Every play matters but some factor into the game’s outcome more than others. Here are the five plays that told the story of the Capital One Orange Bowl.
No. 1 Clemson 37, No. 4 OU 17
Play No. 1: Personal foul on Flowers
There are always plays that can be circled and wonder how the game would have transpired had that not happened.
In talking Orange Bowl, this run ranks right near the top of the list.
OU was up 7-3 late in the first quarter and was still in rhythm on offense. It was first-and-10 at the Clemson 30 yard line, and Joe Mixon had rushed for three yards.
But before second-and-seven could occur, fullback Dimitri Flowers was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that eventually took the Sooners out of field goal range.
Flowers was seen clapping in front of the Clemson defense and most figured some words were exchanged. Flowers said after the game he didn’t say anything.
Regardless, the Sooners lost their cool often this season and this was the first real time where it felt like it came back to bite them.
Play No. 2: Swinney into bag of tricks
Special teams came up for the Tigers in a major way but no play showed it more than this one. On the first drive of the second quarter, OU was still winning 7-3.
Clemson faced a fourth-and-four at the OU 44 yard line and was set to punt after Jordan Leggett dropped a sure first down pass.
But Dabo Swinney has given punter Andy Teasdall the freedom to read the play and decide whether to kick to fake the punt.
It backfired against North Carolina and worked beautifully vs. the Sooners. Teasdall rolled right and then threw it across the field to a wide open Christian Wilkins for a 31-yard gain.
The Tigers scored two plays later to take their first lead of the game.
Play No. 3: OU fails in short yardage
This is a combo play here because one led to the other. Clemson took a 23-17 lead midway through the third quarter, but the Sooners were in business again.
OU faced a third-and-three from the Clemson 32 yard line and quarterback Baker Mayfield found Michiah Quick on a screen. Blocking was set up, but Quick hesitated and was dropped short of the first down.
On the ensuing fourth-and-1, offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley called a direct snap to Samaje Perine. But with Perine not a 100 percent with an ankle injury suffered earlier in the quarter, he was stuff at the line for no gain.
Play No. 4: Tigers make Sooners pay
OU’s defense teetered on the edge all game, and it finally came back to bite them on the next drive after stopping Perine.
Deshaun Watson was able to thread the needle to Hunter Renfrow for a 35-yard touchdown. Safety Steven Parker attempted to get back in the play by deflecting the pass or picking it off. When that failed, all Renfrow had to do was turn up field and race to the end zone.
It made the score 30-17 and the first real feeling the end was near for the Sooners.
Play No. 5: Double KO for Mayfield
The Sooners last charge was snuffed away with an interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Mayfield appeared to have Durron Neal wide open in the end zone for several seconds, but he couldn’t properly set his feet.
By the time he did, he didn’t put enough zip on the pass and it was picked off by Ben Boulware. Boulware returned it, and as Mayfield was diving with his head and shoulder to make the tackle, took a shot to the face from Boulware’s knee.
There was no more magic left for Mayfield and for the Sooners. Mayfield left the game, perhaps with a concussion, and didn’t address the media following the game.