TALLAHASSEE, FL – WHEW! The game got a little dicey at the
end, but the Tigers hung on. In the interest of full disclosure, I probably
jinxed the Tigers late in the 4th quarter when I was bragging about my 34-20
score prediction being one point off. Right after that, the Noles drove 94
yards for a touchdown with 2 minutes left! As Dabo says, though, the fun’s in
the winning, and a win is a win. Let the pollsters punish the Tigers all they
want because their votes don’t matter in November and December. As long as the
Tigers win every game by at least a point, they’ll be in the playoff. That
being said, I know Dabo wasn’t happy about the way they finished, and the team
will get better from it. In retrospect, how huge was that goal line stand by
the Tigers in the 4th quarter when they were up 20 points?! Of course, I’m sure
they would have played the last couple of FSU possessions with much more
urgency if they had allowed the Noles to score on that possession. But to me,
that goal line stand says all you need to know about the heart and character of
this team. How many teams would have rolled over and allowed the easy score when
they are up 20 points in the 4th quarter, and it’s first and goal at the 4-yard
line? The answer is most of them. The bright side of the final score is that it
counts as another one-score win, so the Tigers are now 34-7 in one-score games
I wrote in my preview that the Tigers would get the Noles’
best shot and that they would play a much cleaner game than they did last week
at NC State. Sure enough, the game couldn’t have started any better for the
Noles. They ran the ball right down the Tigers’ throat with a nicely scripted
opening drive, striking first to make it 7-0. That sent the crowd into a frenzy,
and to make matters worse, the Tigers went 3 and out, thanks in part to a
personal foul on freshman OT Blake Miller, losing his cool after a play.
Fortunately, the Tigers’ defense rose up with a 3 and out on the following
possession, and the offense was able to tie the game. On 3rd and one, Shipley
ran for a first down, and then DJ avoided a sack and made a perfect pass to Antonio
Williams, who was streaking down the sideline, for a touchdown. The true
freshman has really emerged as one of DJ’s go-to weapons.
The Noles answered with another touchdown to retake the lead
14-7, just barely converting on a 4th and goal play from the one-yard line to open
the 2nd quarter. On 3rd and 7, DJ made another great throw on an outside-shoulder
pass to Ngata on the sideline for 19 yards DJ took a bad sack on the next play,
but Mafah ran for 14 yards to make 3rd and 2. It took DJ a couple of efforts,
but he was able to rush for first down on 4th and one. He followed that with a
completion to Shipley for 11 yards and a big 3rd and 4 pass to Antonio Williams
for 17 more. That set the Tigers up with first and goal at the FSU 8-yard line,
and DJ found Jake Briningstool at the pylon to tie the game. It was the 4th TD
of the season for the sophomore tight end and his 3rd in the last 4 games! It
was an impressive answer after the Noles and their crowd gained momentum and
confidence from retaking the lead. The Tigers went on to score 27 unanswered
points, once again dominating the “middle 8,” or the last 4 minutes of the
first half and first 4 minutes of the second. It’s the 3rd straight game in
which they’ve done that, and it not only deflated the Noles but took the crowd
completely out of the game. After BT Potter hit a 47-yard field goal to give
the Tigers their first lead of the game, Myles Murphy forced a fumble recovered
by Tyler Davis, and that gave them the ball at the Noles’ 47-yard line with 42
seconds left in the half. That was all DJ and the offense would need to get
into the end zone because Shipley ran for 36 yards to the 6-yard line on the
very next play, and DJ took a bootleg in for his 4th rush TD of the season to
give the Tigers a 24-10 lead going into the locker room.
Whatever Dabo has been telling the team at halftime, it’s
been working! For the 3rd straight week, they roared out of the locker room. Shipley
picked up right where he left off, bursting a 65-yard kickoff return from the
goal line to open the half. Dabo decided it was the perfect time to go for the
jugular. With the ball on the right hash at the Noles’ 31-yard line, the Tigers
ran a reverse flea-flicker and executed it to absolute perfection! DJ’s pass
was right on the money to tight end Davis Allen, who snuck out of the backfield
and was streaking down the sideline. DJ hit him in stride to put the Tigers up
31-14, and the crowd was completely out of the game at that point.
