award.

He got off to a slow start passing, but came back to complete 16- of-31 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 in the early going, finishing with 145 yards on 24 carries and scoring the Tigers' first touchdown on a 5-yard run. …

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