Bryant’s career night leads Tigers to dominant win
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Throughout the week the talking heads and football pundits discussed the possibility of No. 1 Clemson making the College Football Playoff with a close loss to seventh-ranked Miami in the ACC Championship Game.
However, the Tigers obliterated that possibility as well as the Coastal Division Champion Hurricanes in their 38-3 win, locking themselves into another College Football Playoff.
Clemson (12-1) needed a rapid start to be successful against a team that feeds off momentum. It did just that scoring touchdowns on each of its first three drives to take a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Junior quarterback Kelly Bryant had an outstanding performance being named ACC Championship Player of the Game as he led his team to its third consecutive ACC Championship and inevitably a third consecutive appearance in the College Football Playoff.
Bryant’s evolution in the last few games proved even more obvious Saturday night as he showed both the improved confidence in his arm and his decision making. He completed several passes in tight windows while stepping up in the pocket to make a play.
The Calhoun Falls, S.C, native put together a record setting first quarter completing each of his first 15 passes. The previous record for consecutive completions in an ACC Championship was set by Deshaun Watson in 2015 with 13 against North Carolina.
In recent weeks Bryant has been criticized by some for his inability to throw the deep ball. In the last three weeks, he has completed several passes for greater than 20 yards including four on Saturday night.
Bryant had a career day against the Hurricanes, completing 23-of-29 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown without turning the ball over. He tied a career-high in completions a week ago with 23.
He claimed a pair of touchdowns, one on the ground from 11 yards out the other a 27-yard touchdown pass to Deon Cain. Bryant has a rushing and passing touchdown in four games this season.
The win likely sends Clemson to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans for the first time since 1969 and probably keep the Tigers in first place in the College Football Playoff Poll.
The first-year starter’s progress since his first game has been nothing shy of remarkable. Entering the season not many people gave Bryant any credit, saying he would not be the Clemson starter but he has done nothing but prove critics wrong since his first start.
As Clemson moves into the College Football Playoff for the third-consecutive season it will need Bryant to continue his current trajectory for a shot at repeating as champions.