Sometimes it’s hard to get back up after getting popped right in the mouth, and that’s exactly what Oklahoma experienced on New Year’s Eve as they were beat 37-17 by Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
Not only did Clemson leave Miami with a National Championship game on the horizon, but they also left knowing they completely manhandled the Sooners for the second straight postseason. The Tigers were relentless with their run-game, and rushed for a whopping 313 yards while controlling the game and time of possession.
Whether it was Heisman contending quarterback DeShaun Watson, or All-ACC running back Wayne Gallman, the Tigers had absolutely no problem moving the ball on Thursday. Watson totaled 145 yards and a touchdown on the ground while Gallman added 150 rushing yards and two more scores as they took advantage of an OU defensive front that was without lineman Charles Walker and second leading tackler Jordan Evans.
Clemson had the perfect game plan dialed up from its first possession, as the offensive line was moving the line of scrimmage with ease on most every play throughout the game. Watson would take the snap out of shotgun, analyze the defense, then either hand the ball off to Gallman or run it himself.
Most Sooner fans knew what Watson was capable of, but Gallman’s brute strength was one of the key differences in this game. Gallman hit every running lane with a burst of speed, and rarely went down after first contact. There were also a couple of times throughout where Watson would lull the Sooners’ defense to sleep with the run, and then surprise them with a shot down the field. Watson threw for 178 yards and touchdown.
While Clemson was doing just about anything it wanted to, the Sooners weren’t near as fortunate on their end. After rushing for a score on the first drive of the game, OU running back Samaje Perine injured his ankle on the first drive of the second half and wasn’t the same in the final two quarters as the Sooners let the game slip away. A head injury to running back Joe Mixon later in the third quarter didn’t help matters either.
Oklahoma’s defense didn’t play with any type of fire, and Clemson had 500 yards of offense with 12:37 left in the game and finished with 530 total yards.
The Sooners now enter the offseason after a turnaround year, and will be set to face a tough schedule right from the start of the 2016 season. OU will travel to Houston to take on the Cougars to open the year and then will host Ohio State two weeks later.