How about the game Myles Murphy had? The No.1 NFL prospect at DE started the season a little slow, but he's really come on over the last few games. He had 6 tackles, 2 sacks, 1.5 tackles-for-loss and a forced fumble against the Noles. Bryan Bresee was back in the lineup but doesn't quite appear to be 100 percent yet after missing the last couple games with a kidney infection, and he had missed 3 of the last 4 games. He missed a couple tackles, including a sack or two, and that's rare for him!
The Tigers’ defense continued to dominate in the 3rd
quarter, and Potter tacked on another field goal to give the Tigers the
20-point lead in the 4th quarter, which would be enough to win. Sure, it would
have been nice for the Tigers to have kept the pedal to the metal and win by 4
touchdowns, but give credit to Jordan Travis and FSU for not giving up and
continuing to fight. They showed a lot of fight and heart on both sides of the
ball. Any of the other FSU teams over the last 5 years would have rolled over,
and it would have been another Clemson blowout in Tallahassee. We’ll have to
wait another week for the Tigers to put together their first complete
four-quarter performance of the season. Next week would be a good time for it
against a top-15, undefeated Syracuse team!
The Tigers seemed to come out of the game in pretty good
shape. They had the entire defensive line for the first time all season and
almost everyone back in the secondary. CB's Malcolm Greene and Sheridan Jones were back for the first time in weeks, along with safeties Mickens and
Venables. Unfortunately, safety Jalyn Phillips took a bad hit in the second
half from Trenton Simpson on the sideline. His arm was hanging as he jogged off the field, but he came back, so hopefully he's ok. They don't need to lose him now that they've finally gotten all the safties and corners back! I noticed Xavier Thomas limping with his shoe off right after the game, but his
foot is probably just sore. He said that it was sore last week after playing
just 6 snaps at BC, and he played a lot more tonight. I’m sure he’ll be dealing
with post-game soreness for a while.
It was another great game for DJ, He was 15-23 for 229 total yards with 3 TD's through the air and one on the ground with no interceptions. And how about the game by Shipley! He didn't score, which is rare, but he had 238 all-purpose yards, including the first down run at the end, allowing the Tigers to run out the clock. He had too many first down conversions to count! Mafah also had another good game with Pace out. He's had several big plays over the last few games.
The Tigers extended the nation's longest win streak to 13 and, with no more ACC road games, have all but sealed the division title, which they can officially clinch by beating Syracuse and Louisville in Death Valley. They are now 34-7 in one-score games since 2011 and have won 65 straight when leading at the half! Both of those are best in the nation.
Finally, what a classy and moving gesture by FSU, painting a tribute to the Bresee family just outside the Tigers' tunnel! See our photo below. I asked Dabo about it after the game, and he was very moved by it. He said that when he first noticed it, he ran into the locker room and grabbed Bryan to show him. It just shows that some things transcend sports rivalries!
I’ll have more in a bit. In the meantime, post-game
interviews, highlighting and notes are below!
WITH THE WIN...
Clemson extended the nation's longest active winning streak to 13 games.
Clemson tied the fourth-longest winning streak in Clemson history, matching 13-game streaks across both the 1939-40 seasons and the 1980-81 seasons.
Clemson has now opened a season 7-0 for the 10th time in program history, joining the 1948, 1981, 2000, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Clemson has now won seven consecutive games against Florida State for the first time in series history. It represents the second-longest winning streak against the Seminoles by an opponent all-time, trailing Florida’s eight-game winning streak against FSU from 1968-76.
Clemson, which was already the first school to defeat Florida State in ACC play in six consecutive games, pushed that winning streak to seven straight games.
Clemson earned its 15th all-time victory against Florida State and its sixth all-time victory in Tallahassee.
Clemson won a third consecutive game at Doak Campbell Stadium for the first time in series history.
Clemson became only the fifth program ever to win three consecutive road games against Florida State in Tallahassee, joining Florida (six straight from 1966-76, three from 1982-86 and 2004-08), Houston (four from 1966-78), Memphis (three from 1969-75) and Miami (Fla.) (five from 1957-77 and four from 1981-87).
Clemson improved to 46-2 in its last 48 games against ACC Atlantic Division teams, including games against typical Atlantic division foes in the division-free season in 2020.
Clemson improved to 34-4 in true road games since 2015.
Clemson concluded its 2022 road conference slate at 4-0.
Clemson earned its sixth consecutive road win, the third-longest active streak in the country.
