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Notebook: Clemson obtains third straight ACC title

(Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS)

This past Saturday in college football was heavily-anticipated for teams and fans everywhere, but it was just another day of competition for Clemson, as it dominated Miami 38-3 to win its third straight Atlantic Coastal Conference title.

Leading 7-0 in the first quarter, Tigers quarterback Kelly Bryant snuck into the end zone for an 11-yard rushing touchdown. Bryant, who replaced 2016 Heismann finalist Deshaun Watson, had a stellar game, completing 23-of-29 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown in the air to go along with the rushing score.

Other rushing touchdowns came from Clemson’s Travis Etienne, Tavien Feaster and Adam Choice. The Tigers made their way through Miami to the end zone with ease throughout the game, scoring 38 straight points until the Hurricanes made a late field goal in the fourth quarter.

There were several instances where Miami failed to capitalize on turnovers. At 8:39 in the first quarter, when the game was still just a one score difference, the Hurricanes recovered a botched fair catch attempt by Clemson. Starting within the Tiger’s 37-yard line, Miami still ended their drive with a missed fail goal, setting the stage for a poor offensive stance for the rest of the game.

The win earned Clemson the top spot in the college football playoffs, where they will face Alabama. The two teams have met in the previous two national championship games.

Ohio State defeats Wisconsin in Big Ten Championship

With 1:09 remaining in the Big Ten championship game, the Buckeyes safety Damon Webb intercepted Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook to seal a 27-21 victory. It was the second pick of the game for Hornibrook, with the first interception coming on the Badgers’ second drive of the game while in the Ohio State red zone.

Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett, who had knee surgery just a week prior to Saturday, delivered big plays for Ohio State throughout the game. He threw for 211 yards and two touchdowns, one of which went for 84 yards to wide receiver Terry McLaurin. Barrett also added a rushing touchdown.

The Buckeyes went into halftime with a 21-10 lead, but their offense was mostly stagnant from thereon out. The key to their victory was how they outmatched Wisconsin on the ground.

Ohio State rushed for 238 yards, good for 5.7 yards-per-rush compared to the Badgers who only rushed for 60 yards on 32 carries. Leading running back J.K. Dobbins rushed for 174 yards on 17 carries for the Buckeyes.

The loss ended Wisconsin’s undefeated season and a chance at the playoffs. Even with the Big Ten title, Ohio State finished No. 5 in the rankings, making them the first team out of the playoffs.

Georgia wins SEC title game over Auburn

It was Auburn who delivered the first punch of the Southeastern title game with 9:54 to go in the first quarter, when Nate Craig-Myers caught a six-yard touchdown pass. That would be the last time it would score on the Georgia defense, as the Tigers fell 28-7.

Going into the game, Georgia’s only loss had come to Auburn earlier in the season, a game in which the Tigers dominated all phases of the game.

With 421 total yards of offense, it is easy to see how Georgia has remained nearly undefeated. The longest run of the day, which happened to be Georgia’s final touchdown, was a 64-yard rush by leading rusher D’Andre Swift. Swift finished the day with 88 yards, averaging 12.6 yards-per-carry.

The loss dropped Auburn out of the playoffs, they will now face the University of Central Florida in the Peach Bowl. The Bulldogs will face Oklahoma in the playoffs.

Justin Ekstrom can be reached at jekstrom@umass.edu.

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