Preview: Oklahoma at Clemson

When: 4:00 PM ET, Thursday, December 31, 2015
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida




CAPITAL ONE ORANGE BOWL STORYLINES

1. Top-ranked Clemson is the lone remaining unbeaten squad and fourth-ranked Oklahoma has reeled off seven straight victories as they enter their College Football Playoff semifinal clash in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 31 at Miami Gardens, Fla. The Tigers are bidding for their first national championship since going 12-0 in 1981, while the Sooners are chasing their first national title since going 13-0 in 2000. Oklahoma's lone loss came to Texas on Oct. 10, while Clemson has won 16 consecutive games since losing to Georgia Tech in mid-November of the 2014 campaign.
 
2. There is no disputing the notion that the top two quarterbacks in the country are playing in this contest as Clemson sophomore Deshaun Watson finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting and Oklahoma junior Baker Mayfield placed fourth with the top two finishers both being running back. Watson is an all-around nightmare for defensive coordinators as he has passed for 3,512 yards and 30 touchdowns and rushed for 887 yards and 11 scores while Mayfield has passed for 3,389 yards and 35 touchdowns while rushing for 420 yards and seven scores. "I think he's exceptional," Sooners coach Bob Stoops told reporters of Watson. "What a great athlete - thrower, runner, everything. I really have a great respect and appreciation for what a quality player he is."
 
3. One aspect both teams are downplaying is that Clemson put a 40-6 thumping on the Sooners in last season's Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla. Watson missed the game with a knee injury and Oklahoma committed five turnovers and was never in the contest but Tigers coach Dabo Swinney has been insisting that nobody should be bringing up that game. "That just absolutely has nothing to do with this year," Swinney told reporters. "They're playing as good as anybody in the country right now, maybe the best of anybody in the country, so we know they'll be fired up to play us."

TV:
4 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Oklahoma -4

ABOUT OKLAHOMA (11-1, 8-1 Big 12): The Sooners have averaged 52 points during their seven-game winning streak as senior receiver Sterling Shepard and sophomore running back Samaje Perine complement Mayfield's prowess. Shepard has 79 receptions for 1,201 yards and 11 touchdown catches and ranks second in school history in receptions (226) and receiving yardage (3,395) while Perine has rushed for 1,291 yards and 15 touchdowns and has 3,004 career rushing yards to join Adrian Peterson (2004-05) as the only players to top 3,000 in their first two seasons as Sooners. Oklahoma allows 20.8 points per game and boasts solid players in senior outside linebacker Eric Striker (team-high 16 tackles for losses and 7.5 sacks), junior cornerback Zack Sanchez (team-leading six interceptions), sophomore cornerback Jordan Thomas (five interceptions), junior inside linebacker Dominique Alexander (team-best 91 tackles) and senior defensive end Charles Tapper (seven sacks).

ABOUT CLEMSON (13-0, 8-0 ACC): The Tigers are hoping standout sophomore receiver Artavis Scott (84 receptions, 805 yards) will be in top shape by the bowl game after he underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair meniscus cartilage in his right knee earlier this month. Sophomore running back Wayne Gallman has been superb with 1,332 yards and 10 touchdowns and is 14 yards shy of surpassing the school mark set by Raymond Priester in 1996. Clemson allows 20.2 points per game with standout junior defensive end Shaq Lawson delivering a dominating season - he has a team-best 9.5 sacks and leads the nation with 22.5 tackles for losses - while senior middle linebacker B.J. Goodson (team-high 91 tackles), junior cornerback Condrea Tankersley (team-leading five interceptions) and junior defensive end Kevin Dodd (eight sacks) also are having strong campaigns.



PREDICTION: Clemson 45, Oklahoma 40

Stats and Records

Team Comparison

  W/L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Oklahoma 11-1 W7 45.8 20.8 6-0 5-1 8-0 0-0 8-1
Clemson 13-0 W13 38.5 20.2 8-0 5-0 11-0 0-0 9-0

Last Meeting

Oklahoma Clemson
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
12/29/14 OKLA 6 CLEM 40 275 172 103 387 68 319

Player Stats

Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
OKLA T. Knight 45.9 103 0 3
CLEM C. Stoudt 72.2 319 3 0
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
OKLA S. Perine 23 134 5.8 0
CLEM W. Gallman 19 55 2.9 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
OKLA M. Quick 7 46 6.6 0
CLEM A. Scott 8 114 14.2 1
TDs Player TD
OKLA A. Ross 1
CLEM B. Boulware 1
Season
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
OKLA B. Mayfield 68.6 3389 35 5
CLEM D. Watson 69.5 3517 30 11
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
OKLA S. Perine 211 1291 6.1 15
CLEM W. Gallman 242 1319 5.5 10
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
OKLA S. Shepard 79 1201 15.2 11
CLEM A. Scott 84 805 9.6 5
TDs Player TD
OKLA S. Perine 16
CLEM W. Gallman 11

Quickchart Matchup

Oklahoma Off vs  Clemson Def
542.9 yards
296.2 yards
5.2 yards/rush
3.7 yards/rush
9.3 yards/attempt
5.9 yards/attempt
Clemson Off vs  Oklahoma Def
510.6 yards
350.7 yards
4.9 yards/rush
3.6 yards/rush
8.4 yards/attempt
6 yards/attempt

Matchup Stats - Full Matchup

Oklahoma Overall Clemson
11-1-0 W/L 13-0-0
9-3-0 ATS 6-7-0
8-4-0 O/U 8-5-0
45.8 Pts For 38.5
20.8 Pts Against 20.2
Oklahoma A/H Clemson
5-1 W/L 8-0
5-1-0 ATS 4-4-0
4-2-0 O/U 4-4-0
44.5 Pts For 36.5
18.7 Pts Against 18.2
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