TALLAHASSEE – The Tigers’ road show of record-setting
performances continued on Saturday, as they humiliated Florida State 59-10,
handing the Seminoles their worst home loss in history. It also tied the Noles’
worst-ever loss—they also lost by 49 at Florida in 1973, three years before Bobby
Bowden took over. The 59 points were the most ever allowed by FSU at home. Three
weeks ago, the Tigers won at Wake Forest 63-3 for their largest margin of
victory ever against an ACC opponent, and they followed that up with a 41-7 win
over #15 NC State, tying their second-largest victory over a ranked team.
As I predicted in my preview (READ HERE), Trevor Lawrence
threw for over 300 yards for the second straight game, but the Noles were
successful in stopping Etienne and the Tigers’ #9 rushing offense. FSU came
into the game with the #8 rush defense in the nation, so it was the second straight
week the Tigers faced a top-10 rush defense. Etienne ran for just 45 yards and
no touchdowns with FSU loading the box to stop the run. NC State did the same
thing last week and held the Heisman candidate to just 39 yards, but he scored
3 touchdowns in that game.
Just as last week, the defensive strategy opened up the
passing game for the Tigers, and Trevor Lawrence was once again equal to the task.
For the second straight game, his adrenaline got the better of him early, as he
over-threw an open Tee Higgins for a touchdown, but Lawrence settled in after
the first couple possessions.
It was a field position battle in the first quarter, with 7
punts and no points scored by either team—a first for the Tigers this season.
However, the flood gates soon opened for the Tigers in the 2nd
quarter. Trevor Lawrence connected with fellow true freshman Justyn Ross for a
41-yard completion just before the end of the 1st. After a missed field
goal by Huegel was negated on a roughing the kicker call, the Tigers finally
found the end zone on a 3rd and 5 pass to Tee Higgins. The Tigers
would score touchdowns on their next 3 possessions to open up a 28-0 lead at
the half, and the woes for the Noles were just beginning.
For the third straight game, the defense was superb, holding
the Noles without a touchdown until the final 5 minutes of the game and
allowing just 247 total yards, 20 yards less than their season average, and an
astonishing -21 rushing yards! A year ago, I wouldn’t believe the Tigers would ever go to Tallahassee and hold the
Noles to -21 yards rushing. But FSU rushing offense has been shockingly dreadful
all season. As I wrote in my preview, they came into the game ranked #125 in
the nation, with only San Jose State, Wazzou, Northwestern and Stanford ranked
lower. That’s another thing I never would have believed a year ago. Cam Akers was
one of the most recruited running backs in the nation and had a fine freshman
season last year. Jaques Patrick was also good last season, and I thought they
would be tough to stop this year, but they have really struggled. Tre Lamar caught his first career interception and returned it 43 yards. It was the Tigers' 16th straight game creating a turnover and their 4th straight game with an interception (5 total) after no interceptions in the first 4 games. The Tigers did
not allow a first-half touchdown for the 9th time in their last 12
games, and the subs were almost as good as the starters. The late touchdown by
the Noles was disappointing, but DE Xavier Kelly and DT Jordan Williams each
recorded his first career sack. Xavier Thomas collected his 3rd sack
of the season, and Albert Huggins had one as well. All-American Clelin Ferrell
tallied his 7th sack of the season, tying him for 8th in
the Power Five. The Tigers cleared their bench for the third time on the road
this season, playing all 72 players. With a tough win at Texas A&M in front
of a Gameday crowd of 105,000 at night and blowout road wins at Georgia Tech,
Wake Forest and FSU, there probably isn’t a team in the nation with a more
impressive road resume than the Tigers.
Tee Higgins followed his deadlock-breaking touchdown catch
with another one on the same route in the same spot in the end zone. He now
leads the team with 6 touchdown catches on the season. In all, he had 6 catches
for 62 yards. It was a huge game for Tee's fellow Tennessee native and best friend Amari Rodgers, though. He had touchdown
catches of 58 and 68 yards in the 3rd quarter, finishing the game
with 6 catches for 156 yards. He also had 62 yards on 3 punt returns! Rodgers
scored the first touchdown of the season for the Tigers in the opener and hadn’t
scored since until his two TD's on Saturday.
It was a special day for redshirt junior Garrett Williams
from Orlando. His father, of course, played for FSU and was involved in the
famous punt rooskie play that enabled the Noles to beat the Tigers in Death
Valley back in 1988. Dabo named Garrett one of the team captains for the game
and called a handoff to the tight end on goal-to-go that went for his first
career touchdown! Dabo could have easily called Etienne’s number to give the
Heisman candidate his nation-leading 15th touchdown of the season
but instead gave Garrett Williams a moment he will never forget!
