MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The Oklahoma Sooners were fooled by a fake punt and stuffed on fourth down when they tried some trickery of their own.

And in the second half, Clemson was simply the stronger team.

High-scoring Oklahoma and quarterback Baker Mayfield were shut out in the second half Thursday and lost to Clemson in the Orange Bowl national semifinal game, 37-17.

For the second year in a row, the Sooners (11-2) ended their season with a loss to Clemson. They were embarrassed 40-6 by the Tigers last year in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

"This championship drive, talent doesn't win the game," OU defensive end Eric Striker said. "It's the will. They had that edge and a will about them in the second half."

Mayfield threw for 311 yards but was sacked five times, and threw two interceptions in Clemson territory in the second half. He wobbled off the field after making a tackle following his second interception and spent the closing minutes on the sideline.

Mayfield wasn't the only Sooner unable to match the Tigers' muscle. On one run, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson kept churning for an additional 5 yards while dragging along 291-pound tackle Matthew Romar, who had a handful of the quarterback's jersey.

In the third quarter, the Tigers really began to flex their muscle. Zac Brooks had Tigers fans roaring when he ran over Sooners safety Ahmad Thomas on a sweep. Oklahoma running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon were shaken up by jarring hits. Wayne Gallman knocked off Oklahoma safety Steven Parker's helmet fighting for extra yardage.

"They played a more physical way than we did," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said.

The defeat was the Sooners' first since they were beaten by rival Texas in October. Since then they had averaged 52 points a game.

But Clemson outscored Oklahoma 21-0 during a 15-minute span in the second half to take control. The elusive Watson gave the Sooners fits and finished with 145 yards rushing.

"We just didn't tackle," Striker said. "Guys were in position to make a play. That's what hurt the most."

The Tigers (14-0) advance to the championship game Jan. 11, when they'll face Alabama, which defeated Michigan State 38-0 in the Cotton Bowl semifinal.

It was another December disappointment for Mayfield, who voiced his displeasure with not being invited to New York as a Heisman finalist. He finished behind Alabama's Derrick Henry, Stanford's Christian McCaffrey and Watson.

He left without talking to reporters. Stoops said Clemson's pass rush made Mayfield's job difficult.

"You have to compliment them giving him struggles," Stoops said. "At times he was scrambling around and waiting for something to come open."

The Sooners led 7-3 and had Clemson pinned inside the 5 early in the second quarter, but on the first play Watson broke free on the read-option for 46 yards.

Later on the same drive, a fake punt fooled the Sooners as Clemson's Christian Wilkins, a 315-pound defensive tackle who plays on special teams, slipped behind two defenders on fourth-and-4 and caught a 31-yard pass from punter Andy Teasdall, giving the Tigers a first down at the 13.

"We go over all kinds of fake punts every week," Stoops said. "We were late getting to the guy down the boundary — it was our lack of execution."

Clemson scored two plays later for a 10-7 lead.

The Sooners trailed 23-17 when they were stopped on fourth-and-1 at the Clemson 30. Perine took a direct snap, ran up the middle and was stuffed for no gain. That was Oklahoma's last gasp — Clemson scored another TD four plays later.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.