A steamy Orange Bowl awaits Clemson and Oklahoma
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) The latest developments from the College Football Playoff national semifinal game between Clemson and Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl (all times local):
It's over - Clemson is going to play for the national title.
The Tigers remained the nation's lone unbeaten team, rolling past Oklahoma 37-17 in the Orange Bowl on Thursday night. Now 14-0, Clemson will play either Alabama or Michigan State on Jan. 11 for the title.
Clemson is the second Atlantic Coast Conference team to win 14 games. Florida State did it en route to the national title in 2013. The Tigers spilled onto the field in celebration when time expired, and coach Dabo Swinney raved about his team after quarterback Deshaun Watson threw the ball skyward in celebration.
Amid the celebration, Swinney was saying ''our team has shown heart and guts all year long.'' Swinney says he told his team no one believed in them, noting they were the underdog in the Orange Bowl.
Swinney says, ''all I know is, we're going to the natty!''
Baker Mayfield's night is over, as is his season.
Oklahoma's quarterback appeared to get shaken up after making the tackle that followed his second interception of the night, and when the Sooners got the ball back late he remained on the sideline.
Mayfield finished 26 of 41 for 311 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Clemson leads Oklahoma 37-17 late, and is about to wrap up its trip to the College Football Playoff national championship game.
The odds are now stacked very, very high against Oklahoma.
Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield just guided his team deep into Clemson territory, then had a pass intercepted by Clemson's Ben Boulware near the goal line with 7:23 left and Clemson leading the Orange Bowl 37-17.
It was Mayfield's second interception of the second half.
A score there for Oklahoma would have made things interesting - but now Clemson's grip on this one just got even more secure.
The national championship game is Jan. 11 in Glendale, Arizona, at the home of the NFL's Arizona Cardinals.
Advantage: Dabo Swinney.
Clemson's coach is on his way to a sixth consecutive win in an NFL stadium, with his Tigers leading Oklahoma 37-17 in the fourth quarter of the Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium.
In 2012, he beat Auburn 26-19 and LSU 25-24, both at the Georgia Dome. In 2013 he beat Ohio State 40-35 at Sun Life. And this season, he beat Miami 58-0 at Sun Life and North Carolina 45-37 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
A win in the Orange Bowl, and it's heading that way, would be six in a row for Swinney.
SCORING UPDATE: CLEMSON 37, OKLAHOMA 17
This is turning into a Clemson runaway.
Wayne Gallman scored his second touchdown of the night on a 4-yard run with 10:48 left, and the Tigers now lead Oklahoma 37-17 in the Orange Bowl. It's been all Clemson in the second half, the Tigers outscoring the Sooners 21-0 since intermission.
Clemson is up to 302 yards rushing and 520 yards overall. Oklahoma allowed 300-plus rushing yards only once this season - in its loss to Texas.
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is in a very exclusive club.
He's now just the third player in FBS history with at least 3,500 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in the same season. Watson needed 113 yards rushing to get there; he had 130 on the ground through three quarters of the Orange Bowl.
The others in that club? Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour in 2007, and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel in 2012.
There's one quarter left in the Orange Bowl, with Clemson leading Oklahoma 30-17 after 45 minutes of play.
And the third quarter was all Tigers.
Clemson outscored Oklahoma 14-0 in the third, outgaining the Sooners 175-59 in the quarter. Clemson's B.J. Goodson intercepted a pass from Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield late in the third, ending a drive where the Sooners were in Tigers' territory.
Clemson has the ball to start the fourth as well.
SCORING UPDATE: CLEMSON 30, OKLAHOMA 17
The nation's No. 1 team is dominating the third quarter at the Orange Bowl, with Clemson now up 30-17 after Deshaun Watson connected with Hunter Renfrow on a 35-yard scoring pass.
Clemson is outscoring Oklahoma 14-0 in the third.
The Tigers are outgaining the Sooners 476-283, and their latest touchdown came after Oklahoma gambled and lost on fourth down. Facing fourth-and-1 from the Clemson 30, the Sooners called for Samaje Perine to get a direct snap - but he got nowhere near where he needed to for the drive to be extended.
And Clemson pounced, needing just four plays to find the end zone.
The injuries are piling up at the Orange Bowl, and Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon just got quite a scare.
Mixon got hurt as he tried to block Clemson's Richard Yeargin - who's playing because Tigers defensive end Shaq Lawson is out with a leg injury. Mixon appeared to hit the back of his head on the turf, and Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield was wide-eyed in disbelief.
Mixon was tended to by several members of Oklahoma's medical staff, then helped to his feet. When he went off, running back Samaje Perine - who left moments earlier with a left leg injury - returned to the game.
Clemson just got a big break.
Clemson's Wayne Gallman took a pitch from Deshaun Watson and got hit almost immediately by Oklahoma's Dominique Alexander, causing a fumble with no Tigers around to even try to make a play for the ball.
