What a bounce back by the Tigers! Coming off one of the most
frustrating, heartbreaking losses of all time, the Tigers responded like
champions with a 31-14 win, minus 4 starters, at 4-0 Syracuse. Dabo said the
worm would turn, and it finally did—at Syracuse, of all places, where the
Tigers have usually had bizarre, fluke things hurt them in the past. The Tigers
had a fumble and a missed field goal, so they weren’t perfect, but they won the
turnover three to one, and there’s no team in America that will beat them when
It was Homecoming at Cuse, and with a 4-0 team and hopes of
a ranking next week, the dome was packed and loud for an “orange-out.” Cuse got
the ball first, and Mascoll set the tone with a massive hit on Shrader after a
first down run that forced a fumble recovered by Page. The Tigers took over at
their 45 and capitalized on the turnover. Adam Randall drew a pass interference
call on 3rd and 6, and that would be a theme in the game. Shipley ran a couple
times for 18 yards, and Cade hit Stellato on 3rd and 7 for a 14-yard touchdown.
It was the first career score for Stellato, who has been plagued with injuries
and missed the last two seasons but has already played a big role this year.
With a 7-0 lead, true freshman TJ Parker sacked Shrader on
back-to-back plays, and the Tigers forced a three-and-out. Parker is off to an
incredible start to his career, even overshadowing his fellow freshman, Peter
Woods, which nobody expected. He had help on the second sack from senior Tyler
After a three-and-out, Syracuse fumbled a pitch to the back,
and Xavier Thomas recovered it, almost scoring. It would have been the third
score by the defense in four games. At the 3-yard line, the Tigers capitalized
on the turnover again with a touchdown run by Shipley, his third score in two
games, and second rush TD of the season. I wrote in my preview that since this
was a bizarro, backwards season, maybe bad things would happen to Cuse
instead of the Tigers for once, and that’s exactly what was happening!
Down 14-0, Cuse was able to put together a 75-yard touchdown
drive to make it 14-7 and get the crowd back into it. The Tigers drove to
midfield, but on 3rd and 11, Cade was sacked for a 9-yard loss, and the Tigers
had to punt. Aided by a false start, the Tigers forced another three-and-out.
The Tigers drove all the way to the Syracuse 5, but Cade was
sacked on 4th and 2 for a turnover on downs. After Cuse missed a 57-yard field
goal attempt, Cade scrambled for 14 yards and then hit a wide-open Beaux
Collins for 47 yards and his first score of the season to make it 21-7.
The Tigers forced another three-and-out, and with 1:32 left
in the half, the Tigers looked to win the middle eight with scores before and
after halftime. The offense went back to work, and Cade hit Tyler Brown for a
27-yard completion. The freshman has been huge in the last 3 games, including
his first start against No.3 FSU last week with Antonio Williams injured. He
finished the game with 9 catches for 153 yards, both career highs. The Tigers
did a great job managing the clock, and Cade completed a 14-yard pass to
Stellato, who promptly ran out of bounds to stop the clock with 3 seconds left.
Weitz came out to attempt a 42-yard field goal to end the half and missed wide
left, just like the game-winning attempt against the Noles. The Tigers had a
14-point halftime lead, but it could have been 17 or 21 if they hadn’t run out
On 3rd and 5 to start the second half, Collins drew another big
pass interference call on third down to keep the drive alive. On the next play,
Cade completed another big pass to Brown for 47 yards to the Cuse 8-yard line.
Unfortunately, Shipley and Klubnik were tackled for losses, and the Tigers had
to send Weitz out for another field goal attempt, this time from 38 yards. From
the middle of the field, he slightly pulled it again, but he redeemed himself
by putting it through and giving the Tigers a 24-7 lead.
