Orange Bowl loss to Clemson doesn't diminish Oklahoma's resurgence

The No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners fell short of the national title game when they lost, 37-17, to the No. 1 Clemson Tigers in the Orange Bowl on Thursday night.
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — If you bought tickets to the Jan. 11 date of the Oklahoma Revenge Tour, try to sell them back. The show stopped 11 days earlier than expected. The Sooners won’t be playing in Glendale, Ariz.

It was Clemson 37, Oklahoma 17 on Thursday night in the Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium and, no, the game really wasn’t that close. Sooners coach Bob Stoops predicted that the team able to run the ball would run toward the title game and, boy, was he right. Clemson piled up 312 rushing yards, led by tailback Wayne Gallman (26 carries for 150 yards with two touchdowns) and quarterback Deshaun Watson (24 carries for 145 yards with one touchdown).

Oklahoma, meanwhile, managed just 67 yards on the ground. That was the product of one major injury—redshirt freshman Joe Mixon was knocked out of the game and temporarily knocked unconscious after a brutal hit midway through the third quarter—one minor injury—sophomore Samaje Perine had to be helped off the field after a defender landed on his ankle but returned later—and one dominant performance in the trenches from Clemson’s front seven. Sooners center Ty Darlington said afterward that “it wasn’t about them pushing us around,” but it sure looked like it.

Darlington, who has become one of the most eloquent spokesmen in all of college athletics, couldn’t say much as he walked off the field for the last time in a Sooners jersey with tears pooling in his eyes. Receiver Durron Neal staggered off sobbing, arms over his head. No teammate’s hug could comfort him.

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