Christian Wilkins also got in the act on offense. On 3rd
and goal from the one, the Tigers brought in their jumbo package with Wilkins
and Big Dex Lawrence. But instead of using those two as lead blockers, they
were lined up in the power I formation! Wilkins took the handoff and barreled
into the end zone, ala William “Refrigerator” Perry in the 1986 Super Bowl for
the ’85 Bears. It was Christian’s second career touchdown.
Trevor Lawrence finished the game 20-37 for 314 yards, 4
touchdowns and no interceptions. He broke Deshaun Watson’s Clemson records for
yards and touchdown passes by a true freshman. Watson might be growing frustrated
with Lawrence coming in behind him and shattering his records. Lawrence broke
Watson’s Georgia state high school records for career yards and touchdowns, and
now he has done the same at Clemson. Chase Brice also played well, going 4-7
for 90 yards and a touchdown. He led 2 touchdown drives but did have an
After getting hit on his first field goal attempt, freshman
BT Potter came out for the subsequent PAT, but Huegel did return to the game
later for a couple PAT’s, and Dabo said after the game that Huegel should be
fine. Potter made a 24-yard field goal on his first career attempt.
It was a game for the ages if you’re a fan of the Tigers and
further confirmation that Clemson is the undisputed king of the ACC. The Tigers
have now handed Miami and FSU their worst losses in history in the last 4
seasons. Clemson is the first team to beat FSU 4 straight years--a huge accomplishment for Christian Wilkins, Hunter Renfrow, Mitch Hyatt and the rest of the seniors. It's also the first time the Tigers have won consecutive games in Tallahassee. On a personal note, I have only been to Tallahasse 3 times: in 2006, 2016 and on Saturday. Those are the only 3 times the Tigers have won there since the 80's! I joke with Dabo that he should have me on the payroll with as much success as they have had since I began covering them in 2015. The Tigers have now won 7 straight games in the state of Florida: FSU
(twice), Alabama, Oklahoma (twice), Virginia Tech and Miami. Dabo is 8-0 for the 4th time and 3rd time in the last 4 years. Frank Howard, Danny Ford and Tommy Bowden each accomplished the feat just once. The Tigers’
differential in yards per game allowed and yards gained is 258.7, now #1 in the
nation just ahead of Alabama. ESPN has been saying for weeks that Alabama is on
a different planet than every other team. Well, the Tigers have put ESPN and
the Tide on notice that they are a force to be reckoned with. The first College
Football Playoff rankings will be released on Tuesday, and with Alabama idle on
Saturday, the Tide will probably be #1 just because of the national perception
and the fact that they have been #1 in the polls all season. However, if the
committee were to look strictly at the metrics and the fact that the Tigers’
strength of record is better than
Alabama’s, they would rank the Tigers #1 in their initial ranking for the 3rd
time in the last 4 years.
As usual, I’ll have Dabo’s Sunday evening teleconference for
you, so stay tuned!
The 49-point victory by Clemson was the largest home defeat suffered by Florida State, surpassing a 44-point home loss to Southern Miss on Nov. 14, 1981. It matched Florida State’s largest margin of defeat at any location in school history, equaling a 49-point loss at Florida in 1973.
Clemson’s 59 points were the most ever scored by any opponent at Florida State.
Clemson has now scored 40 points in three straight games for the first time since the final game of 2014 and the first two games of 2015. It represents Clemson's first time doing so in a single season since a four-game span in games 8-11 of the 2013 season.
Clemson’s 59 points were their most in the 32-game all-time series against Florida State, surpassing Clemson’s 40 points against the Seminoles in 2009.
Clemson played all 72 available players in the victory. Clemson has played all 72 players on the travel roster in each of its three ACC road games this season.
Clemson has now scored 163 points in its last three games, the team’s most points in a three-game span in ACC play since scoring 163 against Duke, Maryland and NC State in 2012.
Clemson has won its last three games by margins of 60, 34 and 49 points. Clemson has now won three straight games by at least 34 points for only the second time in school history and the first time since the first three games of the 2000 season.
Clemson has now gained 450 yards of offense in six straight games for the first time since a 12-game streak spanning the final 11 games of 2015 and the opener in 2016.
Clemson has now passed for 300 yards in back-to-back games for the first time since the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game to conclude the 2016 season and the 2017 season opener against Kent State. Previously, the last time Clemson had thrown for 300 yards in consecutive games in the same season was during a four-game span against NC State, Florida State, Syracuse and Pitt in 2016.
