CFB Bowl Recap: Notre Dame wins thriller over South Carolina while Tennessee overcomes Clemson in the Orange Bowl

Dec 30, 2022; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers linebacker Wade Woodaz (17) sacks Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Joe Milton III (7) during the first half of the 2022 Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

CFB Bowl Recap: Notre Dame wins thriller over South Carolina while Tennessee overcomes Clemson in the Orange Bowl


No. 21 Notre Dame 45, No. 19 South Carolina 38

What a phenomenal game this was. From the second quarter on, this game went back and forth between two powerhouses with plenty of explosive plays. The Gamecocks got out to a 21-7 lead after the first quarter before being outscored in every quarter from then on. For Notre Dame, this game was about quarterback Tyler Buchner who totaled five touchdowns for the contest. However, it came with its fair share of mistakes, as he also threw three interceptions. Buchner finished 18-of-33 for 274 yards with three touchdowns and three picks. He also ran for two touchdowns on 61 yards rushing. He made explosive play after explosive play giving Notre Dame a much-needed jolt after going down early in the game. The Irish led in time of possession by more than 13 minutes and outran the Gamecocks by almost 200 yards. Audric Estime and Logan Diggs led the Irish to 264 rushing yards as they controlled the game from the ground all night. Notre Dame won in the final minutes of the game on a touchdown pass from Buchner to tight end Mitchell Evans, who had not caught a pass this season prior to this game. He finished with three catches for 39 yards and a score in place of the absent star tight end Michael Mayer. The Irish finish the season strong after starting weak, taking down a team that was riding high from two major wins.

Despite a tough loss, South Carolina proved they were for real. They were outgained by 200 yards on the game and still managed to come within minutes of stealing the game. The Gamecocks really struggled running the football, which put a ton of pressure on Spencer Rattler. Rattler finished 29-of-46 for 246 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Xavier Legette was his biggest beneficiary, with seven catches for 78 yards and two scores. Rattler did what he could, but South Carolina’s defense stepped up in a big way with two pick-sixes, including a 100-yard interception returned for a touchdown by O’Donnell Fortune, tying the game halfway through the final quarter. Though the turnovers kept South Carolina in the game, the Gamecocks could not stop the big plays and struggled containing the run. The game was statistically lopsided but proved that running the football and stopping the run is vital.


No. 6 Tennessee 31, No. 7 Clemson 14

This game was about Tennessee showing how deep they are as a football team. The Volunteers were missing three offensive stars (Hendon Hooker, Jalin Hyatt, and Cedric Tillman) and still found a way to produce in a big way against a solid Clemson defense. It was a battle of backups, and Tennessee had the edge in what could have been seen as an unexpected outcome. Joe Milton was outstanding, not turning the ball over and producing on big plays. Milton finished 19-of-28 for 251 yards and three touchdowns to three different receivers. He grew comfortable with wide receiver Squirrel White who ended up with nine catches for 108 yards and a score. Bru McCoy and Ramel Keyton each caught a touchdown in the game. The Vols ran the football well, with Jaylen Wright and Jabari Small totaling 124 yards on the ground with a score on the night. The game can be viewed as a bit unorthodox when it comes to philosophy since Tennessee held a serious disadvantage in time of possession and did not do well on third down. However, they made the play when they needed to and got the win. The offense was not nearly as explosive as it was when Hendon Hooker was under center, but they consistently showed glimpses of it all night.

The Tigers struggled to find momentum offensively, in part because they were unable to finish on field goals. B.T. Potter, who has been very reliable for a college kicker, was just two-of-five on field goals missing his first three. Because they played most of the game down, Cade Klubnik was forced into a lot of passing situations. He finished 30-of-54 for 320 yards with two interceptions, including the pick in the end zone to seal the game. With that said, Clemson simply made more mistakes. They outgained Tennessee and controlled time of possession but failed to execute too many times. The only source of offense that Clemson could find consistently came from running back Will Shipley, who ran for 72 yards on 17 carries. It was a tough game for Clemson on both sides, especially in the second half. The halftime lead was 14-3 for Tennessee, but the adjustments did not seem to come in an effective enough fashion. Tennessee comes home victorious in the Orange Bowl as Clemson looks ahead to next season with Klubnik under center.

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