Clemson won its 38th consecutive game against unranked opponents when ranked in the AP Top 5, the longest active streak in college football according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Clemson improved to 122-13 against AP-unranked teams under Dabo Swinney. Clemson is now 99-3 against unranked teams since the start of the 2012 season.
Clemson improved to 45-7 at night since 2015, including a 26-4 record in night games since the start of the 2018 season.
Clemson has now won 103 of its last 105 games, including each of its last 66, when leading at halftime.
Clemson improved to 124-2 since 2011 when leading after three quarters.
Clemson has now won 34 of its last 41 one-possession games since 2011, the highest winning percentage (.829) in the country in one-score games in that span.
Clemson now has a 70-4 record when winning the turnover margin since 2011.
Head Coach Dabo Swinney improved to 50-20 in true road games, joining Frank Howard (72) as the only head coaches to win 50 career road games with Clemson.
Swinney won his 200th overall game as a Clemson coach of any kind, including his 43 wins as an assistant coach from 2003-08.
Entering the final four minutes of the first half, the teams were tied 14-14. Clemson then outscored Florida State, 17-0, in the “Middle Eight,” defined as the final four minutes of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half. Clemson is now 61-2 since 2015 when outscoring opponents in the Middle Eight.
Across the first, second and third quarters, Clemson scored on six consecutive drives. It was Clemson’s first time scoring on six straight drives since the first six drives of Clemson’s 2020 win against The Citadel. Clemson’s run of six drives turned a 7-0 deficit into a 34-14 lead.
Clemson reached the 30-point mark for the 12th time in a 13-game span, dating to last season.
Clemson has now scored 30 points in seven consecutive games for the first time since an 11-game streak to open the 2020 season. The 2022 season represents only the third time in program history that Clemson has opened a season with seven straight 30-point performances (2000 and 2020).
Clemson has now played Florida State 35 times. Clemson scored 30 or more points six times in the first 29 games of the series but has now scored at least 30 points in each of the teams’ last six meetings.
Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei completed 15-of-23 passes for 203 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Uiagalelei improved to 18-4 as a starter, tying Harvey White (18-7 from 1957-59) for the 12th-most wins by a Clemson starting quarterback since World War II.
With 203 passing yards in the game, Uiagalelei (4,825) passed Rodney Williams (4,647 from 1985-88) and Kyle Parker (4,739 from 2009-10) for eighth on Clemson's all-time leaderboard for career passing yards.
Uiagalelei connected with wide receiver Antonio Williams for a 59-yard touchdown pass on Clemson’s second possession.
The 59-yard pass to Williams was the longest reception of Williams’ career and Clemson’s longest play of the season.
The 59-yarder to Williams was Clemson’s longest pass play since Trevor Lawrence's 67-yard touchdown pass to Amari Rodgers against Notre Dame in the 2020 ACC Championship Game.
Williams finished the game with a career-high 76 yards on two receptions.
On the first-quarter touchdown pass to Wiliams, Uiagalelei (31) passed Mike Eppley (28 from 1980-84) for sole possession of the ninth-most career touchdown passes in Clemson history. He is now one touchdown shy of tying Kyle Parker (32 from 2009-10) for eighth on that list.
On a five-yard touchdown run with 19 seconds remaining in the first half, Uiagalelei tied his single-season career high set in both 2020 and 2021 (four).
Uiagalelei (12) tied Rodney Williams (12 from 1985-88) for the seventh-most career rushing touchdowns by a Clemson quarterback since 1953.
Clemson has now rushed for a touchdown in 18 consecutive games. Since the start of the 2018 season, Clemson has scored at least one rushing touchdown in 61 of its 62 games.
Tight end Jake Briningstool added to his single-season career high by recording his fourth touchdown reception of the season on a seven-yard pass from Uiagalelei in the second quarter.
Tight end Davis Allen added his third touchdown reception of the season on a 31-yard reverse flea flicker pass from Uiagalelei.
The touchdown catch with the 10th of Allen’s career, becoming the sixth tight end in Clemson history to reach 10 career touchdown receptions, joining Jordan Leggett (18 from 2013-16), John McMakin (12 from 1969-71), Dwayne Allen (12 from 2009-11), Brandon Ford (12 from 2009-12) and Bennie Cunningham (10 from 1972-75).
Clemson was 3-for-3 in the red zone and is a perfect 35-for-35 on red zone scoring this season.
