Clemson's first play from scrimmage in Monday's Russell Athletic Bowl was a 65-yard touchdown pass, and the rest of the game was just as easy for the Tigers as they hammered Oklahoma, 40-6, in Orlando.
Clemson came in leading the nation in total defense and held Oklahoma -- which was 20th in the nation in total offense averaging 480.5 yards per game -- to just 219 yards. The Sooners were 2-of-12 on third down.
Tigers senior quarterback Cole Stoudt had a rough season, losing his starting job in late September, but an injury to true freshman Deshaun Watson meant Stoudt got the start Monday night in his final college game. He responded with the best outing of his career, going 26-of-36 for 319 yards and three touchdowns. His previous career high was 302 yards in the second game of the season, against FCS member South Carolina State, and he had thrown just six TD passes this season going into the game.
Stoudt vastly outplayed Oklahoma starter Trevor Knight, who returned after missing the final three games of the regular season with a neck injury. Knight, who was masterful in last season's Sugar Bowl win over Alabama, was 17-of-37 for just 103 yards and three interceptions Monday night.
Stoudt -- whose dad, Cliff, was a quarterback in the NFL from 1977 through 1991 for the Pittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals, Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys -- threw a TD pass on Clemson's first play to true freshman wide receiver Artavis Scott, who was playing about two hours from his hometown in the St. Petersburg area. Scott had eight catches for 114 yards and the TD; it was his fourth 100-yard game of the season, which he finishes with 75 receptions. He and Mike Williams, who had nine catches for 112 yards and a score Monday, should form one of the nation's best receiving duos next season.
While Stoudt isn't a pro prospect, Clemson senior defensive linemen Vic Beasley, Corey Crawford and Grady Jarrett and senior linebacker Stephone Anthony are. Each played well, though Anthony missed the first half after being ejected in the second half of the regular-season finale against South Carolina. Beasley had a sack on OU's second possession and Jarrett forced a fumble late in the first half.
Oklahoma offensive tackles Tyrus Thompson and Daryl Williams and guard Adam Shead are considered NFL prospects, but they struggled to create running lanes in the first half, which ended with Clemson leading 27-0.
The victory gives Clemson (10-3) its fourth consecutive 10-win season, while the Sooners (8-5) lost as many as five games for just the second time this century. The Sooners had won at least 10 games in each of the past four seasons, seven times in eight seasons and 12 times in 14 seasons.
Since getting eviscerated 70-33 by West Virginia in the Orange Bowl after the 2011 season, Clemson has won three postseason games in a row, beating LSU, Ohio State and OU in the process.