On 3rd and 4, Mascoll came up with a sack to force another
punt. The Tigers took over at their 12 and went three-and-out. The Tigers
forced another three-and-out thanks to a tackle-for-loss by Carter, but the
Tigers’ offense went three-and-out again. On 3rd and 8, Trotter sacked Shrader
to force another punt. The Tigers had just 2 sacks in each of the last 3 games
and none at Duke, but they got to Shrader 5 times, and he is a tough
quarterback to sack! Cade completed another long pass to Brown for 18 yards to
end the quarter, and the Tigers went into the 4th with a 17-point lead and the
Unfortunately, the turnover bug bit the Tigers once again,
as Briningstool fumbled on first down at the Cuse 42 when the Tigers were about
to put the game away. Cuse took advantage of the turnover, and completed a
35-yard pass to the Tigers’ 3. Shrader completed a wheel route to the running
back, Allen, for a touchdown with Trotter in coverage. That got Cuse back in
the game, down 24-14, and the crowd was back as well with 12:23 left.
The crowd was in full throat, looking for a three-and-out,
but Cade rolled right on 3rd and 12 and found Brown for 19 yards and another
big 3rd down conversion. Cade has grown up before our eyes over the last few
games, and that play was illustrative of his maturization. He completed another
pass to Brown for 16 yards, but the drive stalled at the Cuse 42 after a false
start by Mayes. Swanson had a great job punting the ball and, after a penalty
for running into the kicker, he forced a fair catch at the Cuse 9. With
momentum shifting and Cuse within 10 points, Trotter flipped the momentum right
back with a first-down interception at the Cuse 32. On the very next play,
Mafah broke free for a 32-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers a 31-14 lead
with 6:38 left, and the fans started to head for the exits.
The Tigers’ defense stopped Cuse on 4th and 7 for a turnover
on downs. The offense went three-and-out, but another great punt from Swanson
forced a fair catch at the Cuse 5, and the clock ran out on Cuse to end the
Dabo finally secured his 100th regular season conference
win, tying the legendary Frank Howard. Bobby Bowden is the only other coach to
reach the milestone with 117 ACC regular-season wins. The Tigers’ defense was
exceptional once again, holding the No.6 scoring offense to just 14 points
after holding FSU to 17 points. Sophomore corner Jeadyn Lukus made his first
career start with Wiggins out, and he held his own against those big Cuse
receivers. Shrader was averaging 8 yards per carry to lead all quarterbacks,
but the Tigers held him to just 24 yards on 1.6 per carry. The season-high 5
sacks gave the Tigers 504 since 2012, the most in the nation.
The Tigers are back in the win column with a home game against
Wake next week. Let’s hope the bad luck is finally behind them! I’ll have more
in a bit. In the meantime, our post-game interview with Dabo, highlights and
notes are below. Don’t forget to check The Valley forum on Sunday evening for our
Zoom call with Dabo!
WITH THE WIN...
Clemson improved to 10-2 all-time against Syracuse.
Syracuse became the 19th program against which Clemson has earned double-digit victories all-time, joining South Carolina (72), Wake Forest (70), NC State (60), Furman (44), Virginia (40), North Carolina (39), Duke (37), Georgia Tech (35), Maryland (34), The Citadel (33), Presbyterian (33), Virginia Tech (23), Boston College (21), Georgia (18), Florida State (15), Auburn (15), Wofford (13) and Davidson (11).
Clemson won a sixth straight game against Syracuse to add to the longest streak by either team in series history.
Clemson improved to 5-1 in road games at Syracuse all-time.
Clemson improved to 23-11 against undefeated teams (with a minimum of four games played) since 1970.
Clemson moved to 15-4 against undefeated teams 4-0 or better during Head Coach Dabo Swinney's tenure. Swinney improved to 14-3 against those squads since 2015.
Clemson improved to 68-7 against ACC opponents (including postseason play) since the start of the 2015 season.
Clemson earned its national-best 35th road win since 2015. Boise State can tie Clemson’s lead in that category this afternoon. Clemson is now 35-6 in true road games since 2015.
Clemson improved to 33-8 in games following a loss under Swinney, including season openers following a loss in the previous season finale.