Clemson was outrushed, 206-167, ending a streak of 10 consecutive games in which Clemson outrushed its opponent, the longest such streak under Dabo Swinney.
Clemson won despite Florida State recording 28 first downs to Clemson’s 18. It was Clemson’s first time winning a game despite a -10 or worse margin in first downs since 2018 at Texas A&M (-11).
Running back Will Shipley recorded a career-high 238 all-purpose yards, including 121 rushing yards on 20 carries, 48 receiving yards on a career-high six receptions and a 69-yard kickoff return.
Shipley posted the first 200-yard game in all-purpose yardage in his career. It was the highest all-purpose yardage total by a Clemson player since Travis Etienne’s 264 against Boston College in 2020.
The game was Shipley’s sixth career 100-yard rushing game and his third of the 2022 season. Clemson is now 59-2 when having a 100-yard rusher since 2011, including a 6-0 record when Shipley hits the mark.
Defensive end Myles Murphy recorded his fourth sack of the season, the 15th of his career, in the first quarter.
Murphy forced the game’s first turnover, stripping Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis of the ball on Murphy’s second sack of the game.
Murphy’s 2.0 sacks tied his single-game career high set at Wake Forest in 2020 and vs. Florida State in 2021.
Including Xavier Thomas’ two-sack performance with a forced fumble at Boston College last week, Murphy’s performance Saturday gave Clemson a player with two or more sacks and a forced fumble in multiple games in a season for the first time since 2013, when Vic Beasley recorded two such games.
The forced fumble was Murphy’s first of the season but the sixth of his career. He is now one forced fumble shy of tying Levon Kirkland, Keith Adams and Vic Beasley (seven each) for seventh-most in a career in Clemson history.
The fumble was recovered by defensive tackle Tyler Davis, his first fumble recovery of the season and the third of his career.
Cornerback Nate Wiggins finished the game with two pass breakups, giving him multiple pass breakups in three consecutive games. He became the first Clemson player to record multiple pass breakups in three straight games since K’Von Wallace accomplished the feat against South Carolina, Virginia and Ohio State late in the 2019 season.
Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. recorded a career-high 13 tackles, the most by any Clemson player in a game this season.
With 10 points in the game, placekicker B.T. Potter (413 career points) passed Chandler Catanzaro (404 from 2010-13) to become the highest-scoring kicker in Clemson history. He trails only running back Travis Etienne (468) in career points in Clemson history.
Potter converted a 47-yard field goal late in the second quarter to give Clemson its first lead of the game. Potter added to his Clemson records for career field goals of 40 yards or more (30). He would later add a 34-yard field goal as well.
Shipley recorded a season-long 69-yard kickoff return on the opening kickoff of the third quarter. It was six yards shy of his career long of 75, set at Louisville last year.
Clemson stopped a fake punt attempt in the third quarter. Clemson has not surrendered a first down on a fake punt since December 2016.
Clemson did not turn the ball over and has only one giveaway across its last four games.
Clemson became the first team to play in the prime-time ABC television window in three consecutive weeks since the 2015 Oklahoma Sooners.
Florida State scored first, ending a streak of nine consecutive games in which Clemson had scored first.
Clemson won the turnover margin, 1-0, and finished even or positive in the turnover margin for an 11th consecutive game, dating to last season. It represents Clemson's first time doing so since an 11-game streak across the 1996-97 seasons. Clemson's last game in which it lost the turnover margin was on Nov. 6 last season at Louisville.
Clemson and Florida State entered the game having represented the conference in the ACC Championship Game 12 times in 13 years since 2009, Dabo Swinney’s first full season as the Tigers’ head coach. Clemson represented the division (or earned a divisionless berth in 2020) in the championship game eight times in those 13 years. Florida State represented the division in four title games, and Wake Forest broke the duo’s stranglehold on berths in 2021. The Tigers and Seminoles have combined for 10 of the last 11 ACC titles.
Clemson completed its lone set of back-to-back true road games on the schedule this season. Four of Clemson's last five regular season games will be played at home.
Clemson played its fifth night game in the first seven games of a season for the first time since 1949. Clemson's five night games this season are already tied for ninth-most in a full season in Clemson history.
Captains for the contest were defensive tackle Tyler Davis, offensive lineman Will Putnam, defensive end Xavier Thomas and quarterback DJ Uiagalelei.