Vols top best year considering that ’01 with Orange Bowl win

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla.– The only thing that stopped Tennessee fans from singing “Rocky Top” as time was expiring Friday night was the need to serenade Joe Milton with something else.

“M-V-P!” they shouted, over and over. With excellent reason.Milton, who regained the beginning job only after his friend Hendon Hooker got harmed late in the year, led Tennessee to among its finest minutes in the previous number of decades.He completed 19 of 28 passes for 251 backyards and three touchdowns

, and No. 6 Tennessee never tracked on its way to a 31-14 success over No. 10 Clemson in the Orange Bowl. 1 Related”I trust myself, I trust my training and I simply let it take place,”Milton said.The Volunteers, who had

n’t had an 11-win season given that 2001, completed 11-2 and capped a year in which they beat Alabama, LSU and Clemson, programs that integrated to win 6 of the seven recent College Football Playoff nationwide titles.” All the adversity this group’s faced during their professions, what they’ve done the last 23 months, I couldn’t be prouder of a group of individuals, “said Tennessee coach Josh Heupel, who won a nationwide title as an Oklahoma player in the Orange Bowl.”These players, our staff, Vol Nation, everyone’s been along for the journey.” Squirrel White, Bru McCoy and Ramel Keyton had the scoring catches for the Volunteers. Jaylen Wright rushed for 89 backyards, and Jabari Small had a goal run

for Tennessee.Cade Klubnik, making his first start for Clemson, completed 30 of 54 passes for 320 backyards with 2 interceptions. But Clemson (11-3)just kept turning up empty on prime scoring chances; the Tigers

got into Tennessee area on 9 of their first 10 possessions and turned those trips into just two field goals.Clemson ended up with 484 backyards on 101 plays and still lost by 17.”You do not get any points for backyards,”Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.”The name of the game’s points. … You have to complete and perform, and we did not do that.

“Klubnik ran in from 4 backyards out to get Clemson within 21-14 with 10:01 left, but Milton connected with Keyton for a 46-yard rating on the next Tennessee ownership. The Volunteers obstructed Klubnik on a desperation fourth-down heave

about a minute later on, just about sealing the result.”Desire we might have sent out these seniors with a win,”Klubnik said.”I think we offered all of it we had till the last play.” In this really orange Orange Bowl– both groups have it as their primary color– it was the Tennessee hue that was superior.

Hooker existed, having flown in about a week ago to be with his team and help Milton get ready for the game.”

Blood can’t make us closer,”Milton stated.”That’s my bro ’til the end.”Milton opened the scoring with a 16-yard pass to McCoy, and Small’s 2-yard rush pushed the cause 14-0 with 9:03 left in the half. The Vols’offense, which led the country this year in lawns and points per game, wasn’t at its finest, but it didn’t need to be.Clemson got the ball seven times in the very first half, entering Tennessee area all seven times and getting to the Vols’ 25 on four occasions.Somehow, that became only three points.The other 6 ownerships: a stuffed phony field goal run by Drew Swinney, the kid of Clemson coach Dabo Swinney; a punt; 3 missed basket by B.T. Potter, the most respected kicker in school history; and a brutal final drive when Klubnik was tackled on a

keeper with 6 seconds left. Clemson ran out timeouts, couldn’t get the field goal unit on the field and went into halftime trailing 14-3. “Lot of missed opportunities,”Dabo Swinney said.Potter opened the second half with a 40-yarder of the no-problem variety, the 73rd basket of his profession, a school record for the Tigers. But White captured a 14-yard pass with 5 seconds left in the 3rd, giving the Vols a 21-6 lead going into the fourth.When it was over, Milton took a knee, tucked the game ball under his left arm and merely would not let it go.

He’ll get in 2023 as Tennessee’s assumed starter, and expectations will be high for a program that went 20-27 in the four seasons prior to Heupel’s arrival, went 7-6 in 2015 under him and now won an Orange Bowl.”It’s been an enjoyable climb, “Heupel stated.”The best is yet to come.

“Tennessee might climb up an area or two, depending on what occurs in the College Football Playoff games. It’ll be the Vols’best finish in at least 20 years; they were No. 4 in 2001 and No. 1 in 1998. Clemson will become part of the last poll for the 12th successive year, extending the longest such run in school history.

The Tigers remained in 6 straight season-ending AP polls from 1986 through 1991. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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