DJ UIAGALELEI AND NO.5 CLEMSON BEAT NO.10 NC STATE 30-20, EXTENDING HISTORIC HOME WIN STREAK
- 2022-10-02 16:18:34
CLEMSON, SC - Well, the Tigers completed their revenge tour of the ACC Atlantic Division on Saturday night in Death Valley. Last week, they beat the defending division champ on the road at Wake. This week, they avenged last season's double-overtime loss at NC State, which cost the Tigers a 7th straight ACC Title and a 7th straight College Football Playoff berth.
Boy, did we get lucky with the weather! All week long, we talked about how a sloppy field, strong winds and a wet football might affect the game, but we ended up with an absolutely perfect night for football! It didn't even rain a drop all day. In fact, the sun actually came out during ESPN College GameDay in the morning, and I was sweating! We were all anticipating a repeat of the 2015 Notre Dame game, when the hurricane caused rain non-stop from morning to night, and I was soaked covering GameDay that morning and for the rest of the day, on through the game that night but Mother Nature threw us a break. Of course, Dabo is 10-1 in rain games, but I'm sure everyone was glad about the surprisingly great weather. The scene at GameDay on Bowman Field was incredible on Saturday morning, and the atmosphere in Death Valley was electric as the sun was setting and kickoff approached. I was backstage, as always, to bring you coverage of GameDay, and you can enjoy that HERE.
We were told pre-game that the Tigers would be without Bryan Bresee and Malcolm Greene, but Xavier Thomas and Sheridan Jones also did not play. The latter three have missed previous games due to injury, and Bresee was hospitalized this week due to a problem with his kidneys. Thank God, he is ok, but he was unable to play and a big missing piece for the defense. Remember, he tore his ACL in the double-overtime loss at NC State last year. He also missed the LA Tech game due to the passing of his little sister, Ella. What a nightmare couple weeks for the Bresee family! The good news for the Tigers is that they had DT Tre Williams and safety Andrew Makuba back, although he would be ejected late in the first half due to targeting. The real question was whether the Tigers, missing two starting corners for the second straight game, would be able to stop Leary and NC State's passing game or whether we would see a repeat of the Sam Hartman and Wake Forest from last week. In response, Wes Goodwin moved the versatile sophomore Mukuba from safety to corner against NC State, where he has taken reps fairly regularly at practice since last spring. However, when Mukuba was ejected late in the first half, it would be up to Wiggins and Pride to redeem themselves at corner. Freshman safety Sherrod Covil would also be pressed into duty after RJ Mickens went out with an apparent stinger or shoulder injury.
The Tigers got the ball first and quickly marched right down the field. However, DJ's 3rd down run was stopped at the 3-yard line, and Dabo decided to play it safe against a great defense and take the easy 3 points to establish some momentum for the Tigers. Just like a couple of heavyweight fighters throwing jabs in the first round, State answered with its own field goal drive to tie the game. The Pack converted on 3rd down twice, including a 3rd and 16, and 4th down once on that opening drive. It looked like the Tigers might force an opening 3 and out after the crowd assisted in a false start to make it 3rd and 16, but Leary found his favorite target, Thayer Thomas for the big conversion. I wrote in my preview that Thomas was the straw who stirs the drink for the Pack's passing game, and sure enough, he was their biggest weapon all night with 9 catches for 84 yards. They had one big completion in the 1st quarter to Devin Carter, the other receiver I wrote about, to set up a 1st and goal, but the Tigers did a good job on him the rest of the night.
Those first two drives consumed almost the entire first quarter, and it was a fast second quarter as well. After each defense forced a 3 and out, the Tigers drove 59 yards for another Potter field goal, this time from 46. It was his 9th straight make to start the season. He was 3-3 last week, including the 52-yarder to tie the game at the end of regulation. Once again, however, State answered with a counterpunch, and this time scored a touchdown to take its first lead, 10-6. From the 2-yard line, the Tigers had a coverage bust as freshman tight end Ced Seabrough leaked into the back of the end zone wide open. As I wrote in my preview, Ced and Fred are identical twin tight ends, and Ced had just one catch for 4 yards coming into the game. Tip your hat to State for a good play call on that one.
