Joe Milton III passed for 251 yards and three touchdowns to lead No. 6 Tennessee to a 31-14 victory over No. 7 Clemson on Friday night in the Orange Bowl at Miami Gardens, Fla.
Squirrel White caught nine passes for 108 yards and one touchdown and Bru McCoy and Ramel Keyton also had scoring receptions for the Volunteers (11-2). Jabari Small rushed for a touchdown while Aaron Beasley and Byron Young each had two sacks as Tennessee achieved its first 11-win season since 2001.
Clemson’s Cade Klubnik was 30-of-54 passing for 320 yards and two interceptions and also rushed for 51 yards and a touchdown in his first career start. Joseph Ngata had eight catches for 84 yards for the Tigers (11-3).
Milton completed 19 of 28 passes in his second start since star Hendon Hooker tore the ACL in his left knee against South Carolina on Nov. 19.
The Volunteers held a 21-6 lead after Milton tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to White with five seconds left in the third quarter.
Clemson took over and finally found the end zone on its 11th possession of the contest. The Tigers drove 71 yards on 12 plays with Klubnik scoring on a 4-yard run and Will Shipley adding a two-point run to pull within seven with 10:01 remaining in the game.
But Tennessee wasted no time answering back as Milton threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Keyton. That capped a six-play, 75-yard drive that gave the Volunteers a 28-14 advantage with 8:34 left.
Chase McGrath booted a 32-yard field goal with 3:07 remaining as Tennessee finished off the triumph.
The Volunteers led 14-3 at halftime despite being outgained 273-191.
Clemson was unable to finish first-half drives and B.T. Potter missed three field goals — he was wide right from 55 and 49 yards and wide left from 42.
The Volunteers struck first when Milton tossed a 16-yard touchdown pass to McCoy with 5:17 left in the first quarter.
Tennessee made it 14-0 after Milton’s 50-yard connection to White moved the ball to the Clemson 2-yard line. Small ran in on the next play with 9:03 left in the half.
Potter’s fourth field-goal attempt of the half slid inside the left upright to get the Tigers on the board with 5:11 remaining.
Potter booted a 40-yard field goal with 10:57 remaining in the third quarter. It was his 73rd career make, surpassing Nelson Welch (72 from 1991-94) for most in Clemson history.
–Field Level Media