Tigers QB Kelly Bryant shined early for the Tigers, setting a new ACC Championship record completing all 15 of his first 15 passes in the game. Bryant wouldn’t throw an incomplete pass until midway through the 2nd quarter with Clemson already on top 21-0.
“It's great to see all the work I've been putting in in the off-season just to be in this moment right now. It's special because we had a lot of questions going into the season, a lot of guys that left last year.” Bryant continued, “But, you know, just having the guys around me, the coaches believe in me, just been really great to see.”
Bryant finished the game 23 of 29 passing for 252 yards and 1 touchdown pass. Bryant also had one of the Tigers 4 rushing touchdowns in the game. As much as the offense shined, the Tiger defense was even more remarkable.
Miami was unable to get anything going on offense in the 1st half. At the end of the 1st quarter, Miami had just 22 yards of total offense, and by the end of the 1st half, the Canes had just 64 yards. Additionally, Clemson flipped the script on the Canes “turnover chain.”
After Clemson muffed a punt and Miami recovered after the Canes first drive stalled out, Miami broke out the “turnover chain.” After that, all that was seen on the field was the “Invisible turnover chain” as described by the Clemson players.
The first time the invisible turnover chain showed up was when Kelly Bryant scored his rushing TD in the 1st quarter.
“That was me and Ray-Ray (McCloud). He came up with it. It was pretty neat.”, described Bryant.
“Invisible turnover chain?” asked Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney.
Bryant just smiled and said, “It was pretty neat.”
The turnover trouble for the Canes did not start until the 2nd half when on their second drive of the half Miami quarterback Malik Rosier connected with Jeff Thomas for an 18-yard completion, which at the time was the Canes biggest gain of the day.
Unfortunately, Thomas made a move on the sideline to go back towards midfield, and Clemson DB Ryan Carter hit the ball and forced a fumble with Dorian O’Daniel recovering it for the Tigers.
Miami was able to force Clemson into a 3 and out on the ensuing possession. However, the next drive for the Canes would end much like the previous. On 3rd and 6, from their own 35-yard line, Rosier’s pass attempt would find the hands of Carter for Clemson who corralled the interception. It was the 3rd turnover in the last two games that Carter forced.
After Carter seizing the opportunity, the Tigers as a team would seize the opportunity, as Kelly Bryant marched Clemson down the field on a 6-play 43-yard drive that was capped off by an 11 yard Tavien Feaster touchdown. This made it 31-0, all but sealing the deal for the Tigers with just 3:12 left to play in the third quarter.
To this point, Miami had just 53 yards of total offense in the 2nd half and only 117 yards of total offense in the entire game up till then.
Miami head coach Mark Richt did not shade away from the obvious as he opened his post-game presser.
“Well, congratulations to Clemson. They thoroughly whipped us. Their coaches did a great job. Players did a great job. Our guys fought, but, you know, obviously, it didn't go well at all. Early in the game, they scored every time they touched it. We couldn't get it going offensively really the entire game obviously.”
Miami finished the game with 214 yards of total offense in the game and was able to meager up only 3 points in the game with their lone score coming from a 22-yd Michael Badgley field goal with 4:14 left in the game.
Kelly Bryant and most of the Clemson first team would not see the field after the end of the 3rd quarter. It was a pure display of domination from Clemson, solidifying their place as the current number one team in the country. A performance in which punched their ticket to a 3rd straight College Football Playoff berth, something it is coach Dabo Swinney does not take lightly and doesn’t see his team as defending champs.
“No, we're the attacking champs. We're attacking for another one. That's been our mindset all year. We're not defending anything. I mean, like I said earlier in the year, if we had the same team back, but we've got a different team. We're attacking to try to go win another one.”
“But it's sequential, man. You got to take care of business. We're four quarters away. We worked all year to have this opportunity. We've earned it. We look forward to playing on that stage and putting our best foot forward.”