CLEMSON, SC – No.2 Clemson clinched its fourth consecutive
Atlantic Division Title and ACC Championship berth in dominant fashion on
Saturday night in Chestnut Hill, beating No.17 Boston College 27-7 in front of
a sellout crowd. The Tigers are 10-0 for just the fourth time in program
history but the second time in the last four years. It is their 8th
straight 10-win season, tying them with Miami and Virginia Tech for the fourth-longest
streak all time. The Tigers will take home the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy for the
8th straight year and the 10th time in the last 11 years.
The Tigers were not as sharp offensively as they had been in
their last four games, failing to convert on their first three 3rd
downs in the red zone. However, the defense was as good as they’ve been in those
four blowout wins and then some. They did not allow a single point and held BC
to just 113 total yards. Every time the Eagles got a stop, the Tigers’ defense
was able to get the ball back and keep the crowd out of the game. The Tigers
have not allowed a first-half touchdown in 12 of their last 15 games. Starting Boston
College quarterback Anthony Brown was knocked out of the game in the first
quarter, and that obviously was an impediment to the Eagles’ offense, but the
Tigers did an outstanding job containing All-American RB AJ Dillon as well. He rushed
for just 39 yards, averaging 2.4 yards per carry. The Tigers held Dillon to 57
yards on 18 carries last season. Boston College was just 3 of 16 on 3rd
down, and the Tigers had 4 sacks and 10 tackles-for-loss. Ironically, the
Tigers failed to create a turnover, breaking a streak of 17 straight games.
Despite all the talk about Trevor Lawrence playing in the
coldest conditions he’s ever faced, the true freshman was superb and was chosen
to wear the leather helmet as the MVP of the game. Christian Wilkins was
visibly upset that he didn’t get to don the leather helmet in his last meeting
against his childhood favorite team, but he was also proud of his teammate.
Trevor was 29-40 for 295 yards with one touchdown pass and an interception, which
came late in the game. He also scored his first career rushing touchdown on a well-executed
bootleg in which he fooled the entire defense.
The “Fridge Package” is now 3-3 this season, and the coaches
have added a wrinkle each time. Rather than hand the ball off to Wilkins or Big
Dex in the I formation, this time Trevor faked the handoff and threw a pass
over the top to TE Milan Richard. The play was run to perfection, and that
package is going to be a nightmare for opponents to defend. The Tigers ran the
play on 4th and 2, and it was their first touchdown of the game.
Hunter Renfrow probably played his best game of the season,
with 8 catches for 80 yards—both season highs. He caught a pass in his 38th
consecutive game, tying the Clemson record set by Artavis Scott. Amari Rodgers
also had a big game, catching 5 passes for 63 yards, but his biggest play was a
back-breaking 58-yard punt return touchdown that put the Tigers ahead 27-7. It
was Amari’s first punt return touchdown after coming close to going the
distance several times this season. Rodgers muffed a punt earlier in the game
on a missed interference call by the officials, so the touchdown was a nice
redemption for him.
Other than the red zone struggles, the biggest negative for
the Tigers was the punt return touchdown they allowed after a rugby-style punt
by Will Spiers. The Tigers allowed a kickoff return touchdown in the second
half last week, so the coverage team has some work to do.
Mitch Hyatt left the game for a few series in the first half
with a shoulder stinger, but freshman Jackson Carman played well in his
absence, and Hyatt later returned in the second half.
Wilkins, Bryant, Renfrow, Hyatt, Huegel and the rest of the
seniors tied last year’s senior class with 50 wins—the most by any class in Clemson
history. They are also, of course, the first group to play in 4 consecutive ACC
Championship Games. The Tigers will host Duke next week on Military
Appreciation Day, and the ACC has just announced that the game will have a 7:00
kickoff on ESPN.
As always, we’ll have our Sunday evening teleconference with
Dabo, and I’ll post the audio for you shortly after. Stay tuned!
WITH THE WIN…
Clemson won the ACC Atlantic crown for the fourth consecutive season to become the first team since the formation of the conference's divisions to win four straight division titles.
With the division title, Clemson will appear in the ACC Championship Game for the sixth time, the most of any ACC Atlantic program. In doing so, it will tie Virginia Tech for the most ACC Championship Game appearances in either division.
Overall, the division title is Clemson’s seventh, including a co-championship in 2012 in which the Tigers did not appear in the ACC Championship Game.
Clemson opened a season 10-0 for the fourth time in program history, joining 10-0 starts in 1948, 1981 and 2015. Including ties, it is Clemson's fifth undefeated start through 10 games, including a 9-0-1 season in 1950.
Clemson won the first 10 games of a season for the second time under Head Coach Dabo Swinney (2015). Swinney became the first coach in Clemson history to coach the school to multiple 10-0 starts, as legendary coaches Frank Howard and Danny Ford only accomplished the feat once each, in 1948 and 1981, respectively.
Clemson has now won 10 games for an eighth consecutive year, adding to its current school-record streak. In pushing the streak of 10-win seasons to eight, Clemson tied Miami (1985-92) and Virginia Tech (2004-11) for the fourth-longest streak of 10-win seasons in FBS history.
Clemson’s 10 wins this season are tied for the ninth-most wins in a season in team history.
Clemson won its 50th game in the last four years to tie the 2018 senior class with the 2017 senior class for the most wins in school history. It also tied that group for the most wins of any class in ACC history.
Clemson played its final true road game of the season and finished undefeated in true road games for the third time in a four-year span for the first time in school history.
Clemson secured its 19th victory in its last 20 true road games.
Clemson earned its 26th victory in its last 29 games away from home, including neutral site contests.
