Although the rosters from Oklahoma and Clemson aren’t stocked with South Florida talent, one local was in the starting lineup for Thursday’s Capital One Orange Bowl.
Oklahoma’s Ahmad Thomas — a junior safety from Miami Central High — started for the Sooners.
Thomas had one of the biggest plays of the first quarter when he got in front of Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett in the end zone and almost intercepted Deshaun Watson's third-down pass.
The Tigers had to settle for a field goal, although they would make up for it later on in a 37-17 victory.
For Clemson, former University School standout Richard Yeargin came in during the first quarter when starting defensive end Shaq Lawson left the game with an injury.
Lawson, an All-American, did not return to the game.
THIS AND THAT
▪ Thursday’s semifinal was declared a sellout by the Orange Bowl, although there were pockets of empty seats in a few of the corners and end zones — and plenty of cheap tickets available.
At kickoff, tickets outside the stadium were going for $25, although that price went down once the game began.
On StubHub, there were club seats on sale for $9 each, with other tickets being offered for the price of a decent medium-sized pizza.
▪ Thursday’s game was the 82nd Orange Bowl Classic and the final one — presumptively — to be held completely out in the elements.
As press box announcer Jay Rokeach said, Thursday’s game kicked off “under sunny skies.”
Next year’s game will be a night kickoff under a new canopy.
Soon after the Dolphins play host to the Patriots on Sunday to end their 2015 season, work will begin on roofing, which is the second phase in the stadium’s $400 million renovation.
Large cranes are set up in the stadium parking lot, with the roof tresses ready to go off 27th Avenue.
The first 62 Orange Bowl games were played at the open-air Orange Bowl in Miami before it was moved to Miami Gardens in 1996.
The 1999 Orange Bowl between Florida and Syracuse was played at its original home because of a conflict with a Dolphins’ playoff game.
▪ Prior to Thursday, Clemson and Oklahoma had met just four times since 1963 — although the Orange Bowl marked the second consecutive bowl matchup between the teams. Last year, Clemson beat Oklahoma 40-6 at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando.
▪ The ACC’s current lineup of teams improved to 21-22 in the Orange Bowl, which includes Miami going 6-3 before joining the conference.
Georgia Tech won last year’s game, 49-34 over Mississippi State.
▪ Oklahoma, which came south plenty of times to represent the Big 8 in the old Orange Bowl, is now 12-8 in the game, and the current Big 12 dropped to 16-12 in the game.
Nebraska, 8-9 in the Miami bowl game, left the conference for the Big Ten in 2010 while Colorado went to the Pac-12.
The Huskers haven’t been to the Orange Bowl since beating Peyton Manning and Tennessee in 1998.
Colorado hasn’t returned since beating Notre Dame in 1991 to win a share of the 1990 national championship.