Clemson held Florida State to -21 rushing yards, breaking the mark for fewest rushing yards allowed by the Tigers in ACC play set at North Carolina on Nov. 4, 1989 (-6). The -21 rushing yards tied for the second-fewest rushing yards allowed in a game in school history, trailing only a rushing performance of -29 yards by Furman on Sept. 7, 1996.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 20-37 passes for a career-high 314 yards and tied his career high with four passing touchdowns.
With his third touchdown pass of the day, Lawrence recorded his 15th passing touchdown of the season to break Deshaun Watson’s school record for passing touchdowns by a true freshman.
During the contest, Lawrence also broke Watson's school record for passing yards by a first-year freshman (1,466).
Clemson earned its fourth victory in games started by Lawrence to tie him with Deshaun Watson's school record for wins as a starting quarterback as a true freshman (four).
Lawrence has now thrown for 300 yards in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. He is the first Clemson quarterback to do it since Watson in 2016, which coincidentally came in games against NC State and Florida State.
Wide receiver Tee Higgins finished the afternoon with 62 yards on six catches. He pushed his single-season career high in touchdown receptions this year to six.
The multi-touchdown game was Higgins’ first of the season and second of his career, matching his career high (two) set against The Citadel on Nov. 18, 2017.
Wide receiver Amari Rodgers totaled 156 yards six carries, surpassing his previous career-high of 73 rushing yards, set against Texas A&M in the second game of the season.
Higginsand Rodgers both became the first Clemson player to record multiple touchdown receptions in a single game since Hunter Renfrow at South Carolina on Nov. 25, 2017.
Higginsand Rodgers became the first Clemson duo to both catch two touchdown passes in a single game since Germone Hopper and Mike Williams against North Carolina on Sept. 27, 2014.
Clemson opened the scoring in the second quarter on a seven-yard pass from Lawrence to Higgins. Clemson improved to 34-0 when scoring first since 2015.
Higgins has now recorded a touchdown catch in three straight games, becoming the first Clemson player to accomplish the feat since Mike Williams' four-game streak in the final four regular season contests of 2016.
Higgins added his second touchdown reception of the game later in the quarter on a three-yard pass by Lawrence.
Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins recorded the first rushing touchdown of his career on a one-yard touchdown plunge in the second quarter.
The rushing touchdown is believed to be the first by a Clemson defensive lineman since the advent of the two-platoon system.
It was Wilkins’ second career offensive touchdown, joining his one-yard touchdown reception against Troy in 2016.
H-back Garrett Williams also recorded the first rushing touchdown of his career on Clemson’s next possession, scoring on a two-yard run on his first career carry.
Williams’ first career touchdown came in the stadium in which his father, Dayne, played collegiately for Florida State.
Rodgers opened the second-half scoring with a 58-yard touchdown reception, his second of the season and his first since scoring Clemson’s first points of the season in the opener against Furman.
Rodgersadded a 68-yard touchdown reception later in the quarter. All of Rodgers’ touchdown receptions this season have covered 40-plus yards.
Rodgers became the first Clemson player to catch two touchdowns of 50-plus yards in a single game since Artavis Scott against South Carolina in 2014. He joins Scott, Germone Hopper (2014 vs. North Carolina) and Craig Brantley (1974 vs. Virginia) as the only Clemson players to accomplish the feat since 1950 and the first to do so on the road.
Wide receiver T.J. Chase recorded his first career touchdown reception on a five-yardp pass from Chase Brice in the third quarter.
On a 15-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, his third of the season, running back Adam Choice reached 1,000 career rushing yards during the contest to give Clemson three active 1,000-yard career rushers on its current roster (Travis Etienne and Tavien Feaster). Only Ball State, Georgia Tech, SMU and Syracuse entered the week with three active career 1,000-yard rushers.
Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow extended his streak of consecutive games played with a reception to 36, tying Jerry Butler for the second-longest streak in school history.
Renfrow tallied four catches in the game, moving into eight in program history for career receptions with 163.
Linebacker Tre Lamar recorded his first career interception, picking off Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois in the second quarter.
With Lamar’s interception, Clemson forced a takeaway in a 16th consecutive contest, the program's longest streak since an 18-game stretch across the 2004-05 seasons.
Defensive end Clelin Ferrell recorded a sack in the first quarter to move past Brentson Buckner and Bryant McNeal (22.0 each) for seventh-most career sacks in Clemson history.
Ferrell recorded the fourth forced fumble of his career on the play.
Linebacker Isaiah Simmons added his second forced fumble of the season, the third of his career, in the second quarter.
Defensive tackle Albert Huggins pushed his career sack total to 6.0 with a third-quarter sack of Francois.
Defensive tackle Jordan Williams recorded the first full sack of his career in the third quarter.
