Clemson to face Alabama in college football title game
ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 01, 2016 07:00 PM
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) runs with the ball as Oklahoma defensive tackle Matthew Romar (92) attempts to stop him, during the first half of the Orange Bowl NCAA college football semifinal playoff game, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)MIAMI GARDENS, Florida (AP) — Clemson will meet Alabama in college football's championship game after both recorded convincing victories in Thursday's decisive bowl games.
Clemson, chasing its second national title — the other was in 1981 — beat Oklahoma 37-17 in the Orange Bowl, with quarterback Deshaun Watson running for one touchdown, passing for another and accounting for 332 yards.
Alabama cruised past Michigan State 38-0 in the Cotton Bowl to keep the Crimson Tide on target for a fourth national title in nine years. Quarterback Jake Coker found Calvin Ridley for two touchdowns as Alabama broke the shackles in the second quarter and won in a canter.
The title decider will be played on Jan. 11 in Arizona.
Clemson (14-0) dominated the second half and shut down Oklahoma's high-scoring offense that had averaged 52 points over its last seven games. The Sooners (11-2) actually came into the game as favorites, but the Tigers showed their perfect record was no fluke.
Watson 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.
Clemson sacked Baker Mayfield five times and held the Sooners to 121 yards over the final two quarters. Clemson piled up 550 yards in the game.
Alabama (13-1) looked like a team with no weaknesses against overmatched Michigan State (12-2).
Coker, who sat on the bench most of last season, was nearly perfect. He completed 25 of 30 passes for 286 yards.
Ridley was brilliant, streaking by defenders on deep throws and outfighting them on jump balls. He caught eight passes for 138 yards.
Jonathan Allen and the ferocious Tide defensive front sacked Connor Cook four times and allowed the Spartans only one trip into the red zone — which ended with Cyrus Jones interception at the goal line.
Jones added a high-stepping 57-yard punt return touchdown for the Tide, and Alabama hardly even had to use Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. The big tailback who has carried the offense most of the season was mostly just a role player against a defense stacked to stop him. He ran for 75 yards and scored two touchdowns. The last made it 38-0 halfway through the fourth quarter.
In the day's other bowl game, which had no impact on the national title, Houston beat turnover-plagued Florida State 38-24 in the Peach Bowl.
Greg Ward Jr. ran for two touchdowns and threw for another score. He threw for 238 yards and ran for 67 yards as Houston (13-1) scored the most points against Florida State this season.
The Seminoles (10-3), who trailed 21-3 at halftime, tried to rally with two fourth-quarter touchdown passes by Sean Maguire. It wasn't enough to overcome five turnovers.
Maguire, who was carted off the field with a lower left leg injury late in the first quarter, returned but threw four interceptions. Houston safety Trevon Stewart and cornerback William Jackson III each had two interceptions.