Instant Analysis: Another Clemson Championship


by - Staff Writer -
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Christian Wilkins celebrates an early sack
Christian Wilkins celebrates an early sack

CHARLOTTE, NC – Another. Clemson. Championship.

For the third straight year, the ACC has run through Clemson, South Carolina, and with Saturday’s 38-3 win over No. 7 Miami in Bank of America Stadium the No. 1 Tigers claim their third consecutive ACC Championship and punch their ticket to the College Football Playoff.

This will be the 23rd conference championship and 17th ACC Championship for Clemson. It is the most conference championships by any member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Kelly Bryant just continues to get better and better and plays his best on the biggest stage. He completed his first 15 passes, surpassing Deshaun Watson’s ACC Championship Game record of 13. He also broke his personal best with 23 completions on the night. Bryant finished the game completing 23-of-29 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown. He also had nine carries for 7 yards and a score.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Several Clemson defenders contributed to Clemson’s stellar night, including Ryan Carter who had two forced turnovers and Kendall Joseph who had an interception, but Christian Wilkins was the man of the night. He had seven tackles, a half of sack, 1.5 tackles for loss and two pass breakups.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Fast start: Bryant and the Clemson offense got off to a fast start, scoring 21 first-quarter points, also tying an ACC Championship Game record held by Clemson from the 2011 and 2016 games against Virginia Tech.

Miami won the toss and elected to defer, but Bryant and the offense were ready to strike. The Tigers started at their own 32 and marched 68 yards in 10 plays. Twice on the drive, Bryant hit Hunter Renfrow for big gains and Travis Etienne capped the drive with a four-yard scoring run as Clemson led 7-0 early. The touchdown marked the eighth time this season the Tigers scored on the game’s opening drive.

Alex Spence gets to kick:The first-year starter didn’t have a field goal attempt last week in the win over South Carolina and had an extra point blocked, so Saturday could go a long way toward continuing to build his confidence. Spence was perfect on extra points and added a career-long 46-yard field goal.

Turnover chain? Miami likes to flaunt its turnover chain, but it was Clemson who won the turnover battle. Clemson fumbled the ball twice, but only lost one. Miami, on the other hand, had three turnovers – a fumble forced by Ryan Carter and recovered by Dorian O’Daniel, a Carter interception, and a Kendall Joseph interception.

STAT OF THE GAME: During the last two meetings between Miami and Clemson, the Tigers have outscored the Canes, 96-3.

UP NEXT: Clemson will most likely be the No. 1 team in the College Football Playoff when the rankings are released at noon Sunday. After finishing 12-1, the Tigers will most likely face either Ohio State or Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on January 1st in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

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