American football-Clemson bulldoze Ohio to set up Alabama rematch

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 01, 2017 12:45 AM

(Reuters) - Clemson destroyed Ohio State in a dominating 31-0 victory on Saturday to set up a rematch against Alabama in the College Football national championship game.

Deshaun Watson passed for 259 yards and a touchdown and ran for two scores as Clemson cruised.

Watson scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter and threw a 30-yard touchdown pass late the second quarter to give No. 2 Clemson (13-1) a 17-0 halftime lead. He put the game out of reach on a 7-yard touchdown run with 2:06 left in the third quarter.

Watson completed 23 of 36 passes with two interceptions and rushed for 57 yards. He had 405 yards passing and 478 yards total offense in a 45-40 loss to Alabama in the 2015 national title game. The rematch is Jan. 9 in Tampa, Fla.

Ohio State was shut out for the first time since a 28-0 loss at Michigan on Nov. 20, 1993.

Ohio State (11-2) missed two field goal attempts in the first quarter and never found an offensive rhythm while finishing with a season-low 215 yards total offense, including 81 yards rushing. The Buckeyes had 111 total yards through three quarters.

Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett completed 19 of 33 passes for 127 yards and two interceptions. H-back Curtis Samuel, the focal point of the Ohio State offense, had six carries for 67 yards and nine receptions for 43 yards.

Clemson running back Wayne Gallman had 18 carries for 85 yards rushing and wide receiver Mike Williams, projected to be the first wide receiver taken in the 2017 NFL Draft, had six catches for 96 yards.

Gallman's 7-yard touchdown run for a 31-0 lead was Clemson's school-record 72nd touchdown this season.

Clemson's 470 total yards were the most against Ohio State this season. Wisconsin had 450 in an overtime loss on Oct. 15.

Watson threw two interceptions in the first half, but Ohio State capitalized on neither and Clemson took a 17-0 lead into halftime. Tyler Durbin missed 47 and 48-yard field goal attempts on the Buckeyes' second and third possessions, the second coming after Greg Huegel's 45-yard field goal gave Clemson a 3-0 lead.

Watson scored on a 1-yard run to cap a 70-yard drive after the second miss for a 10-0 lead.

Watson's 30-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Fuller capped an 83-yard drive for a 17-0 edge with 2:21 remaining in the first half.

The Buckeyes had not trailed by at least 17 points at halftime since Wisconsin had a 21-3 lead in a 31-18 victory on Oct. 16, 2010.

(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)