Clemson rebounded from last week’s loss and still has not lost back-to-back games in the same season since November 2011, the nation's longest such streak. Clemson has now played 159 games since losing consecutive games in a single season.
Clemson improved to 89-10 in regular season play since the start of the 2015 season. Eight of Clemson’s 10 regular season losses in that span have been decided by a final margin of 10 or fewer points.
Clemson improved to 127-16 against AP-unranked teams under Dabo Swinney and is now 104-6 in those games since the start of the 2012 season.
Clemson is now 78-6 when scoring first since 2015.
Clemson has now won 109 of its last 114 games when leading at halftime.
Clemson is now 130-3 since 2011 when leading after three quarters.
Clemson now has a 125-6 record when totaling more first downs than its opponent since 2011.
Clemson now has a 73-4 record when winning the turnover margin since 2011.
Clemson has now won 109 of its last 110 games when holding teams under 23 points (dates to 2010).
Swinney earned his 164th career win to pull within one victory of College Football Hall of Famer Frank Howard’s career record at Clemson (165).
Swinney (100-21) tied Howard's school record for career regular season conference victories (100). Howard went 100-48-5 in conference play across the Southern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference.
Swinney (100) joined Bobby Bowden (117) as the only coaches in history to win at least 100 games in ACC regular season competition.
Swinney made Syracuse the fifth program against which he's earned 10 career victories, joining Wake Forest (14), Boston College (14), NC State (11) and Georgia Tech (11).
Syracuse entered the week in the Top 10 nationally in both scoring offense (44.3 points per game) and total offense (507.8 yards per game). Clemson held the Orange to 286 yards and 14 points.
Clemson won the turnover margin, 3-1, and finished with a 21-7 edge in points off turnovers. Clemson recorded a touchdown on all three of its defensive takeaways. Clemson is now 51-1 when finishing +2 or better in the turnover margin under Dabo Swinney.
Clemson recorded three takeaways for the second time this season and the second time in the last three weeks.
Clemson outscored Syracuse, 10-0, 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 66-2 since 2015 when outscoring opponents in the Middle Eight, including a 3-0 record when winning this metric this season and 0-2 when losing it.
Clemson has now outgained its opponent in total yards in six consecutive games for the first time since a seven-game streak to open the 2020 season.
Quarterback Cade Klubnik completed 23-of-37 passes for 263 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Clemson has now thrown no interceptions in three straight games for the first time since games 3-5 of the 2022 season.
Since a first-quarter pick-six against Charleston Southern, Clemson has thrown 137 consecutive passes without an interception (29 against Charleston Southern, 33 against Florida Atlantic, 38 against Florida State and 37 against Syracuse). Cade Klubnik has thrown 123 of the 137 passes in that span.
Wide receiver Tyler Brown recorded career highs in receptions (eight) and receiving yards (151).
Brown recorded his first career 100-yard receiving performance in his fifth career game. He became only the seventh player in Clemson history with a 100-yard receiving game within the first five games of a career, joining Artavis Scott (two games in 2014), Justyn Ross (two games in 2018), Cole Turner (two games in 2022), Sammy Watkins (three games in 2011), Derrick Hamilton (five games in 2001) and Jim Lanzendoen (five games in 1973).
Brown’s 151 receiving yards were the most by a Clemson true freshman since Justyn Ross’ 153 yards against Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game to conclude the 2018 season.
Brown’s 151 receiving yards were the most by a Clemson player of any grade classification since Cornell Powell’s 176 yards against Pitt in 2020.
Brown recorded his first career rushing attempt on a reverse in the second quarter, gaining 23 yards.
Wide receiver Troy Stellato scored his first career touchdown on a 14-yard pass from Klubnik on the Tigers’ opening drive.
Running back Will Shipley rushed 18 times for 61 yards with a touchdown.
Shipley scored a two-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter. It was his 30th overall touchdown of his career, making him the ninth player in Clemson history ever to score 30 career touchdowns.
