University of Miami

Hurricanes crash in ACC Championship Game, await Orange Bowl bid

Miami Hurricanes running back Travis Homer (24) carries the ball against the Clemson Tigers in the ACC Championship Game.
Miami Hurricanes running back Travis Homer (24) carries the ball against the Clemson Tigers in the ACC Championship Game. adiaz@miamiherald.com

The Miami Hurricanes waited 13 years to get to the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Championship Game.

The Clemson Tigers waited less than five minutes to begin teaching them how painful an experience it could be.

Top-ranked Clemson (12-1) roared to an early three-touchdown lead Saturday at Bank of America Stadium to win its third consecutive ACC title 38-3 and reaffirm its national dominance when the College Football Playoff rankings reveal Sunday the four teams that will head to the playoffs.

“Congratulations to Clemson,’’ UM coach Mark Richt said. “They thoroughly whipped us...Clemson obviously is as good as anybody in America. ...We have some guys that can play against anybody in America, but I don’t know if we have enough of those guys yet.

“This team did something that’s never been done before here at the U. This whole rise is a learning process. Certainly tonight, we’ll learn some things. We’ll understand a little better what it might take to become a champion in this league.’’

The Tigers’ thrashing was nearly the first shutout of Miami since none other than Clemson humiliated the Hurricanes 58-0 in 2015 in the worst UM loss in history. Michael Badgley’s 22-yard field goal with 3:29 left in the game gave UM its only points.

Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt speaks to the media after the University of Miami Hurricanes were defeated by the Clemson Tigers 38-3 in the ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017.

The No. 7 Hurricanes (10-2), who will plummet in the rankings, nonetheless await an Orange Bowl berth. The hometown bowl must take the highest ranked ACC team not in the playoff.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,’’ Richt said. “I mean, before the year started, if you said we’re going to play for the championship and get a chance to play in the Orange Bowl, we would not have been too happy about not winning the championship, but dang sure excited about the opportunity to play in the Orange Bowl, one of the classic bowl games in America.’’

Said receiver Braxton Berrios, who had seven catches for 51 yards: “It’s one of the premier games in the country. Obviously, we got a shot to do something more [and] we came up short. But the Orange Bowl, it’s a home game. I think that will be really exciting for the team.’’

Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt and wide receiver Braxton Berrios speak to the media about Berrios season and playing in the Orange Bowl after the University of Miami Hurricanes is defeated by the Clemson Tigers 38-3 in the ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. on Saturday, December 2, 2017.

UM’s possible opponents: Alabama (11-1), Auburn (9-3), Penn State (10-2) Wisconsin (12-1) and Ohio State (11-2).

Right about now, any of them might seem intimidating for a Hurricanes team that got manhandled in front of 74, 372 fans, several thousand of them rooting for Miami.

It didn’t take long — translation: immediately — for the defending national champions, impersonating an NFL team, to exert their dominance as they got off to a rip-roaring start.

Miami could do little about it.

Miami Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier talks to the media after ACC title game loss to Clemson.

After one quarter, Clemson led 14-0 — the largest first-quarter lead in ACC Championship Game history and only the second team (Virginia did it last month) to register multiple first-quarter scores against Miami this season.

The 14 points came on a 4-yard rush by Travis Etienne to culminate a 10-play, 68-yard drive and an 11-yard keeper by quarterback Kelly Bryant to cap a seven-play, 71-yard drive.

The Tigers made it 21-0 early in the second quarter when running back Adam Choice plunged one yard to culminate a nine-play, 41-yard drive.

At halftime, Clemson’s three-touchdown lead was the largest in ACC title game history.

Miami Hurricanes linebacker Shaq Quarterman talks to the media after ACC title game loss to Clemson.

Bryant and his receivers got off to a superb start, with Bryant connecting on his first 15 passes, another ACC Championship Game record.

Bryant, who was replaced by Hunter Johnson with 14:20 left in the game, completed 23 of 29 passes for 252 yards. He also ran for an 11-yard score.

“Everybody was just having fun out there,’’ Bryant said. “Offense was clicking. Defense was playing really well. Special team. Flying around, making plays. It was just great to see.’’

The Tigers were 7 of 7 on third-down conversions before Miami stopped them.

Miami Hurricanes offensive tackle Kc McDermott talks to the media after ACC title game loss to Clemson.

UM quarterback Malik Rosier completed 14 of 29 passes for 110 yards, with two interceptions. He was sacked for the fourth time with about nine minutes left in the game.

Lack of depth — UM sustained season-ending injuries this past week to tight end Christopher Herndon and star receiver Ahmmon Richards — clearly hurt the Canes.

Miami lost cornerback Trajan Bandy (foot/leg) within a minute-and-and-a-half of the opening kickoff. He never returned.

The Canes also temporarily lost linebacker Zach McCloud later in the first quarter, defensive tackle Kendrick Norton, flanked by trainers as he hobbled slowly off the field with 3:34 left in the opening quarter; and defensive end Chad Thomas. All three returned to the game.

Miami Hurricanes defensive end Chad Thomas talks to the media after ACC title game loss to Clemson.

“Yeah, I am nicked up, but this is the championship game and I play for the U,’’ Thomas said. “I am not just going to give up. I told them to pick me up and ‘Let’s go, let’s rock.’ I didn’t want to go in there [the injury tent]. That is one place you don’t want to be.’’

Said equally proud linebacker Shaquille Quarterman: “The taste, I mean, it’s a bad taste and it sucks. But it’s supposed to suck. That’s what happens when you get whipped.’’

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