No. 1 Clemson (13-0) hasn’t lost a game this season, and yet, the Tigers, as of now, will be 3.5-point underdogs against No. 4 Oklahoma (11-1) in the Orange Bowl on Thursday.
Damon Amendolara finds it interesting that the Sooners are favored. He isn’t alone.
“I find it interesting too, especially since Clemson spanked our butts last year,” five-time Pro Bowler and Sooners sideline reporter Roy Williams told Damon Amendolara, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “But it is what it is. I know Coach Stoops’ mindset and the team’s mindset. They’re not worried (that) they’re projected to beat them. We’re not worried about that. We have to play the game. I think they’re going to go out there and they’re going to execute. I’m really interested to see how our defense stands up against Deshaun.”
Deshaun is Heisman finalist Deshaun Watson, who threw for 3,512 yards, rushed for 887 and accounted for 41 touchdowns (30 pass, 11 rush) and 11 interceptions this season. Last year, Watson watched Cole Stoudt lead Clemson to a 40-6 win over Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl. This year, he’ll try to do the honors himself.
And if he does, hopefully he does it without a lot of trash talk. Yes, Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett and Oklahoma defensive end Charles Tapper have engaged in a little back-and-forth in the days leading up to the game.
One must wonder what the verbal and emotional battle will be like throughout the contest.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Williams said. “I’ve never been the person to talk noise because I’ve always found it’ll bite you back in the butt. So I always kept my mouth closed. It’s just a new day and age with social media and guys selling themselves. They’re young adults. They’re going to get mouthy. They’re going to have some talk back. I see that it’s already starting. I just hope that we remember we’re playing to have the opportunity to play for a national championship. So keep the talking minimal, just take care of business and let your pads do the talking for you.”
Still, Williams, a starting defensive back on Oklahoma’s 2000 national championship team, doesn’t think Bob Stoops minds a little jawing – at least not now.
“Coach has changed since I’ve been there,” Williams said. “He used to be a drill sergeant. Now he’s a little more lax with more wisdom. He’s comfortable now. He’s letting his athletes be men and take care (of what they have to take care of). But I don’t think it’s a problem. I don’t think he’s getting all worked up. I’m pretty sure he lets them talk throughout the season. They’re going to be a little more mouthy now because of the higher stakes, but I know once they got on that plan and arrived in Miami, it’s business. I know the guys are still talking, but maybe they’re just trying to play some mind games. I’m interested for this game. I think it’s going to be a good one.”