Charlotte, NC – After months of uninteresting blowouts, Tiger fans were treated to an interesting blowout for a change as Clemson won their fifth consecutive ACC title 62-17.
Virginia lived and died by the play of quarterback Bryce Perkins, a joy to watch and the sole factor making Virginia interesting to watch. Three plays in, Bryce Perkins took advantage of Tanner Muse’s busted coverage and lofted a 46-yard pass to enter the red zone early.
Just as they lived by the play of Perkins, they died by the play of Perkins as he made a horrible third down throw that Nolan Turner intercepted in the end zone.
Trevor Lawrence and the offense dictated the agenda of the game from their first drive. Virginia gave Clemson cushion, Clemson took it and then some. Four passes and a facemask penalty later, Lawrence connected with the Clemson Receiver of the Day Tee Higgins for a 19-yard score.
Perkins was involved in all twelve plays of Virginia’s next five-minute drive, leading Virginia to their only score of the first half in the middle of the first quarter.
Trevor Lawrence wouldn’t let the tie stand for long – finding a wide open Justyn Ross across the middle of the field. One shaken-off defender later, he was in the end zone for a 59-yard score.
On the next drive of pick-your-own-adventure, BT Potter scored on his third field goal attempt. He missed a 52-yard field goal after being iced by Coach Swinney, missed it again due to a Virginia off sides call, and drilled the 47-yard score on the third try to go up 17-7.
Tee Higgins may not have been a Biletnikoff finalist, but he sure played the part of one as he wowed the entire stadium on a sideline-jump-loop catch that survived review for a 24-yard gain. Etienne earned the final 26 yards on a singular rush, driving through the Cavalier defense on sheer will alone.
The last six minutes of the half were mostly consumed by another dominant Clemson march to extend their lead. Lawrence ran with the toughness of a linebacker on a four-yard scramble one play, then threw a back-of-the-end-zone- NFL laser to Tee Higgins to go up 31-7 entering halftime.
Clemson stalled coming out of halftime, so Bryce Perkins struck while the iron was hot. Completing eight passes of varying lengths on the ten play drive, the well-coached Cavs found the end zone as Jana dodged a Tanner Muse whiffed tackle for the score (31-14).
It was an excellent display of the talent that Bryce Perkins (266 passing yards) and Dubois (130 receiving yards). But it was nothing compared to the coronation of Trevor Lawrence and Tee Higgins in the ACC Championship and Clemson record books.
Tee tracked a slightly underthrown 54-yard deep bomb from Trevor to move the chains and an 11-yard scoring catch that made history.
Trevor broke the ACCCG passing touchdown record, Tee broke the ACCCG receiving touchdown record, and Tee tied Sammy Watkins and Nuk Hopkins in Clemson’s record book for the most receiving touchdowns in a Clemson career (27).
The final score was 62-17, as Clemson scored two late touchdowns to stretch the lead. Tee Higgins won the MVP Award with nine catches, 182 yards, and three scores.
A record-setting championship in a record-setting season. Twenty-eight straight victories. But the ROY Bus isn’t dead. The talk of Clemson being lesser-than still continues after five straight Clemson Championships.
Clemson will need no extra motivation heading into the playoffs. The defending national champions, excellent statistically, yet likely to be seeded third and headed to Phoenix.
The ROY Bus is alive more than ever – and its ready for game 29. Paul Finebaum? He can’t hear him over the diesel engine.