Shipley’s touchdown (30) moved him into sole possession of the ninth-most total touchdowns in Clemson history. He is now one touchdown behind Fred Cone (31) for eighth.
The touchdown was Shipley’s 28th rushing touchdown of his career, tying Terry Allen (28 from 1978-82) for ninth in Clemson history in career rushing touchdowns.
Shipley has now rushed for a touchdown in consecutive games for the first time since a six-game streak in 2022.
Shipley (2,273) entered the Top 15 in rushing yardage in Clemson history, passing Ken Callicutt (2,256 from 1973-77) for 15th all-time.
During the contest, Shipley (3,512) also became the 12th player in Clemson history to reach 3,500 career all-purpose yards.
Clemson has now scored at least one rushing touchdown in a national-best 72 of its 74 games since the start of the 2018 season.
Wide receiver Beaux Collins added his second receiving touchdown of the season on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Klubnik in the second quarter.
The receiving touchdown was Collins’ 10th of his career. It was his fourth career touchdown of 40 yards or more, joining touchdown receptions of 46 yards at Louisville in 2021, 58 yards vs. Wake Forest in 2021 and 69 yards vs. Charleston Southern in 2023.
Running back Phil Mafah helped seal the victory with a 32-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
The rushing touchdown was Mafah’s fourth of the season, matching his single-season career high set last year (four).
Clemson recorded a season-high five sacks after entering the game with six sacks on the year.
The game was Clemson’s first performance with at least five sacks since last November against Miami (Fla).
Clemson has now posted multiple sacks in four straight games since being held without a sack in the season opener.
Clemson’s first sack of the game was the program’s 500th since the start of the 2012 season. Clemson became the first program in the country to record 500 sacks in that span.
Defensive end Justin Mascoll played his 58th career game to tie K.J. Henry's Clemson record for career games played by a defensive end.
Mascoll ended Syracuse’s opening drive with a forced fumble, the first of his career.
The fumble forced by Mascoll was recovered by defensive tackle Payton Page. It was the second fumble recovery of Page’s career and his first since 2022 at Boston College.
Defensive end T.J. Parker recorded his second sack of the season in the first quarter.
One play later, Parker and defensive tackle Tyler Davis split another sack. The half-sack was Davis’ first of the season and pushed his career sack total to 16.0.
Parker finished the game with 2.0 sacks, becoming the first Clemson true freshman with at least 2.0 sacks in a game since Myles Murphy’s 2.0 sacks in the 2020 season opener at Wake Forest.
Defensive end Xavier Thomas recorded the second fumble recovery of his career in the first quarter, picking up a missed pitch and returning it 20 yards to the Syracuse three-yard line.
The fumble recovery was the second of Thomas’ career and his first since 2019 at NC State.
Clemson recorded multiple fumble recoveries in a game for the second time this season (two at Duke).
Mascoll and linebacker Barrett Carter split a third quarter sack, the duo’s first of the 2023 season.
Defensive tackle Ruke Orhorhoro recorded his first sack of the season in the third quarter. It was his first since last year’s Orange Bowl.
Parker added another half-sack in the third quarter, splitting the stop with Jeremiah Trotter Jr.
Trotter recorded Clemson’s third takeaway of the game with an interception in the fourth quarter. It was his third career interception but his first of the season.
Clemson scored in a 272nd consecutive game to pass the 1981-2004 Washington Huskies (271) for sole possession of the 18th-longest streak of consecutive games without being shutout in FBS history.
The game was played on the 127th anniversary of the Sept. 30, 1896 formation of the Clemson College Football Association, a gathering of cadets with the intention of securing a head coach and establishing an intercollegiate football squad. The school played its first game 31 days later on Oct. 31, 1896, under the coaching of professor Walter Riggs.
Captains for the contest were tight end Jake Briningstool, safety R.J. Mickens, running back Will Shipley and punter Aidan Swanson.