Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) is sacked by Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson (90) during the first half of the Orange Bowl NCAA college football semifinal playoff game, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky
December 31, 2015

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson insists that an injured left knee will not keep him from the field when the Tigers play Alabama for the national championship on Jan. 11.

The All-American was hurt early in Clemson's 37-17 semifinal victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Thursday night, limping noticeably when he tried to play through the injury. The Tigers took him out of the game at halftime, and Lawson still had an ice pack strapped to his knee during the postgame celebration.

''I'm going to be ready to play in the national championship,'' Lawson said. ''I'm going to be back.''

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said the initial diagnosis was a sprained medial collateral ligament, and that it kept Lawson from pushing off effectively. Swinney said he did not believe the injury was a cause for major concern.

''He tried to go back in,'' Swinney said.

Lawson missed most of the game's opening series after getting shaken up, and Oklahoma rolled down the field and took a quick 7-0 lead. But the Tigers settled down, adjusted schemes when they knew Lawson would miss the rest of the game and outscored the Sooners 21-0 after halftime. Austin Bryant got the bulk of the extra playing time in Lawson's absence, and finished with four tackles.

''We knew Austin was going to be ready,'' Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware said. ''Next man up. ... We played a lot of (second-stringers) today, and they all were ready.''

Lawson went from player to coach after halftime, saying he was trying to lead teammates with words and advice on the sideline.

''I handled it well,'' Lawson said.

He'll have a week and a half to get ready, and said he'll get ''as much treatment as I need'' to be ready for the championship game in Glendale, Arizona.

''I could tell it's nothing serious,'' Lawson said. ''It's not serious.''


AP college football site: http://collegefootball.ap.org

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