LOUISVILLE, KY - Well, they did it again! The Tigers won yet another last-second thriller. This time, it was 30-24 at Louisville for the Tigers' second road win of the season. Remarkably, all 9 of the Tigers' games against FBS opponents this season have been decided by 10 points or less, and the outcome has been in doubt in all of them with less than 5 minutes left. The Tigers took their first lead of the game with 4:12 left on an 8-yard scamper by DJ, hobbling on a sprained knee. After the defense forced a turnover on downs and took over in Louisville territory, the Tigers would add a field goal to put them ahead 30-24 with 2:19 left, but that would give the dynamic Malik Cunningham more than enough time to win the game. He had several big runs in the game, including a 51-yard touchdown, so everyone knew would be no small task to stop him on 4 downs twice in a row. Sure enough, the Cards drove the ball down the field, and Cunningham completed a pass to the 2-yard line on 4th and one and over a minute left. At that point, everyone in the stadium thought that the best the Tigers could hope for was to get the ball back with under a minute left and down a point. However, Brent Venables and the Tigers' defense had other ideas! They mounted a 4-play goal-line stand for the ages, and with 10 seconds left, the Tigers took over on downs and ran out the clock.
Are we getting tired of these types of games yet? Thank goodness the Tigers have UConn at home next week! It will be the first chance we can all catch our breath since SC State in week 2! BT Potter redeemed himself for last week's 1-4 performance by going 3-3 tonight, and the Tigers needed every one of them! If he had missed just one, Louisville would have at least forced overtime. Kobe Pace left the game in the first half with a concussion after missing last week's game due to COVID.
The Tigers improve to 6-3 on the season and are still alive for another ACC Championship! They need NC State to beat Wake and lose to UNC. The Tigers are 7-0 all-time versus Louisville and 31-7 in one-score games since 2011!
I'll have more analysis on Sunday, but I have a long drive to Knoxville ahead of me tonight, and if I leave now, I'll be pulling in at about 5 am! In the meantime, post-game interviews, highlights and notes are below, and I'll have our Sunday evening Zoom call with Dabo posted for you as well!
WITH THE WIN...
Clemson is now 4-2 in one-possession games (decided by eight or fewer points) this season.
Clemson has won 31 of its last 38 one-possession games since 2011, the highest winning percentage in the country in one-score games in that span (.816).
Clemson pushed its all-time record against Louisville to 7-0.
In doing so, Clemson has now won in its first seven games against a school for the third time all-time and the second time against a school presently in the FBS. The Tigers previously won each of their first seven all-time contests in series with Furman and Virginia.
Clemson improved to 4-0 all-time at Louisville. Clemson earned a 20-17 win on a Thursday night in Louisville in 2015, secured a 47-21 win in Louisville in 2017, and earned a 45-10 win in Louisville in 2019.
Clemson evened its record in true road games this season at 2-2.
Clemson improved to 29-4 in true road games since 2015. Clemson has earned victories in 45 of its last 54 games away from home overall.
Clemson improved to 57-5 against ACC opponents (including postseason play) since the start of the 2015 season.
Clemson defeated an ACC Atlantic Division opponent for the 41st time in its last 43 opportunities. Those figures include games against traditional Atlantic opponents in a divisionless season in 2020.
Clemson improved to 73-6 in regular season play since the start of the 2015 season. All six of Clemson's regular season losses in that span have been decided by a final margin of 10 or fewer points.
Clemson improved to 114-13 against AP-unranked teams under Dabo Swinney. The win makes Clemson 91-3 against unranked teams since the start of the 2012 season.
Clemson improved to 39-7 in night games since 2015 and 20-4 in those contests since the start of the 2018 season.
Dabo Swinney earned his 146th career win in his 14th season (including an interim stint in 2008) to pass Mark Richt (145) for sole possession of the fifth-most wins through the first 15 seasons of a coaching career in FBS history.
Clemson improved to 112-2 when totaling more first downs than its opponent since 2011, recording 21 first downs to Louisville’s 17.
Clemson won the game despite losing the turnover margin, 1-0. Clemson is 3-1 this season — and 37-22 under Dabo Swinney — when losing the turnover margin.
Clemson remains undefeated on ACC Network broadcasts since appearing in the channel's first live game broadcast in the 2019 season opener. Clemson went 4-0 on ACCN in 2019, 3-0 on ACCN in 2020 and is now 3-0 on the network this season.
Clemson overcame a 24-17 deficit after three quarters for the win. Including overcoming a fourth-quarter deficit against Florida State last week, Clemson has now won back-to-back games with fourth-quarter comebacks for the first time in the Dabo Swinney era.
The win was Clemson’s 11th under Swinney in which the Tigers have entered the fourth quarter trailing. It was Clemson’s first since Oct. 31 last year against Boston College. (Note: Clemson led entering the fourth quarter last week but trailed after a Florida State touchdown with under eight minutes to play.)
