|Monday, December 4, 2017, 9:22 AM- -|
Winning division championships are great, and there are times where the clinching games are not that close. We have seen this program win state championships in blowouts as well. However, winning conference championships are not supposed to be this easy.
Clemson won its third consecutive ACC title convincingly. This one was over very early. The 74,372 in attendance saw a game that was over early in the second quarter after Clemson went up 21-0 after its first three drives.
The Tigers dominated on both sides of the ball. The 38-3 victory over the seventh-ranked Hurricanes is the largest margin of victory by a Tiger team over a ranked opponent. The previous best was 34 and done twice — in 1950 Clemson beat Missouri 34-0, and in the 2015 Russell Athletic bowl 40-6 over Oklahoma.
Defensively, Clemson made Miami look overmatched from the opening snap. The Canes were held to 10 first downs, 104 yards rushing, 110 yards passing and a total of 214 yards. The Tigers front four put consistent pressure on Malik Rosier who finished 14 of 29 through the air for 110 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. I thought Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence played their best games of the season.
Offensively, Clemson was led by game MVP Kelly Bryant who went 23 of 29 for 252 yards and one touchdown through the air and added one rushing touchdown. Bryant completed his first 15 passes which set a new ACC Championship Game record for consecutive completions, besting Deshaun Watson’s 13 in 2015 versus North Carolina.
Ray Ray McCloud led the Tigers with six catches for 100 yards. Deon Cain’s 27-yard touchdown was the only passing touchdown of the night.
Field position was a big key to the victory. Clemson’s first two scoring drives were 68 and 71 yards, but the other scoring drives were 41 yards, 16 yards, 43 yards and 13 yards.
There was so much talk about turnovers heading into the game, but Clemson finished plus-two in turnover margin Saturday night.
Clemson also got Alex Spence some confidence. Spence made a 46-yard field goal in the third period. It was the longest made field goal of his career by 16 yards.
Clemson won its 17th ACC Championship, the most of any school in the conference. Florida State is next with 15. The Tigers have won a total of 23 conference titles dating to their stints in the SIAA and Southern Conference.
The was Clemson’s 11th straight win over a team ranked in the top 25 in either the AP, USA Today, or College Football Playoff polls. That is the longest streak in the nation and a Clemson record.
The Clemson senior class became the winningest senior class in program history as they notched their 50th win over Miami on Saturday. That class went 10-3 in 2014, 14-1 in 2015, 14-1 in 2016 and are 12-1 thus far in 2017. It also became the winningest class in ACC history as the first to rack up 50 wins.
This team is playing its best football and deserves the top ranking heading into their third straight playoff appearance.
Now we get the trilogy of Clemson-Alabama. Like the last two, this one could be another classic.
The Brad Hughes All-State Insurance Agency
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