2014 Russell Athletic Bowl final score: 3 things we learned from Clemson’s 40-6 rout
The Tigers destroyed the Sooners in Monday’s main event.
The Clemson Tigers laid an historic beatdown on Oklahoma in Monday night’s Russell Athletic Bowl, demolishing the Sooners 40-6. Clemson scored on its first play from scrimmage, a 65-yard touchdown pass from Cole Stoudt to Atarvis Scott, and never let up. By halftime, the Tigers were ahead by 27 and the game was effectively over.
The 34-point margin was just two points shy of the biggest bowl loss in Oklahoma history, and one score short of the Russell Athletic Bowl record margin of victory. It got so bad that the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s office was sympathizing with local drinkers:
— Oklahoma Co. Sheriff (@OkCountySheriff) December 30, 2014
The top-ranked Clemson defense, coached by former Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables, nearly handed Bob Stoops his first shutout in 16 seasons as head coach at Oklahoma. As it was, the Tigers held the Sooners to just 275 yards of total offense, 205 yards below Oklahoma’s season average. Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight completed just 17 of his 37 pass attempts for a paltry 103 yards. Knight also threw three interceptions, including a first-quarter pass that was returned 47 yards for a touchdown by Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware. Freshman halfback Samaje Perine ran for 134 yards, but most of his yardage came long after the game had been decided.
Three things we learned
1. We might have underestimated Cole Stoudt (and the rest of his offense). Stoudt, a senior quarterback who spent the season battling freshman Deshaun Watson for snaps, lit up the Sooner defense, throwing for 319 yards and three touchdowns and running for another score. Scott caught eight of Stoudt’s passes, racking up 114 yards. Sophomore Mike Williams matched his career high with eight catches, including a 26-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter. And while the Tigers were typically shaky in the run game, it didn’t much matter.
2. Dabo Swinney is building his legend. Swinney won the head job at Clemson by salvaging the Tigers’ 2008 season, but was on shaky ground at first. That ground is completely solid now. Clemson won its third consecutive bowl game Monday night, and finishes its fourth consecutive season with ten wins for the first time since 1987-90. Swinney is the first coach in Clemson history to pull off that feat — the previous four-year run was split between Danny Ford and Ken Hatfield — and the Tigers look loaded again for 2015. Most impressive: Swinney did it without offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who left to become head coach at SMU during bowl preparations.
3. Bob Stoops’ seat is on fire. It was another disappointing season for the Sooners, who finish 8-5 despite being ranked in the top five of the preseason polls. Oklahoma finished with five losses for just the third time in Stoops’s 16 years in Norman, OU will be unranked in the postseason polls for the first time since 2009, and the Sooners’ fourth place finish in the Big 12 is a career low. It will be a long, angry offseason for Oklahoma fans, and the longtime coach will be directly in the firing line for that criticism.