The Tigers got the ball back with 1:51 left in the half, and the crowd didn't have to wait long for the Tigers to respond. DJ found Will Shipley for a 26-yard completion, and he very nearly scored, but his knee was down a yard short of the goal line as he reached for the end zone. DJ was able to lunge into the end zone on the next play, however, and retake the lead 13-10 with 31 seconds left in the half. It was a nicely executed 2-minute drill by the Tigers' offense. They scored 3 times in 4 possessions in the first half, and the last one was an important one to give the Tigers their first touchdown, retake the lead and have momentum going into the locker room with State getting the ball to start the 2nd half. Dabo always says that there's nothing less important than the score at halftime, but the record books would disagree with him. Coming into the game, the Tigers had won 63 straight games when leading at the half!
If they wanted to make it 64 straight, the Tigers would have to continue to score against a great defense and keep Devin Leary, a great quarterback, from torching them like Sam Hartman did at Wake last week. The Tigers took that momentum from the first half and carried it into the second, roaring out of the locker room and asserting their will. The defense forced a 3 and out thanks to sacks by Barrett Carter and Myles Murphy, and that gave the Tigers good field position for their first possession of the half. They paid it off with a big 38-yard run by DJ to the State 9-yard line. Then he found Jake Briningstool for a 7-yard touchdown pass to give the Tigers a 20-10 lead. It was the third game our of four with a TD for the sophomore tight end, who has really emerged as a big scoring threat to complement TE Davis Allen. The two combined for 3 TD's at Wake last week!
The Tigers were able to hold the Pack to a 49-yard field goal on the next possession, making it a one-score game again at 20-13. It was a season-long for the fifth-year starter and tied for the fourth-longest field goal of his career. On the ensuing possession, DJ completed a 31-yard pass to Briningstool, but the Tigers would have to settle for a 46-yard field goal, and Potter missed his first kick of the season, wide left. The Tigers' defense responded with a 3 and out, and State answered with the same. On 3rd and 7 near midfield, Toriano Pride intercepted Devin Leary for a big momentum swing, and it was a great time for his first career pick. It was also a nice vindication for Pride after a rough "baptism by fire" last week at Wake in which he was beat several times for big completions or penalties. Pride's interception would be the only one of the game.
With it being still a one-score game, the Tigers had a big 3rd and 7 at the end of the 3rd quarter, and I wrote on my game thread that they needed to get freshman WR Antonio Williams involved in the game. Sure enough, DJ hit him for a 22-yard completion to the State 29-yard line. They would have a big 3rd and 8 to start the 4th quarter. A long throw back to Davis Allen went for just one yard, so Potter would have to come back out and see if he could make up for his first miss of the season. Showing his mental toughness and maturity, the veteran kicker made the clutch 44-yarder to once again make it a two-score game at 23-13. That made Potter 3-4 on the night and 10-11 on the season.
Myles Murphy came up with a big sack for an 8-yard loss on State's next possession, and that resulted in a punt for the Pack. Brandon Streeter went for the knock-out punch on 1st down with a slant-and-go, or "sluggo" route by Beaux Collins, and the touchdown was there for the taking. DJ made a great throw, but Beaux Collins had to stretch out for it, and it went just off his fingertips. He could have caught it easily if he had laid out for it, but he was hoping to be able to catch it on the run and waltz into the end zone. It was the second time in the game that DJ missed a wide-open Collins for a big completion near the end zone, and it was the first game this season that the former high school teammates failed to connect for a touchdown. After that, a completion to Shipley came up just 2 yards short of the sticks, so the Tigers would have to punt on 4th and 2 to keep the Pack barely breathing down 10 points.
On their next possession, the Pack drove to the Tigers' 36, approaching field goal range, and then were hit with a holding penalty to knock them back 10 yards. Doeren decided he had no choice but to go for it on 4th and 13, and Leary fumbled the snap, recovered by KJ Henry. Chalk that one up to the intimidation factor of Death Valley, which went into a frenzy after that play!
After the fumble with great field position, the Tigers were poised to deliver the knock-out punch and put the Pack away for good. Mafah made a big 15-yard run on 3rd and 9 to the State 9-yard line, and DJ would do the rest. On a brilliantly called and executed bootleg, DJ made the ball disappear on his hip, completely faking out the defense, and trotted into the end zone untouched with a big smile on his face. We learned after the game that Dabo drew up that play on the sideline, and they hadn't even practiced it! Everyone knows Dabo is a great motivator and head coach, but he doesn't get enough credit for his X's and O's acumen. That score gave the Tigers their biggest lead of the game, up 30-13, and everyone knew it was over for all intents and purposes. State scored a garbage touchdown with less than a minute left after a questionable roughing the passer call negated a Maguire interception, but it was too little and too late.
