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Watson-led Clemson knocks off Oklahoma, will play for title

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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Clemson QB Deshaun Watson will play in the national championship game to cap off his sophomore season.

Deshaun Watson was denied the Heisman Trophy, but the Clemson quarterback won't be denied the chance to win a national championship.


» Zierlein: Clemson QB shows why he's a fast-rising prospect


The sophomore quarterback led the Tigers, college football's only undefeated FBS team at 14-0, to a 37-17 win over Oklahoma on Thursday in the Orange Bowl to take the first of two College Football Playoff semifinals. Clemson will face Alabama -- the winner of the Cotton Bowl over Michigan State -- in the national title game in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 11.

Watson used his legs as much as his arm to get there.

Check out the best images from the 2015-16 college football bowl season.

The dual threat rushed for 145 yards on 24 carries to help offset a pedestrian passing performance. Clemson running back Wayne Gallman was integral in the Tigers' win as well, rushing 26 times for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Gallman converted first downs on nine of his carries and helped Watson stay out of third-and-long situations.

Watson completed 16 of 30 passes for 187 yards, one touchdown and an interception.

The CU defense was suffocating, allowing just 67 rushing yards and stuffing the Sooners on a crucial fourth-and-1 play in the second half.

Several injuries to key players were a factor in the game. Clemson lost defensive end Shaq Lawson early in the game with an injury, while Oklahoma lost running back Joe Mixon and briefly lost top rusher Samaje Perine. Perine returned after Mixon exited, but was injured again in the fourth quarter and left the game with OU behind 37-17. Lawson was injured when he sacked Mayfield in the first quarter and he did not return. Lawson, a top pro prospect who intends to enter the draft as a junior, had taunted the Sooners leading up the game.

Mayfield threw two interceptions and wasn't as effective as a scrambler as he usually is.

Oklahoma cornerback Zack Sanchez, one of the top draft prospects in the game, intercepted Watson in the Sooners' end zone before halftime.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter@ChaseGoodbread.

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