4th: 2015 Orange Bowl: Clemson 37, Oklahoma 17
As I said, several people didn’t think Clemson would ever play in the 2015 National Championship. Even though Clemson was the No. 1 seed, several favored the No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners to be the winner in Miami. This included Vegas, who installed Oklahoma as a 4-point favorite.
Some of this was due to Oklahoma being a bonafide blue-blood, while Clemson was still trying to shake the ‘Clemsoning’ reputation.
The Tigers had also bludgeoned the Sooners the previous postseason in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Some thought OU would be motivated for revenge, while Clemson would just be happy to be there.
The Sooners did hold the slim lead at halftime, but it was all Clemson from there. The Tigers scored 21 unanswered points to book their first appearance in a College Football Playoff game.
The game had repercussions for both programs. Clemson rode the momentum into 2016 and found their way back to the playoffs. A disgruntled Oklahoma team, led by a not-quite-mature Baker Mayfield, was defiant about the loss.
"“It’s frustrating watching those types of games, knowing they did nothing to stop us. We did everything. We left a lot on the field, made a bunch of mistakes.”"
Had Mayfield and the Sooners worked harder to get better instead of assuming they were already better, they might not have started the next season 1-2 and out of the playoff hunt before September was over.