The talk all week was about DJ's sensational performance at Wake last week, and rightfully so. But I was excited to see if he could show his maturity and consistency, following that up with another great performance against another great quarterback. He did exactly that! In fact, is completion percentage actually went up from last week to a whopping 70% (21-30). He passed for one TD and ran for 2. His 73 rush yards were the most for either team, and he averaged 5.2 yards per carry, finishing with 282 total yards. DJ has thrown just one interception in 5 games, and that was a deflection! And NC State had 7 INT's coming into the game, which was top-10 nationally. DJ had 9 TD passes and 10 INT's last season in his first year as a starter. Through 5 games, he has 11 TD passes and just one INT! He has to be the most improved player in the nation--certainly the most improved quarterback. Perhaps it's too soon to start hinting at the Heisman, but if DJ continues to play this well without throwing interceptions, and the Tigers make it to the CFP undefeated? He should absolutely be a Heisman Finalist. Remember, Heisman voters love a good comeback story! Speaking of interceptions, the Tigers did not commit a single turnover in either of their last two games against top-20 teams. If they don't turn the ball over, there is no one in the ACC that can beat this team--maybe no one in the country. And shout-out to the offensive line, which has been outstanding in the two biggest games of the season. They allowed just one sack at Wake and no sacks against that great NC State defense. They provided DJ with a great pocket in both games, allowing him time to go through his progression and find open receivers. Freshman OT Blake Miller is growing up before our eyes!
What a bounce-back performance by the defense too! They were still missing 4 key starters, including 2 corners, but Wiggins and Pride rebounded from their bad game last week and held up nicely. Wiggins had a key PBU on 3rd down, where he climbed the ladder like he did on the game-winning play last week, and Pride had the game's only interception. Myles Murphy is starting to play like we expected preseason as Todd McShay's No.1 NFL defensive end prospect. After no sacks in the first 2 games and few QB pressures, he had a sack against LA Tech 2 weeks ago, half a sack at Wake last week and 1.5 sacks against State. The Tigers completely smothered the Pack's run game, allowing just 34 rush yards and 1.6 yards per carry! On State's first 16 run plays, the Tigers hit the ball carrier at or behind the line of scrimmage on 7 of them. KJ Henry, Myles Murphy, Tyler Davis, Ruke and Barrett Carter were particularly awesome.
My score prediction was Clemson 34-20, so I was pretty close to perfect. If Potter hadn't missed his first field goal of the season, it would have been 33-20, or if the Tigers had gotten into the end zone on that first drive, my prediction would have been perfect. I was only 4 points off on the Tigers' points at Wake last week as well. I was low on Wake's point total, but I didn't know at the time that the Tigers would be missing 5 starters on defense, including 3 from the secondary.
After falling behind for the first time, 10-6 late in the 2nd quarter, the Tigers outscored the Pack 24-3 before State scored a meaningless TD with less than a minute left. The Tigers exacted their revenge on No.16 Wake and No.10 NC State in back-to-back weeks and extended the nation's longest win streak to 11 games. They also extended the nation's longest home win streak to 37, tying FSU for the all-time ACC record! 20 years ago, I never thought anyone would approach that record. Amazingly, if not for that las-second 52-yard field goal by Pitt to beat the Tigers in 2016, Clemson would be riding a 57-game home win streak and on the verge of surpassing Miami's all-time national record from the 1980's that everyone thought would stand forever. Who knows, maybe the Tigers will do the unthinkable again in a few years!
Safety RJ Mickens left the game with an apparent shoulder injury, and I'll get an update on him from Dabo on Sunday evening. OG Walker Parks left the game with an apparent leg injury, but he was able to come back into the game. Freshman Sherrod Covil, who had to fill in at safety when Mukuba was ejected, just had the wind knocked out of him.
5-0 & 10 TO GO! Post-game interviews, highlights and notes are below!
WITH THE WIN...
- Clemson won its 11th consecutive game to extend the nation's longest active winning streak.
- Clemson has now posted the eighth winning streak of 11 or more games in program history, its first since a school-record 29-game winning streak across the 2018-19 seasons.
- Clemson won its 37th consecutive home game to extend its school record for both the longest home winning streak and longest home unbeaten streak in school history. It also extended the nation’s longest active home winning streak. No member of Clemson’s roster has lost a home game at Clemson in their careers.
- With its 37th consecutive home win, Clemson tied the longest home winning streak in ACC history, matching Florida State’s 37-game streak from 1992-2001). Note: Miami's FBS-record 58-game home winning streak from 1985-94 predated the Hurricanes' ACC membership.
