RALEIGH, NC - Oops, they did it again. I never thought I'd use a Britney Spears reference, but it seemed appropriate. For the fourth time this season, the Tigers lost because of a catastrophic turnover--this time a pick-six on a deflected pass. I feel like a broken record, writing the same thing over and over again, and it's getting very tiresome.
The Tigers out-gained State 364 to 202, and 122 of the 202 yards came on 2 plays: a coverage bust and a missed tackle! I don't know what to do at this point other than to laugh in frustration. This is the most bizarre season I've ever heard of, but I guess it had to be for the 12-year streak of 10 or more wins to come to an end. It's the third-longest streak in history behind Bama and FSU. The next-longest active streak is TWO! That illustrates just how hard it is to win 10 or more games even 3 straight years, let alone 12. A lot of fans don't realize or appreciate the magnitude of what they've witnessed. It could be 50 years or more before another program puts together a 10-win streak like we saw from Dabo and the Tigers. It's the first consecutive losses in the same season since 2011, first consecutive ACC losses since 2010. The Tigers have out-gained every team they've played this season except Miami. They had 17 yards less than the Canes in the double-overtime road loss.
I keep thinking that eventually the worm has to turn, as Dabo has said, but perhaps it won't this season. I don't know if this season is cursed or what, but somehow the Tigers keep finding a way to lose close games by virtue of mistakes, fluke plays, injuries or all of the above. The only thing in my experience that I can compare it to is the Tommy Bowden years, when they were so close to winning several division titles, but fluke plays, mistakes or bad calls by Ron Cherry kept preventing it year after year. God turned that into a blessing in disguise because it's the only reason Dabo became the head coach. I can't wait to see the lemonade He makes out of this lemon of a season!
I'll have more in a bit after I watch the film. In the meantime, our post-game interviews, highlights and notes are below!
Clemson limited NC State to 202 yards. Clemson had won its last 65 games when holding opponents to 202 or fewer yards. Its last such loss came in 1988 at NC State (185 yards allowed in 10-3 loss).
Clemson outgained NC State, 364-202, a 162-yard margin. Clemson had won its last 44 games when outgaining opponents by 162 or more yards. Clemson’s last such loss came in 2016 against Pitt (+166 in 43-42 loss).
Clemson held a 21-9 edge in first downs but now has a 126-8 record when totaling more first downs than its opponent since 2011.
Clemson had been undefeated under Dabo Swinney in games in which it held opponents to single-digit first downs. It was Clemson’s first loss when holding an opponent to nine or fewer first downs since 2007 (nine against Virginia Tech in 41-23 loss).
Clemson held NC State to 138 passing yards and has now held four straight opponents to fewer than 200 passing yards for the first time since a 10-game streak in 2019.
Running back Phil Mafah rushed 16 times for 84 yards with two touchdowns.
The game was Mafah’s second multi-touchdown game of his career, as his two rushing touchdowns tied his career high set against Charleston Southern on Sept. 9.
Mafah recorded his career-high fifth touchdown run of the season on a one-yard plunge in the second quarter. The rushing touchdown was the culmination of a nine-play, 75-yard drive.
Mafah extended his single-season career high with his sixth touchdown of the season on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter.
With Mafah’s scores, Clemson has now scored at least one rushing touchdown in a national-best 74 of its 77 games since the start of the 2018 season.
Quarterback Cade Klubnik completed 33-of-50 passes for 263 yards.
Klubnik’s 33 completions were a career-high and tied for the eighth-most in school history. They were the most by a Clemson quarterback since the Sugar Bowl to end the 2020 season (33 by Trevor Lawrence).
Klubnik’s 50 pass attempts were four shy of his career high of 54 attempts set in last year’s Orange Bowl.
Tight end Jake Briningstool recorded a career-high eight receptions for 93 yards. Briningstool has combined for 13 receptions for 219 yards over Clemson’s last two contests.
Wide receiver Adam Randall matched his career high with three receptions, gaining 23 yards.
Wide receiver Troy Stellato gained 29 yards on a career-high seven receptions.
Tight end Sage Ennis recorded a career-long 28-yard reception in the third quarter.
Defensive end Ruke Orhorhoro recorded his third sack of the season in the first quarter. He now has a full sack in three of Clemson’s last four games.
Linebacker Wade Woodaz added to his single-season career high with his third sack of the season in the second quarter.
Linebacker Barrett Carter recorded his second sack of the season in the third quarter.
Defensive tackle Tyler Davis made his 47th career start to tie five other players for the eighth-most in Clemson history. Last week, he set the Clemson record for starts by a defensive tackle.
During the contest, center Will Putnam passed Landon Walker (3,131) for third-most career snaps from scrimmage in school history.
The game concluded Clemson’s streak of 161 games since losing consecutive games in a single season, a streak that dated to November 2011. The 161-game span was a Clemson record and had been the nation’s longest active streak.
Clemson is now 33-9 in games following a loss under Swinney, including season openers following a loss in the previous season finale.
Clemson is now 60-30-1 all-time against NC State and dropped to 17-3 in its last 20 meetings with the Wolfpack.
Clemson trailed at halftime, 10-7. It was Clemson’s first time this season trailing after two quarters.
Captains for the contest were wide receiver Beaux Collins, defensive tackle Ruke Orhorhoro, running back Will Shipley and linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr.