The Hangover, Part XIV: Scouting No. 4 Oklahoma

Oklahoma cornerback Zack Sanchez gestures to Oklahoma State fans in the endzone following a teammate's touchdown during an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)

Who: No. 1 Clemson (13-0, 9-0 ACC) vs. No. 4 Oklahoma (11-1, 7-1 Big XII)

What: College Football Playoff national semifinal, The Orange Bowl

When: Dec. 31, 4 p.m.

Where: Sun Life Stadium (72,230) | Miami Gardens, Fla.


Clemson Radio: Clemson Radio Network (WQSC-AM 1340 in Charleston) | Affiliates

Oklahoma writer to follow: Jason Kersey, The Oklahoman (@JasonKersey)

Line: Oklahoma by 3.5

What to know about Oklahoma’s schedule: The 2015 Big XII champions made sure its conference wouldn’t be the odd-man out in the second-ever College Football Playoff ... CFB Playoff committee chairman Jeff Long said in the selection committee’s final meetings, there was some discussion Oklahoma, which was awarded the fourth seed, had a case for the No. 1 seed ... the Sooners began with a 41-3 win over Akron and then a remarkable comeback at Tennessee, 31-24 in overtime in Knoxville, against a Vols team that struggled to close out opponents but finished 8-4 ... the most points scored against Oklahoma’s defense, the best in the Big XII, was 38 by Tulsa in week 3. Tulsa trailed 38-31 in the final minute of the third quarter, before losing 52-38 and becoming the first team in three years to hang 600-plus yards on the Sooners ... after beating West Virginia, No. 10 Oklahoma was shocked 24-17 by Texas in Dallas. The Longhorns rushed for 313 yards and went 9-for-16 on third downs, while the Sooners rushed for 67 yards and went 3-for-12 on third downs ... that loss dropped the Sooners to No. 19, but they won their last seven games, starting by dropping a double-nickel on Kansas State (55-0), the first of four teams Oklahoma lost to in 2014 and beaten in 2015 ... when Oklahoma beat Texas Tech 63-27, that was the Red Raiders’ second-lowest point and yardage totals of the year ... after swatting Kansas and Iowa State by a combined margin of 114-23, Oklahoma finished off its Big XII Championship by beating three top-20 teams in succession, including two road wins: 44-34 at No. 18 Baylor, 30-29 vs. No. 11 TCU and 58-23 at No. 13 Oklahoma State. The Bears, Horned Frogs and Cowboys all joined K-State as revenge wins for Oklahoma ... the fifth and final loss of Oklahoma’s 2014 season was to Clemson.

What to know about Oklahoma’s team stats: The Sooners are seventh in total offense and 31st in total defense. They’re one of four teams in the nation in the top 31 in both categories: Clemson is 12th in offense and 7th in defense, while Boise State and Appalachian State each rank in the teens on one side and the twenties on the other ... Oklahoma is 17th in rushing offense and 18th in rushing defense. They’re one of four teams in the nation in the top 25 in both categories: TCU and Baylor are each in there, as is Clemson, which is No. 23 in rushing and No. 23 in passing ... the Sooners are tied for 14th in turnover margin at plus-16 on the season. Their 19 interceptions are tied with Utah for seventh-most nationally, and topped only by West Virginia among Power 5 squads ... Oklahoma is one of the more heavily-flagged teams in the country, averaging 61.3 penalty yards per game. (Clemson has 48.2) ... Oklahoma’s offense converts 44.1 percent on third down (29th) and allows opponents to convert 39.8 percent of their tries (79th.) The Tigers, by comparison: 47.7 on offense, 24.9 percent on defense ... The Sooners have allowed 36 sacks, fewer than only 14 teams in the country. The Tigers are fifth in sacks at 38 ... Oklahoma has 241 gains of 10 yards or more, fifth-most in the nation and 99 more than its opponents.

What to know about Oklahoma’s player stats: Junior quarterback Baker Mayfield, twice a former walk-on at Texas Tech and Oklahoma, won the Burlsworth Award as the nation’s top original walk-on, and it was not a difficult decision. He had one of the better cases for a New York City trip outside the three Heisman finalists, totaling 3,809 yards and 42 touchdowns through 12 games. He ranks second nationally in passer rating (178.86) and yards per attempt (9.6), trailing Oregon’s Vernon Adams in nine games’ work ... there is this to know about Mayfield. His five worst statistical games with his arm were the Texas loss and Oklahoma’s four wins over ranked opponents, but he is getting more comfortable in the running game, tallying a touchdown and more than 70 yards on the ground vs. Baylor and Oklahoma State in November ... tailback Samaje Perine hasn’t been quite as sensational as his freshman year in 2014, when he was a second-team All-American, but he’s been pretty good with 1,291 yards and 15 touchdowns averaging more than six yards a carry ... Perine had three 200-yard games in 2014, including a 427-yard outburst vs. Kansas, and has topped 150 yards four times this year with a 201-yard effort vs. Texas Tech. He’s averaging 145 yards a game since Oct. 24, which if upheld all year would have been fourth-best in the nation behind Leonard Fournette, Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook ... senior Sterling Shepard is back, ranking in the top 10 nationally with 11 touchdowns, the top 15 with 1,201 receiving yards and just outside the top 20 with 79 receptions ... his game of the year: 14 catches, 177 yards, 2 TDs in the 44-34 win over Baylor ... senior linebacker Eric Striker is the heart of the Sooners’ defense, recording 16 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks and 11 quarterback hurries . . . cornerbacks Zack Sanchez and Jordan Thomas have combined for 11 interceptions, and each have taken one back to the house ... the Sooners’ depth chart is similarly (to the Tigers) thin on seniors. Only six seniors are listed as starters.

When last they met: Clemson 40, Oklahoma 6 on Dec. 29, 2014 in Orlando: So that was a thing that happened. The largest margin of victory in a bowl game in Clemson history, the greatest night of Cole Stoudt’s college career, and a big night for Artavis Scott and Ben Boulware. The score was 40-0 until the Sooners scored a touchdown with 6:57 remaining.

All-time series: Tied 2-2. Clemson also beat Oklahoma in Orlando to cap the 1988 season in the Citrus Bowl 13-6 when both teams were ranked in the top 10. Oklahoma won roadies at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium in 1963 (31-14) and 1972 (52-3), both games in which the Sooners were ranked in the top five.

Extra point: Since winning the 2000 national championship by beating Florida State at Pro Player Stadium on Jan. 3, 2001, Oklahoma has lost its last three games at Sun Life Stadium (when it was under different naming rights): the 2005 and 2009 BCS Championship Games and a 2009 road game at Miami. Oklahoma lost its last trip to the Sunshine State (the Russell Athletic Bowl to Clemson,) but won at then-No. 1 Florida State in week two of 2011.