Defensive end Xavier Thomas notched his third sack of his freshman season in the fourth quarter.
Defensive tackle Xavier Kelly recorded his first sack of the season, the second of his career, during the contest.
Tackle Mitch Hyatt made his 50th career start to break Landon Walker's school record for career starts by an offensive tackle and the school record for most starts by any offensive lineman (49), shared by Walker and Dalton Freeman.
Hyatt became the first position player in Clemson history to record 50 career starts. He is now only two starts shy of Clemson's all-time record of 52, set by kicker Chandler Catanzaro.
Rodgers recorded punt returns of 29 yards and 34 yards in the second quarter, giving him four punt returns of 20 or more yards this season.
With his third point of the game, kicker Greg Huegel passed Aaron Hunt (329 from 2000-03) for second on the program's all-time career scoring list.
Kicker B.T. Potter recorded his first career field goal, converting on a 24-yard opportunity in the third quarter.
Clemson outrushed an opponent for the seventh time in eight games this season. The Tigers have outrushed opponents in 18 of their 22 games since 2017 and are 18-0 when outrushing opponents in that time frame.
Clemson’s 28 points in the second quarter were the most points in a quarter since Sept. 12, 2015 when the Tigers pinned 28 second-quarter points on Appalachian State.
After a scoreless first quarter, Clemson held a 28-0 lead at halftime. Clemson has now outscored opponents by 108 points in the second quarter of games this season, their largest point differential in any single quarter this season.
Clemson is now 92-8 when leading at halftime under Head Coach Dabo Swinney, including a perfect 18-0 mark since 2017.
Clemson shut out an opponent in the first half for the third straight game and the fifth time this season. Dating back to last year, Clemson has shut out its opponents in the first half of nine of its last 13 games (24-0 vs. Florida State, 24-0 vs. NC State, 28-0 vs. Wake Forest, 21-0 vs. Georgia Southern and 27-0 vs. Furman in 2018; 21-0 vs. Miami, 20-0 vs. South Carolina, 38-0 vs. The Citadel and 17-0 vs. Florida State in 2017).
Clemson’s captains for the contest were defensive end Austin Bryant, running back Adam Choice, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and tight end Garrett Williams.
WITH THE WIN…
Clemson has now opened a season 8-0 for the seventh time in program history and the third time in the last four years (1948, 1981, 2000, 2011, 2015, 2016 and 2018). Clemson earned conference titles in five of the previous six seasons in which it opened 8-0.
Clemson has now won the first eight games of a season for the fourth time under Head Coach Dabo Swinney (2011, 2015, 2016 and 2018). All other coaches in Clemson history have combined for three 8-0 starts, including one each by Frank Howard, Danny Ford and Tommy Bowden.
Clemson has now won four consecutive games against Florida State for the first time in series history. Clemson's four-game winning streak against the Seminoles surpassed the Tigers' previous longest in series history, beating a three-game streak from 2005-07.
Clemson became the first school to defeat Florida State in ACC play in four consecutive years. Miami previously accomplished the feat prior to joining the ACC.
Clemson earned its 12th all-time victory against Florida State.
Clemson defeated the Seminoles in Tallahassee for the fifth time in history (1976, 1989, 2006, 2016 and 2018) and has now won back-to-back games in Tallahassee for the first time in series history.
Clemson bucked a series trend that had seen the home team win 13 of the last 16 games between the two programs prior to Saturday. Of the three previous wins by the visiting teams, two of those squads went on to win the National Championship (Florida State in 2013, Clemson in 2016).
Head Coach Dabo Swinney pushed his all-time record against Florida State to 6-5.
Clemson secured its 18th victory in its last 19 true road games.
Clemson earned its 25th victory in its last 28 games away from home, including neutral site contests.
Clemson earned its seventh consecutive victory in the state of Florida, dating back to a 40-6 win against Oklahoma in the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. Clemson won in the state of Florida for the first time since winning the national championship in Tampa to conclude the 2016 season.
Clemson won the 26th of its last 27 games against ACC Atlantic Division opponents.
Clemson defeated an ACC foe for the 30th time in its last 32 opportunities, including conference championship games, dating back to 2015.
Clemson has now won 59 of their last 61 when leading at halftime.
Clemson improved to 80-2 since 2011 when leading after three quarters.
Clemson recorded a 25-14 advantage in first downs and is now 81-2 when recording more first downs than their opponent since 2011.
Clemson won the turnover margin, 2-1, and now has a 42-3 mark when winning the turnover margin since 2011.
Clemson extended its winning streak in Saturday games to 24 to extend the longest Saturday winning streak in school history. The 24-game streak is the longest of any school in the country.
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