But before the Sooners could recover, the ball squirted out of bounds and Clemson kept possession. However, the Sooners escaped unscathed - Greg Huegel's 47-yard field goal with 7:41 left in the third missed, and Oklahoma stayed within 23-17.
Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton has just been presented with the Courage Award, presented by the Orange Bowl and Football Writers Association of America.
Knighton got his trophy in a brief on-field ceremony in the third quarter.
A heatstroke struck him during conditioning drills in February 2014, causing him to spend 12 days in a coma and lose 55 pounds. He returned to the Hurricanes this season - defying all odds, and helped Miami go 8-5.
Oklahoma standout running back Samaje Perine is hurt.
Perine got tackled by Clemson's 325-pound defensive lineman D.J. Reader on the Sooners' second play of the half, and the Oklahoma runner immediately started grabbing at his lower left leg. He remained down for about two minutes, then got up and was helped to the sideline - not even trying to put any weight on his left leg.
Perine had a touchdown run in the first half for the Sooners, and has a team-best 1,335 rushing yards so far this season.
On the next play, Baker Mayfield got sacked and Oklahoma was forced to punt, down 23-17 and with Clemson looking like it had all the momentum.
SCORING UPDATE: CLEMSON 23, OKLAHOMA 17
The offensive showcase at the Orange Bowl continues.
Clemson has taken the lead back for a second time in this College Football Playoff semifinal, going up 23-17 with Wayne Gallman scoring on a 1-yard run with 10:51 left in the third quarter.
It was the first drive of the second half. The Tigers went 75 yards in 12 plays, and have scored on five of their seven possessions so far in this game.
Gallman had four carries for 23 yards on the drive, and is up to 62 yards on 11 carries.
The second half is underway at the Orange Bowl, and Clemson's road to the national championship game is going to be a little tougher than planned.
Star defensive end Shaq Lawson, who was hurt early in the game and limping noticeably, has been ruled out and will miss the second half. Clemson only says it's because of an injury, but Lawson was seen on the sideline with ice on his left knee during the first half.
It's halftime at the Orange Bowl, Oklahoma leading Clemson 17-16 after Zack Sanchez intercepted a pass from the Tigers' Deshaun Watson in the end zone to keep the Sooners on top in the final seconds.
That was just the second red-zone turnover for the Tigers this season, and ended a scoring flurry late in the half.
The teams combined for five scores in the final 12:45 before intermission, and seven of the 12 drives in the game - excluding Oklahoma's kneel-down to end the half - have resulted in points. Clemson leads in yards, 305-257.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told ESPN before he left the field at halftime, ''Heck of a ballgame - just like we thought.''
SCORING UPDATE: OKLAHOMA 17, CLEMSON 16
Oh, how good is this Orange Bowl so far?
Back and forth they've gone, and it's now Oklahoma back on top 17-16 after Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield hit Mark Andrews with an 11-yard scoring strike with 1:34 left in the half. The drive took only 46 seconds.
The touchdown came one play after Mayfield - under pressure - found Dede Westbrook down the middle of the field for a 42-yard gain.
Mayfield is up to 226 passing yards already.
And be wary, Clemson: Under coach Bob Stoops, the Sooners are 158-10 when leading at halftime.
SCORING UPDATE: CLEMSON 16, OKLAHOMA 10
Greg Huegel's third field goal of the game, this one from 43 yards, has put Clemson on top of Oklahoma 16-10 with 2:17 left in the first half at the Orange Bowl.
Responding quickly after Oklahoma got a field goal to get within three, the Tigers needed just over two minutes to go 49 yards in nine plays.
Huegel has been good from 26, 36 and now 43 yards.
Deshaun Watson is carrying the Tigers, rushing for 105 yards and throwing for 78 more so far.
SCORING UPDATE: CLEMSON 13, OKLAHOMA 10
Austin Seibert's 22-yard field goal has gotten Oklahoma within 13-10 with 4:41 left in the first half at the Orange Bowl.
The Sooners went 67 yards in 10 plays, snapping a run of 13 unanswered points by the Tigers. Clemson still leads in yards, 205-183 - but Oklahoma needed something to stop the Tigers' momentum, and got it.
There's already been six flags for 15-yard offenses in the Orange Bowl, by the midpoint of the second quarter.
Two of them didn't count, being of the offsetting unsportsmanlike-conduct variety. But four others went for 15 yards, including a sideline infraction against Clemson that helped Oklahoma big-time on the Sooners' march to a field goal that got them within 13-10 with 4:41 left in the half.
Both Oklahoma scoring drives so far were assisted by 15-yard penalties against the Tigers, the first being a pass interference on the game's opening possession.
SCORING UPDATE: CLEMSON 13, OKLAHOMA 7
The nation's No. 1 team now has scored 13 unanswered points and leads Oklahoma 13-7 in the Orange Bowl, after Greg Huegel connected on a 36-yard field goal with 7:10 left in the first half.
Huegel was going to originally face a shorter kick, but an intentional grounding penalty on third down pushed the Tigers back.