- Clemson tied 1992-2001 Florida State, 1904-08 Yale and 1900-03 Yale (37 each) for the 11th-longest home winning streak in FBS history.
- Clemson improved its national-best record at home in the College Football Playoff era (since 2014) to 56-1.
- Clemson improved to 15-12 all-time in games between AP Top 10 teams. Clemson is now 12-6 against AP Top 10 teams in the College Football Playoff era, with all six losses coming to College Football Playoff participants (including four national champions).
- Clemson improved to 21-7 against NC State in games in which Clemson is ranked in the AP Top 25. Clemson also moved to 8-5 all-time against ranked NC State squads.
- Clemson improved to 60-29-1 all-time against NC State. NC State became the third program against which Clemson has won 60 games all-time (South Carolina, 72; Wake Forest, 70).
- Clemson earned its 16th win in an 18-game span in its series with NC State.
- Clemson extended the longest home winning streak in series history by winning a ninth straight home game against NC State at Memorial Stadium, dating to 2004. The last time NC State won in Clemson was in 2002 in a game branded by ESPN as “College Football Thursday Night presented by Circuit City.”
- Clemson pushed its record at Death Valley against NC State to 24-11 since the facility opened in 1942. Clemson’s 24 wins against the Wolfpack at Death Valley are its second-most against any opponent, trailing only Clemson’s 35 wins against Wake Forest in Memorial Stadium.
- Clemson improved to 24-4 in night games since the start of the 2018 season. Clemson is now 43-7 at night since 2015.
- Clemson won its 19th consecutive night game in Death Valley, a streak that dates to the middle of the 2013 season.
- Clemson improved to 19-11 when playing in College GameDay's featured contest. Clemson is now 10-2 in GameDay games in regular season play since 2015.
- Clemson improved to 11-5 all-time at Death Valley against undefeated teams with a 4-0 or better record.
- Clemson improved to 26-7 against AP Top 25 teams since 2015. Clemson's 26 wins against AP Top 25 teams are tied for the third-most in the country in that span.
- Head Coach Dabo Swinney moved to 11-2 all-time against NC State and moved to 6-0 in home games against the Wolfpack.
- Swinney earned his eighth career victory against NC State Head Coach Dave Doeren, Swinney's second-most against any opposing coach (nine vs. Dave Clawson).
- Clemson improved to 19-9 under Swinney in rematches of losses.
- Swinney improved to 34-3 all-time against teams from the state of North Carolina. It was his 27th win against a North Carolina-based team in his last 28 opportunities since 2012.
- Clemson improved to 71-4 when scoring first since 2015. Clemson has scored first in eight straight games, dating to last season.
- Clemson’s late second-quarter score gave the Tigers a 13-10 halftime lead. Clemson has now won 101 of its last 103 games, including each of its last 64, when leading at halftime.
- Clemson is now 122-2 since 2011 when leading after three quarters.
- Clemson has won 101 of its last 102 games when holding teams under 23 points (dates to 2010), including 89 straight prior to a season-opening 10-3 loss to Georgia in 2021.
- Clemson and NC State played the highest-ranked game in the series' 90-game history. Previously, the highest combined ranking in a game between the two programs came in their 2018 matchup, when No. 3 Clemson defeated No. 16 NC State, 41-7.
- Clemson and NC State met with both teams ranked in the AP Top 25 for the sixth time in series history, joining ranked meetings in 1986, 1991, 1992, 2017 and 2018.
- Clemson did not allow a sack for the first time this season. Since 2011, Clemson is undefeated when it does not allow a sack.
- Clemson reached the 30-point mark for the 10th time in an 11-game span, dating to last season.
- Clemson did not turn the ball over and has now played consecutive games without a giveaway for the first time since last year's Boston College and Syracuse games.
- Clemson won the turnover margin, 2-0, finished even or positive in the turnover margin for a ninth consecutive game, dating to last season. It represented Clemson's first time doing so over nine games since 2019. Clemson's last game in which it lost the turnover margin was on Nov. 6 last season at Louisville.
- Clemson now has a 69-4 record when winning the turnover margin since 2011.
- Clemson converted its two takeaways into 10 points in the 10-point victory.
- Clemson held NC State to 34 rushing yards on 21 carries, a 1.6-yard average. NC State entered the game averaging 157.5 yards per carry this season.
- Clemson records its 31st time holding an opponent under 2.0 yards per carry since 2014, the second-most in the nation.
- Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei completed 21-of-30 passes for 209 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. He also rushed for a career-high 73 yards on 14 carries and tied his single-game career high with two rushing touchdowns.
- Uiagalelei improved to 16-4 as a starter. He tied Kelly Bryant (16-2 from 2015-18) and Cullen Harper (16-9 from 2005-08) for the 14th-most wins by a Clemson starting quarterback since World War II.
- With the 209-yard performance Saturday, Uiagalelei (4,402) passed Steve Fuller (4,359 from 1975-78) to enter the top 10 in program history in career passing yards.
- Uiagalelei took sole possession of the 10th-most career passing touchdowns in school history.
- Uiagalelei has now rushed for at least 50 yards in three straight games for the first time in his career. He is the first Clemson quarterback to accomplish the feat since Kelly Bryant in 2017.
- Uiagalelei scored his second rushing touchdown of the season — the 10th rushing touchdown of his career — on a one-yard touchdown run with 31 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
- The touchdown run by Uiagalelei came on the first play after running back Will Shipley recorded a career-long 26-yard reception late in the second quarter on a pass from Uiagalelei.
- Clemson started that touchdown drive with 1:51 remaining in the half. The Tigers moved 75 yards in eight plays over 1:20 to take the halftime lead.
- Uiagalelei all but sealed the win with his second rushing touchdown, a nine-yard bootleg in the fourth quarter.
- Tight end Jake Briningstool added to his single-season career high with his third touchdown reception of the season on a seven-yard pass from Uiagalelei.
- Briningstool has now caught a touchdown in consecutive games for the first time in his career.
- Briningstool’s touchdown was set up by a career-long 38-yard rush by Uiagalelei that put the Tigers inside the NC State 10-yard line.
- Clemson opened the scoring on a 13-play, 72-yard drive that ended with a 20-yard B.T. Potter field goal. Clemson has scored on its opening possession in nine of its last 10 games dating to last season.
- Potter also added a 46-yard field goal in the second quarter and a 44-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Potter added to his Clemson records for career field goals of 40 yards or more (29).
- Potter has now kicked three field goals in back-to-back games for the first time since the Louisville and UConn games last November.
- On his third field goal of the game, Potter (63) tied Obed Ariri (63 from 1977-80) and Chris Gardocki (63 from 1988-90) for third in Clemson history in career field goals.
- Linebacker Barrett Carter recorded his first career sack on the second half’s first play from scrimmage.
- Two plays later, defensive end Myles Murphy recorded his first sack of the game. He split another sack with Tyler Davis in the fourth quarter, pushing his career total to 13.0.
- Cornerback Toriano Pride Jr. recorded his first career interception, picking off NC State quarterback Devin Leary in the third quarter.
- Defensive end K.J. Henry recorded the fourth fumble recovery of his career on a fourth down in the fourth quarter.
- Clemson hosted NC State at Memorial Stadium for the first time since 2018. The teams’ scheduled meeting in Clemson in 2020 was canceled when the ACC released its eventual pandemic-adjusted schedule during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 1,077-day gap between Clemson home games in the series was the longest stretch between Clemson/NC State games in Death Valley since a 1,463-day gap between Wolfpack visits in 1967 and 1971.
- Clemson made its 30th appearance on ESPN's College GameDay, Clemson's 22nd appearance since 2015.
- Clemson welcomed College GameDay to its campus for the eighth time in the program's history, including special Thursday editions. Clemson improved to 7-1 at home in College GameDay feature contests.
- Clemson welcomed College GameDay six years to the day of the program's last broadcast at its traditional on-campus location on Bowman Field. That broadcast preceded Clemson's classic 42-36 win against Louisville on Oct. 1, 2016. College GameDay's two most recent visits to Clemson emanated from special in-stadium locations in 2019 (launch of ACC Network) and 2020 (COVID-19 pandemic).
- Death Valley hosted its sixth all-time game between two teams with perfect records of 4-0 or better. It was the first such matchup since 2018 against NC State, a 41-7 Clemson win. Clemson improved to 5-1 all-time in such contests at Memorial Stadium.
- Dabo Swinney tied North Carolina and Wake Forest’s Bill Dooley (191) for third-most career games as an ACC head coach. Swinney’s 191 career games as an ACC head coach already represent a Clemson record, as only 172 of Frank Howard’s 295 career games at Clemson came as a member of the ACC.
- Captains for the contest were tight end Davis Allen, defensive tackle Tyler Davis, offensive lineman Walker Parks and linebacker Trenton Simpson.
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