Tennessee tops Clemson in Orange Bowl to cap greatest 12 months since ’01
“MVP!” They chanted, again and again. For good cause.
Milton, who regained the beginning job quickly after his shut good friend Hendon Hooker Hit late within the 12 months, main Tennessee to certainly one of its greatest moments in a long time.
He accomplished 19 of 28 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns and No. 6 Tennessee by no means trailed en path to a 31-14 victory over No. 10 Clemson Within the orange bowl.
“I belief myself, I belief my teaching and I let it occur,” Milton mentioned.
The Volunteers, who have not had an 11-win season since 2001, completed 11-2 and capped a 12 months through which they misplaced. Alabama, LSU and Clemson, this system that has received six of the seven most up-to-date Faculty Soccer Playoff nationwide titles.
“With all of the adversity this group has confronted of their careers, what they’ve achieved within the final 23 months, I could not be prouder of a bunch of people,” mentioned Tennessee coach Josh Heupel, who has received a nationwide title. Oklahoma Orange Bowl participant. “These gamers, our employees, Vol Nation, everybody has been alongside for the experience.”
Cade Klubnick, making his first begin for Clemson, accomplished 30 of 54 passes for 320 yards with two interceptions. However Clemson (11-3) saved developing empty on prime scoring alternatives; The Tigers entered Tennessee territory on 9 of their first 10 drives and transformed these journeys into simply two area objectives.
Clemson completed with 484 yards on 101 performs and nonetheless misplaced by 17.
“You aren’t getting factors for yards,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney mentioned. “The identify of the purpose of the sport. … You must end and execute, and we did not do this.”
Klubnik ran in from 4 yards out to place Clemson inside 21-14 with 10:01 left, however Milton related with Keaton for a 46-yard rating on the subsequent Tennessee possession. The Volunteers intercepted Klubnik on a desperation fourth-down heave a few minute later, nearly sealing the consequence.
“If solely we might ship these seniors off with a win,” Klubnik mentioned. “I believe we gave it all the things we had till the final play.”
On this very orange Orange Bowl — each groups have it as their main shade — it was the Tennessee shade that stood out. Hooker was there, having flown in a few week earlier to be together with his group and assist Milton put together for the sport.
“Blood cannot deliver us nearer,” mentioned Milton. “It is my brother finally.”
Milton opened the scoring with a 16-yard go to McCoy and Small’s 2-yard rush made it 14-0 with 9:03 left within the half. The Vols’ offense, which led the nation in yards and factors per sport this 12 months, wasn’t at its greatest, however it did not should be.
Clemson had the ball seven instances within the first half, obtained into Tennessee territory all seven instances and reached the Vols 25 4 instances.
In some way, it ended up being simply three factors.
Six different possessions: Pushed by a stuffed pretend area objective Drew Sweeney, son of Clemson coach Dabo Swinney; a punt; Missed three area objectives BT Potter, essentially the most prolific kicker in class historical past; And a brutal closing drive when Klubnik was tackled by a keeper with 6 seconds left. Clemson was out of timeouts, could not get a area objective unit down the sphere and trailed 14-3 at halftime.
“Lots of missed alternatives,” Dabo Swinney mentioned.
Potter opened the second half with a no-problem 40-yarder, his 73rd profession area objective, a college report for the Tigers. However White caught a 14-yard go with 5 seconds left within the third, giving the Vols a 21-6 lead heading into the fourth.
When it was over, Milton took one knee and tucked the sport ball below his left arm and simply did not let it go. He’ll enter 2023 as Tennessee’s projected starter and expectations shall be excessive for a program that went 20-27 within the 4 seasons earlier than Heupel’s arrival, went 7-6 below him final 12 months and now received an Orange Bowl.
“It has been a enjoyable climb,” Heupel mentioned. “Good outcomes are but to come back.”
Tennessee might climb a spot or two relying on what occurs within the Faculty Soccer Playoff video games. It could be the Vols’ greatest end in at the very least 20 years; They had been No. 4 in 2001 and No. 1 in 1998.
Clemson shall be a part of the ultimate vote for the twelfth consecutive 12 months, extending the longest such run in class historical past. The Tigers had been in six consecutive season-ending AP polls from 1986 to 1991.
The Related Press contributed to this report.
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