It's the third straight drive that ended with a score for Clemson. Oklahoma's last three drives have all ended with punts.
Clemson's Wayne Gallman is the Tigers' new single-season rushing record-holder.
Gallman came into the Orange Bowl needing just 14 yards to take over the top spot, and eclipsed that in the first quarter of the Tigers' game against Oklahoma on Thursday.
Gallman topped the mark of 1,345 yards set by Raymond Priester in 1996.
SCORING UPDATE: CLEMSON 10, OKLAHOMA 7
Clemson has taken a 10-7 lead over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl - and a fake punt was huge for the Tigers.
Deshaun Watson scored on a 5-yard run with 12:45 left in the second quarter, doing so after Clemson coach Dabo Swinney went to some trickery to keep a drive alive.
Clemson punter Andy Teasdall rolled right as if he was punting one rugby-style, then deciding to throw back across the field to defensive tackle Christian Wilkins for a 31-yard gain. Two plays later, Watson scored to put the Tigers on top.
There were only two first-quarter penalties in the Orange Bowl, but both were costly.
A pass interference call against Clemson helped Oklahoma on its touchdown drive on the game's first possession, gifting the Sooners 15 yards on a pass from Baker Mayfield that seemed uncatchable. And an unsportsmanlike conduct call against the Sooners late in the quarter knocked them back 15 yards, out of field goal range.
Penalties haven't been a big issue for either team this season. Clemson came in averaging 48 penalty yards per game, Oklahoma at 61 per game.
It's the end of the first quarter at the Orange Bowl, Oklahoma still leading Clemson 7-3.
And it looks like Clemson is in a bit of trouble.
Star defensive end Shaq Lawson has missed the majority of plays in the first quarter, now with ice on his left knee and walking with a pronounced limp when he tries to move. Oklahoma racked up 100 yards in the first quarter, compared to 47 for Clemson.
The Tigers trailed for 11 minutes, 16 seconds. That's already the third-most time they've spent playing from behind in a game all season.
SCORING UPDATE: OKLAHOMA 7, CLEMSON 3
Clemson is on the board in the Orange Bowl.
Greg Huegel's 26-yard field goal with 3:50 left in the first quarter has cut Oklahoma's lead to 7-3.
The Tigers took advantage of a short field. They got the ball at the Oklahoma 28 after Sooners' punter Austin Seibert shanked a punt from deep in his team's territory. After a pair of first downs, the Tigers had to settle for three points.
Clemson's Shaq Lawson is limping a bit, but still making plays for the Tigers.
He just sacked Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield on third down deep in Sooners territory, and then OU's Austin Seibert shanked a punt to set Clemson up at the Oklahoma 28 for its second drive of the Orange Bowl.
Lawson wasn't on the field for most of Oklahoma's first drive, when the Sooners scored for a 7-0 lead. He was out there for the second drive, and Oklahoma got nothing going.
SCORING UPDATE: OKLAHOMA 7, CLEMSON 0
That didn't take long.
Oklahoma's Samaje Perine plowed his way in for a 1-yard touchdown run, and the Sooners took a quick 7-0 lead over Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The Sooners took the opening kickoff and went 75 yards in 10 plays.
Clemson sacked Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield on the first play, but the Sooners recovered quickly. Two big third-down conversions fueled the drive: a 17-yard run by Perine, and a 10-yard completion from Mayfield to Dede Westbrook.
Clemson didn't trail for a single second in eight of its first 13 games this season.
At long last, it's game time.
Clemson has won the coin toss and will kick off to Oklahoma to open the Orange Bowl.
For Oklahoma, this game is a chance to not just get to the national title matchup but finish avenging all that went wrong last season. The Sooners lost to five teams last year - Kansas State, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State and Clemson.
They've already beaten the first four on that list in 2015, and now get their shot at the Tigers in this CFP semifinal.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney looks more than ready to get this started, telling ESPN just before kickoff ''it's going to be a heck of a ballgame.''
If early arrivals into Sun Life Stadium are any indication, it's a Clemson home game in the Orange Bowl.
The Tigers are on the home sideline and are using the same tunnel that the Miami Dolphins use to enter the field, but they also have a decided edge over Oklahoma in fans - at least using the highly scientific method of people wearing Clemson colors versus people wearing Sooners colors.
Then again, it makes geographic sense. Clemson is about 750 miles from Miami Gardens, while Norman, Oklahoma is roughly 1,500 miles from South Florida.
The Gatorade coolers on the sidelines at Sun Life Stadium are already getting quite a workout, and kickoff of the Orange Bowl is about an hour away.
Put simply, it's hot in South Florida.
The temperature on the field was 83 degrees at 3 p.m., and factoring in the 71 percent humidity made it feel like 89 degrees outside when the Tigers and Sooners were going through their warmups. It is unseasonably warm, even for South Florida, with some weather stations around the area reporting record highs for this date.
So cramping very easily could be a factor in the first of today's CFP semifinals.
AP College Football website: http://collegefootball.ap.org