ACC Championship Game: By The Numbers
This year’s edition of the ACC Championship Game was an absolute classic. It featured some fantastic athletic performances, the drama of a College Football Playoff berth, and even some late game controversy. Here are some of the key stats from the game.
82: Combined Total Points
The combined 82 points scored in this game made it the highest scoring ACC Championship ever since the game's inception in 2005. The 45 points by Clemson also tied the most points scored by one team ever (Florida State in 2013). The score was only 9-7 UNC at the end of the first quarter, but both offenses heated up from that point on.
Starting with their final possession of the first half down 14-16, the Tigers scored touchdowns on three consecutive drives for 21 unanswered points to go up 35-16. That proved to be too much of a hole for the Tar Heels to climb out of. They would slowly bring the deficit to just eight points by the end, but there just wasn’t enough time to tie it up or take the lead.
990: Total Combined Yards
Both offenses were incredible in this game. The mark of 990 total yards is another ACC Championship Game record. By itself, Clemson set new ACCCG records for total yards (608), plays (98), and first downs (33). Defense took a back seat in this game, as both teams looked unstoppable with the ball for large portions of the game.
17:52: Time Clemson Held The Ball Longer Than UNC
Its tough to win when the time of possession is so lopsided. Clemson absolutely dominated on offense, running 98 total plays compared to North Carolina’s 69. UNC still managed to put up plenty of points, so this plays ran differential should have more to do with their defensive performance.
Offensively, UNC likes to play a very quick style. Only two of their drives went over two minutes, and none of them went for more than nine plays. At first glance this sounds bad, but it really isn’t considering that the Tar Heels managed to score 37 points. Still, three of their drives were under one minute and many more were barely over the minute mark. Too many early quick three-and-outs were a problem all night (including three straight and five total in the first half).
Their main issue however was not being able to get Clemson’s offense off of the field. The Tigers were able to score and eat up clock on their long drives. Five of their drives were compromised of 10 or more plays, and five were over four minutes long. Only two were less than a minute.
420: Total Yards Accounted For By Deshaun Watson
Watson was pure magic in this game, accounting for 420 total yards of offense. He achieved that with 289 passing yards and 131 rushing yards. His 420 yard mark breaks Jameis Winston’s old record as the most total offense for one player in the ACC Championship Game. For comparison, as a team UNC gained just 382 total yards. Again and again Watson has proved that he is an incredible dual threat quarterback. When asked about Watson, Coach Dabo Swinney had this to say:
"If you really sit down and watch our 13 games he's the best player in the country and there's no doubt about it. This guy beats you not just with his legs, he beats you with his arm, his mind, his heart, his guts, his toughness, this is a great champion of a player…"
5: Total Touchdowns Accounted For By Deshaun Watson
Watson didn’t just rack up yards in this game, he racked up points as well. He threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more. Inside the UNC 10-yard-line it was almost a guarantee that Watson was going to try to run it in himself, but nobody could do anything to stop him. This marks his 8th game this season in which he both threw for a touchdown and ran for one. It is also his 4th straight doing so. Watson has only had one game this year in which he didn’t score multiple touchdowns.
33.3%: Completion Percentage For Marquise Williams
Even though he gained 305 total yards, it was a tough day for Marquise Williams as he completed just 11 of his 33 pass attempts. He somewhat made up for it with 224 yards passing and three touchdowns, but it's tough to win when your quarterback can’t complete even 50% of his passes. UNC drives were completely halted when Williams would throw two incomplete passes in one set of downs. Those incompletions contributed heavily to North Carolina's early three-and-out trouble.
0: UNC Players Offsides On The Onside Kick
It can’t be an important college football game without controversy can it? After bringing it to within eight, North Carolina appeared to recover the onside kick with about 1:10 left in the game. Unfortunately, they were called for being offsides, and Clemson recovered the re-kick. Upon further investigation, no UNC player was even close to being offsides.