The game was Clemson’s sixth of the season decided by eight or fewer points. With three regular season games remaining, the 2021 season is already the 22nd season in school history in which Clemson has played at least six games decided by eight or fewer points and is two games shy of the school record (eight in 2016).
Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei completed 18-of-30 passes for a season-high 220 yards with two passing touchdowns and no interceptions for a season-high 143.6 pass efficiency rating. He also added one rushing touchdown.
Uiagalelei gave Clemson the late lead — its first of the game — on an eight-yard touchdown run with 4:12 remaining. The rushing touchdown was his career-high-tying fourth of the season.
Clemson scored on its opening drive, a three-play, 75-yard drive that concluded with a 46-yard touchdown pass from Uiagalelei to wide receiver Beaux Collins.
The touchdown reception was the first of Collins’ collegiate career but not the first of his lifetime from Uiagalelei. The two were teammates at St. John Bosco High School in California.
The 46-yard touchdown pass from Uiagalelei to Collins was Clemson’s second-longest pass completion of the season (Uiagalelei to Joseph Ngata for 54 yards against Boston College). It was Clemson’s longest passing touchdown of the year.
Collins finished with a career-high 104 yards on six receptions.
The 100-yard receiving game was the first of Collins’ career and the first by a Clemson true freshman since Justyn Ross recorded 153 yards against Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game to end the 2018 season.
Collins’ 100-yard receiving game was Clemson’s third of the season, joining 100-yard performances by Joseph Ngata against Georgia and Boston College.
Clemson evened the score, 17-17, with 18 seconds remaining in the first half on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Uiagalelei to tight end Davis Allen.
Allen has now caught a touchdown in back-to-back games for the first time since a three-game streak against Miami (Fla.), Georgia Tech and Syracuse last season.
Quarterback Taisun Phommachanh recorded a career-long 26-yard run on his first snap of the game.
With five receptions for 58 yards, wide receiver JustynRoss extended his streak of consecutive games with a reception to 36 to tie Jerry Butler (36 consecutive games from 1975-78) for the third-longest streak in school history.
During the game, Ross (2,340) passed Derrick Hamilton (2,312) for 10th on Clemson's leaderboard for career receiving yards.
Linebacker TrentonSimpson recorded a career-high 2.0 sacks.
Simpson recorded a sack upon forcing Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham into an intentional grounding in the second quarter. Simpson has now recorded a sack in three consecutive games for the first time in his career.
Simpson added his second sack on a third-down stop in the fourth quarter with Clemson trailing by four.
Simpson was also credited with a career-high 10 tackles, surpassing his eight earlier in the season at NC State.
Safety Andrew Mukuba recorded his first career sack on a fourth-down stop to give Clemson the ball back with a three-point lead and 2:40 remaining.
Linebacker James Skalski was credited with a sack on Louisville’s final play, Clemson’s fourth sack of the contest.
Clemson has now recorded at least four sacks against consecutive opponents for the first time since a four-game streak across the final two games of 2019 and first two games of 2020.
Running back Will Shipley recorded a 75-yard kickoff return in the third quarter. It was the longest kickoff return by Clemson since a 77-yard return by Artavis Scott against Louisville in 2016. Scott now serves as an offensive graduate assistant on Clemson’s staff.
One week after going 1-for-4 on field goals vs. Florida State, kicker B.T. Potter responded by going 3-for-3 on field goals and 3-for-3 on PATs for 12 points in the six-point win.
On a 38-yard second-quarter field goal, kicker Potter (299 career points) passed Obed Ariri (288 from 1977-80) for the ninth-most career points in Clemson history. Potter also passed Ariri for fifth in kicking points in school history.
On a 34-yard fourth-quarter field goal, Potter (299) also passed James Davis (294 from 2005-08) for eighth in career points in school history.
Punter Will Spiers started his 65th game to add to his school record for career starts. Wide receiver/holder Will Swinney's career total as Clemson's primary holder parallels Spiers' run as starting punter.
Spiers, Swinney and linebacker James Skalski each played in their 65th career games to extend their school record for most career games played.
Clemson allowed a touchdown on Louisville’s first possession. It snapped a streak of eight straight games to open a season in which Clemson had not allowed a score on an opponent’s first drive of the game.
Conversely, Clemson scored an opening-drive touchdown for the second time this season and the first time since Sept. 11 vs. South Carolina State.
The game was tied 17-17 at halftime, only the 10th time under Head Coach Dabo Swinney that the Tigers have been tied after two quarters. Clemson improved to 7-3 under Swinney in games tied at halftime, earning its first such win since 2019 at North Carolina.
Clemson played back-to-back games in the series in Louisville for the first time. After most recently playing in Louisville in 2019, a scheduled game between the two teams at Clemson in 2020 was removed when the ACC instituted its pandemic-adjusted schedule for that season.
Captains for the contest were tight end Davis Allen, cornerback Andrew Booth Jr., punter Will Spiers and defensive end Xavier Thomas.