ACC championship: Clemson routs Virginia for another crown
Trevor Lawrence threw four touchdown passes, three to Tee Higgins, and No. 3 Clemson won its fifth consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference title with a 62-17 victory over No. 23 Virginia on Saturday night.
The defending national champion Tigers (13-0) have won 28 games in a row and head to the College Football Playoff with a chance for a third crown in four years.
And while Virginia (9-4) and quarterback Bryce Perkins put forth a game plan that caused the Tigers to sweat early on, there was no stopping Clemson’s dazzling set of experienced playmakers led by Lawrence and Higgins on the way to ACC championship game records for points and yards (621).
Lawrence set an ACC title game record with his four touchdown throws and had 302 yards passing, his second best total this season. He completed 16 of 22 passes before coming out in the third quarter.
No. 2 LSU locked up a spot in the College Football Playoff for the first time, dominating No. 4 Georgia 37-10 in the SEC championship game.
Higgins finished with 182 receiving yards and the three touchdowns, both bests in ACC championship game play.
Travis Etienne had 114 yards, his eighth game over 100 yards this season.
Virginia and Perkins appeared to have a game plan to compete with the Tigers, even without leading receiver Joe Reed out because of injury.
Perkins threw a 20-yard scoring pass to Hasise Dubois to tie it 7, just the second touchdown pass allowed by Clemson in its past seven games.
Virginia’s defense sacked Lawrence twice in the opening half (Clemson had allowed only 11 sacks in the regular season), and Perkins accounted for 177 yards the first 30 minutes — nearly as many as the 194 yards the Tigers allowed in a 38-3 win last week over South Carolina.
But it was impossible to contain Clemson’s offense.
Oklahoma needed overtime to defeat Baylor 30-23 on Saturday in the Big 12 championship game.
Higgins had scoring catches of 19 and seven yards, Justyn Ross went 59 yards for another touchdown (the second longest in ACC championship game history) and Etienne broke free for a 26-yard touchdown run as Clemson opened a 31-7 lead by halftime.
Perkins, the ACC’s leader in total offense, had 324 of the Cavaliers’ 387 yards, which were a season high allowed by Clemson’s defense this season.
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