In a matchup of two of college football's biggest heavyweights, the third-seeded Clemson Tigers defeated the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes, 29-23, to advance to the CFP National Championship game and a date with No. 1 seed LSU inside of Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Jan. 13.
The Buckeyes' offense and special teams put a quick 16 points on the board while the defense forced punts on three of Clemson's first four drives. Things were going all OSU's way until Buckeyes defensive back Shaun Wade was ejected at the 4:47 mark of the second quarter after being flagged for targeting on a hit to Tigers' quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
After missing one snap, Lawrence returned to the game and helped spur a 21-0 Clemson run, which included TDs on three of the next four drives. The second of those scores saw Lawrence rip off a stunning 67-yard run to cut the deficit to two going into halftime.
Buckeyes QB Justin Fields would lead a 13-play, 84-yard TD drive to re-take the lead with 11:46 remaining. After a punt from both teams, the Tigers would again find the end zone, this time with Lawrence finding running back Travis Etienne on a 34-yard pass. It was Etienne's second 30-plus yard TD catch of the evening.
The ensuing two-point conversion gave Clemson a six-point lead with less than two minutes remaining, and it would prove to be enough after Fields was intercepted by safety Nolan Turner to seal the game. A heartbreaking outcome for the former Heisman hopeful, who had only thrown one INT coming into the game and had two in the defeat. He added 320 yards -- 30-of-46 -- and a TD to the final box score of his sophomore season.
Lawrence went 18-of-33 for 259 yards and two TDs while Etienne added 10 carries for 36 yards and a score, and three catches for 98 yards and two scores. OSU RB J.K. Dobbins had a monster game in the loss, rushing for 134 yards and a TD on 18 carries.
Here are reactions to Clemson's thrilling win from players around the NFL:
Oklahoma vs. LSU
Game 1 of the College Football Playoff Semifinals saw the No 1. LSU Tigers take down the fourth-seeded Oklahoma Sooners, 63-28, to advance to their first CFP National Championship game.
All season, LSU quarterback and 2019 Heisman winner Joe Burrow has garnered buzz for his sensational play and the show he put on inside of Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta somehow exceeded everything he's done up to this point. Prior to exiting the game early in the fourth quarter, Burrow put together a mind-blowing stat line of 493 yards and seven (!) touchdowns on 29-of-39 completions. He also rushed the ball five times for 22 yards and a TD. His seven TD passes all came in the first 30 minutes.
When all was said and done, Burrow added five CFP records, including most TDs responsible for (eight), passing TDs (seven), passing yards in a game (493) and total yards (515), to his already stellar resume. His seven TD passes are also the most in a half of a bowl game by any player in FBS history, and his eight total TDs are the most ever in a bowl game and the most in a game in SEC history.
Receiver Justin Jefferson -- 14 catches, 227 receiving yards -- set a single-game CFP record for most receiving yards and TD catches (four) -- all of his scores came in the first half. Sooners QB Jalen Hurts, who finished second behind Burrow in Heisman votes earlier this month, ended the night going 15-of-31 for 217 yards and a pick.
Here are reactions to LSU's overwhelming victory from players around the NFL: