Kelly Bryant got off to a record-setting start in Clemson’s dominant 38-3 win against Miami in the ACC championship game Saturday night in Charlotte.
The junior, who is in his first season as the starting quarterback, completed his first 15 passes of the game as the Tigers jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first 18 minutes.
Bryant’s 15 consecutive completions breaks Deshaun Watson’s ACC championship game record of 13 straight completions, which was set two years ago against North Carolina.
“We're at a point now where I mean, Kelly has answered all the questions,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “Early part of the year, every week it was a question. Well, there's really not any more questions.”
Bryant also rushed for a touchdown in the first half, as did running backs Travis Etienne and Adam Choice.
Bryant was 23-for-29 passing for 252 yards and a touchdown pass before giving way to Hunter Johnson in the fourth quarter with Clemson leading 38-0.
“I just think that everybody was just having fun out there. Offense was clicking. Defense was playing really well. Special teams. Flying around, making plays,” Bryant said. “It was just great to see everybody was playing, everybody on the same page, everybody in a rhythm.”
Clemson held Miami to 64 yards of offense in the first half as the Hurricanes averaged less than 2.5 yards per play.
Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier was 6-for-12 passing for 27 yards. The Tigers outgained Miami 231-64 in the opening two quarters.
Clemson held the Hurricanes to 214 total yards, and Miami did not get on the board until making a field goal in the fourth quarter.
“We just really had the mentality that we never were satisfied,” defensive end Christian Wilkins said. “Just had to finish the whole time. Tried to stay locked in. Even when we were rotating guys, putting the younger guys in, just kept encouraging them. Those are all meaningful snaps to them and everything. We stayed locked in all the way throughout.”
NO CHAIN NEEDED
Clemson forced three turnovers in the third quarter with two of them created by senior cornerback Ryan Carter.
The Georgia native forced a fumble, which was recovered by Dorian O’Daniel, and picked off Rosier on Miami’s next drive.
Kendall Joseph also intercepted a pass in the third quarter, setting up a 27-yard touchdown pass by Bryant to Deon Cain.
“I’m just locked in and trying to prepare well,” Carter said. “I think guys are just having fun on defense, just trying to take turns making plays, and I’m having fun just maybe being in the right place at the right time.”
▪ Clemson became only the second team to score multiple times in the first quarter against Miami this season as Travis Etienne had a 4-yard touchdown run and Bryant had an 11-yard touchdown run in the opening period.
▪ Clemson’s first drive of the game was a 10-play, 68-yard drive resulting in a touchdown. The Tigers have scored a touchdown on eight opening drives this season.
▪ Hunter Renfrow had 41 receiving yards on the first drive, good for the seventh highest total for Renfrow in a game this season.
▪ Ray-Ray McCloud put the ball on the ground twice early, muffing a punt and then fumbling after a long reception, but he also topped the 100-yard receiving mark for the third time in his career and the second time this season.