Clem­son stays per­fect, keeps ACC crown

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL -

Trevor Lawrence threw four touch­down passes, three to Tee Hig­gins, and No. 3 Clem­son won its fifth con­sec­u­tive At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence ti­tle with a 62-17 vic­tory over No. 23 Vir­ginia on Satur­day night.

The de­fend­ing na­tional cham­pion Tigers (13-0) have won 28 games in a row and head to the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off with chance for a third crown in four years.

And while Vir­ginia (9-4) and quar­ter­back Bryce Perkins put forth a game plan that caused the Tigers to sweat early on, there was no stop­ping Clem­son’s daz­zling set of ex­pe­ri­enced play­mak­ers led by Lawrence and Hig­gins on the way to ACC cham­pi­onship game records for points and yards (621).

Lawrence set an ACC ti­tle-game record with his four touch­down throws and had 302 yards pass­ing, his sec­ond best total this sea­son, and com­pleted 16 of 22 passes be­fore com­ing out in the third quar­ter.

Hig­gins fin­ished with 182 yards re­ceiv­ing yards and the three TDs, both bests in ACC cham­pi­onship game play.

Travis Eti­enne had 114 yards, his eighth game over 100 yards this sea­son.

Vir­ginia and Perkins ap­peared to have a game plan to com­pete with the Tigers, even with­out lead­ing re­ceiver Joe Reed out due to in­jury.

Ole Miss hires Kif­fin: Lane Kif­fin is back in the SEC, tak­ing over at Mis­sis­sippi.

Kif­fin and the Rebels made the an­nounce­ment Satur­day af­ter Florida At­lantic de­feated UAB in the Con­fer­ence USA cham­pi­onship game, the Owls’ sec­ond league ti­tle in his three sea­sons. It had been col­lege foot­ball’s worst-kept se­cret since Fri­day, and the schools ended all doubt Satur­day af­ter­noon by con­ced­ing that the deal has been made.

Kif­fin went 26-13 in his three sea­sons at Florida At­lantic and is 61-34 in parts of eight sea­sons as a col­lege head coach at Ten­nessee, USC and FAU.

Kif­fin, 44, takes over a Mis­sis­sippi pro­gram that hasn’t pro­duced a win­ning sea­son since go­ing 10-3 in 2015 and win­ning the Sugar Bowl, cap­ping a string of four straight bowl ap­pear­ances. The Rebels went 4-8 this sea­son.

Kif­fin re­places Matt Luke, a Mis­sis­sippi alum who was fired Sun­day af­ter go­ing 15-21 in three sea­sons.

Pac-12 ti­tle game: CJ Verdell ran for 208 yards and broke open the game with two long touch­down runs in the fourth quar­ter, and No. 13 Ore­gon spoiled No. 5 Utah’s play­off hopes with a 37-15 vic­tory in the Pac-12 cham­pi­onship game Fri­day night in Santa Clara, Calif.

The Utes (11-2) came into the game hop­ing to make a case for one of the four play­off spots with a con­fer­ence ti­tle but in­stead got over­matched by Ore­gon (11-2) and lost their sec­ond straight Pac-12 cham­pi­onship game.

They fell into a 20-0 hole in the first half and then gave up a 70-yard TD run to Verdell af­ter cut­ting the deficit to 23-15.

AAC ti­tle game: An­to­nio Gib­son caught a 6-yard touch­down pass from Brady White with 1:14 left and No. 17 Mem­phis de­feated No. 20 Cincin­nati 29-24 in the Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game Satur­day in Mem­phis, Tenn.

The vic­tory marked the first time Mem­phis (12-1) has won the AAC ti­tle in its third straight con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game. The Tigers now wait for an in­vi­ta­tion to the Cot­ton Bowl as the high­est-ranked Group of Five team.

Eight days af­ter beat­ing the Bearcats 34-24 at home in the reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale, Mem­phis ral­lied for an­other win.

Cincin­nati quar­ter­back Des­mond Rid­der, who did not play last week against Mem­phis, passed for 233 yards and ran for 113 more. He also had a 15-yard touch­down in the first half.

The Bearcats dropped to 10-3.

Moun­tain West ti­tle game: Jay­lon Hen­der­son threw for 220 yards and two touch­downs and ran for an­other score to lead No. 19 Boise State to a 31-10 vic­tory over Hawaii in the Moun­tain West cham­pi­onship game Satur­day in Boise, Idaho.

Boise State (12-1) won its sec­ond con­fer­ence ti­tle in three years, beat­ing Hawaii again this sea­son af­ter win­ning the Oct. 12th meet­ing 59-37. Af­ter rolling up 518 yards of of­fense in the first game, the Bron­cos leaned on their de­fense in the re­match.

The Bron­cos made two de­fen­sive stands in­side the 5, once in the sec­ond quar­ter and an­other early in the third.

Hawaii (9-5) was mak­ing its first ap­pear­ance in the ti­tle game.

Sun Belt ti­tle game: Dar­ryn­ton Evans scored three touch­downs and No. 21 Ap­palachian State re­peated as Sun Belt Con­fer­ence cham­pi­ons with a 45-38 vic­tory over Louisiana-Lafayette on Satur­day in Boone, N.C.

Evans won the game’s MVP for the sec­ond straight sea­son.

The Moun­taineers (12-1) racked up 416 yards on of­fense.

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