Winning on Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl was so easy, it almost seemed like there was no grandeur in it. Four games, 94 yards, touchdown, win, hold flights to New Orleans. It had all the 30-second TV ad drama.
Clemson general Trevor Lawrence emerges as hero at Tigers’ College Football Playoff semifinal win over Ohio State Should have required anything heroic, no? Instead, it looked like LeBron James in a layup line.
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Layup 1: Lawrence falls back and finds wideout Justyn Ross for an easy 11-yard gain.
Layup 2: Lawrence mixes for another 11, hitting hard.
Layup 3: Lawrence swims through the rush to the left, resigns and sees Amari Rodgers breaking to the right. Lawrence snaps his back foot, Rodgers traps him, beats All-American cornerback Jeff Okudah and goes on to gain 38 yards.
Slam dunk: Lawrence holds the ball in his hip and imitates it as he runs, then stops and throws almost a jump past star running back Travis Etienne. It comes in the middle of OSU’s defense and carries safety Jordan Fuller the last 3 yards in the end zone for the score that makes Clemson 29, Ohio State 23.
It took 78 seconds.
“There were some huge games in this game that could have gone one way or another,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day told ESPN after the game. No one made the decisive move.
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In the first 12 Clemson properties, seven of which ended with spots, the Tigers averaged 5.57 yards per game. In the end, the average was 23.5 meters. The state of Ohio made no resistance when it mattered most.
Of course, there was an overriding reason for this, and several subjects.
– Lawrence had performed so brilliantly at various points against the Buckeyes that they came into the final possession aware of what he could do to hurt them and feared every last bit of it. Lawrence never missed a game as a freshman in college, and he certainly won for Clemson.
– Leaves the ball fast: This was Ross’ first touchdown.
– Runs inflatable, loud and authoritarian enough to cheat a 67-meter touchdown dash in the first half: That was there in his race for 11 yards.
– He was moving in the pocket and moving quickly through his passes: This was obvious to Rodgers.
Lawrence’s 107 home runs were an advantage over the course of the game: The Buckeyes then focused their attention as Etienne fell behind and faced so little movement after winning the final Lawrence Risk.
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“We had saved this little action-to-action on Travis throughout the game,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told ESPN. “They just felt it was the right time to call it there, and it hit.”
If it eventually leads to another national championship for Clemson, then Lawrence’s decisive move in a game that saw the Tigers overcome – and, in many cases, surpass – will remember being so epic and catchy. It wasn’t either. It was ruthless and effective.
Even the message Lawrence said he gave to his teammates before taking the field – “Let’s get it, we’re built for it” – was not exactly William Wallace’s “Freedom” speech from “Braveheart”.
None of this makes for a huge story. It definitely came to an end.
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