Clemson dominates Miami to claim ACC championship
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — No. 1 Clemson emphatically claimed its spot in the College Football Playoff with a 38-3 victory over No. 7 Miami in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game Saturday.
The Tigers (12-1) came in ranked atop the CFP and should remain that way following today’s final poll after their decisive show left little doubt the defending national champs are looking to go back-to-back.
“Get ready, Sugar Bowl,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney shouted. “Here we come.”
Kelly Bryant set a championship game record — and surpassed his friend and former teammate Deshaun Watson’s mark of 13 — by completing his first 15 passes and finished with 252 yards passing and a 27-yard TD pass to Deon Cain on the way to Clemson’s third straight ACC crown.
“It’s just in our DNA. We’re built for moments like this,” said Bryant, named the game’s MVP.
Bryant had one of Clemson’s four rushing touchdowns and the Tigers defense made it stand up against a Hurricanes team that has been spurred on to its turnaround season by their glitzy, bling-covered “Turnover Chain” — jewelry worn by any Miami player with a pick or a fumble.
Instead, it was the Tigers who won the turnover battle (three to one) and held Miami (10-2, No. 7 CFP) to its fewest points and yards of the season to spoil the Hurricanes’ first appearance in the contest since the one-time powerhouse joined the league in 2004.
Miami fell apart in the third quarter with a pair of Malik Rosier interceptions leading to 10 points for the Tigers. The Hurricanes, who had averaged 440 yards a game this season, finished with 214 yards. They broke the shutout on Michael Badgley’s 29-yard field goal with 3:29 to go.
“Obviously, it didn’t go well at all,” Miami coach Mark Richt said. “It just shows they’re the class of our league and they’re the measuring stick.”