Clemson won its eighth consecutive game against Boston College, dating back to 2011. Clemson’s eight-game winning streak over Boston College is its second-longest active streak against an ACC opponent (10, Wake Forest).
Clemson is now 17-9-2 against Boston College all-time, including a 10-4 mark against since the Eagles joined the ACC in 2005.
Clemson has now four straight road games at Boston College for the first time in school history. Clemson had previously posted a three-game road winning streaks in the series across the 1948-52 seasons.
Head Coach Dabo Swinney improved to 10-1 against Boston College. His 10 wins against the Eagles are tied for his most against any single opponent (10, Wake Forest).
Clemson won the 28th of its last 29 games against ACC Atlantic Division opponents.
Clemson defeated an ACC foe for the 32nd time in its last 34 opportunities, including conference championship games, dating back to 2015.
Clemson improved to 36-0 when scoring first since 2015.
Clemson led, 13-7, at halftime, and has now won 61 of its last 63 games when leading at halftime.
With a 20-7 lead after three quarters, Clemson also improved to 82-2 since 2011 when leading entering the fourth quarter.
Clemson held a 19-8 advantage in first downs and has now posted an 83-2 record when recording more first downs than its opponent since 2011.
Clemson extended its winning streak in Saturday games to 26 to extend the longest Saturday winning streak in school history. The current 26-game streak is the longest of any school in the country.
Clemson has now won 64 straight games when holding teams under 23 points, dating back to 2010.
Clemson improved to 12-7 in contests featured on ESPN’s College GameDay. Clemson has won its last eight games featured on College GameDay, dating back to 2016 (vs. Louisville, Ohio State and Alabama in 2016; vs. Louisville, Virginia Tech and Miami in 2017; Texas A&M and Boston College in 2018).
Clemson’s eight-game winning streak in College GameDay-featured contests is the longest active streak in the nation.
Clemson outgained Boston College, 424-113. The 113 yards surrendered by the Tigers were the second-fewest allowed by Clemson against Boston College since the Eagles joined the ACC, trailing only a 54-yard defensive performance in 2009.
Clemson held the Eagles to nine yards rushing, 216 yards below Boston College’s season average entering the game.
The nine rushing yards allowed are the second-fewest by Clemson this season, trailing the team’s performance at Florida State (-21).
With 129 rushing yards on offense, Clemson outrushed an opponent for the ninth time this season. The Tigers have now outrushed opponents in 20 of their 24 games since 2017 and are 20-0 when outrushing opponents in that time frame.
During the contest, Clemson surpassed 5,000 yards of offense on the season, the 15th 5,000-yard season in school history.
Clemson forced 12 Boston College punts, matching the most by a Clemson opponent this season set at Wake Forest and at Florida State.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence posted career highs in completions (29) and pass attempts (40) for 295 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Lawrence was the recipient of the Leather Helmet Award as the game’s most valuable player as awarded by the Boston College Gridiron Club.
During the contest, Lawrence broke Deshaun Watson's school record for total offense by a true freshman (1,666 in 2014).
Lawrence recorded his first career rushing touchdown on a six-yard scoring rush in the third quarter.
On his first carry, running back TravisEtiennereached 1,000 rushing yards on the year. His 1,076 rushing yards this year represent the 21st 1,000-yard rushing season in school history.
Etienne reached the 1,000-yard rushing milestone in his 10th game of the season to mark the ninth time in school history that a Clemson player has rushed for 1,000 yards in a season in as few as 10 games.
Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow recorded season highs in receptions (8) and receiving yards (80).
During the contest, Renfrow (172) passed Rod Gardner (166) and Derrick Hamilton (167) for sixth on the school's leaderboard for career receptions.
On a 13-yard reception in the first quarter, Renfrowtied Artavis Scott's team record of 38 consecutive games with a reception from 2014-16.
The game was Renfrow’s 42nd career start, tying him with Terry Smith (1990-93) for the most career starts by a wide receiver in school history.
Clemson opened the scoring with a 30-yard field goal by kicker Greg Huegel. Clemson has now scored on its opening drive in back-to-back games for the first time since a four-game stretch last season against Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Syracuse and Georgia Tech.
Huegel added a 23-yard field goal in the second quarter with which he passed Jad Dean (51 from 2003-06) for sixth-most career field goals in school history.
Tight end Milan Richard recorded his first touchdown reception of the season on a two-yard pass from Lawrence on fourth-and-goal in the first quarter. It was Richard’s second career touchdown reception and his first since Oct. 28, 2017 against Georgia Tech.
Including Lawrence and Richard scoring their first touchdowns of the season, Clemson has now posted 61 total touchdowns scored by 21 different players. The 21 different players scoring a touchdown this season tie a school record, matching the mark set by the 2013 squad.
Wide receiver Amari Rodgers recorded a 58-yard punt return for touchdown in the fourth quarter, his first career punt return for touchdown.
The punt return for touchdown by Rodgers was Clemson’s first since Ray-Ray McCloud returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown against NC State on Nov. 4, 2017.
Including the punt returns for touchdowns by Rodgers and McCloud during the last two seasons, Clemson has now recorded a punt return for touchdown in back-to-back seasons for the first time since a five-year stretch from 2003-07.
Clemson surrendered a 74-yard punt return for touchdown in the first quarter. The game was the first in Clemson history in which both teams recorded a punt return for touchdown.
Tackle Mitch Hyatt made his 52nd career start to tie kicker Chandler Catanzaro's school record for career starts.
Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins made his 40th career start to tie Jim Stuckey's school record for starts by a defensive tackle, set from 1976-79. (Note: Wilkins has also started at defensive end in his career but is currently listed at tackle).
With a sack in the third quarter, defensive end Clelin Ferrell moved past Adrian Dingle and Keith Adams (23.0 each) for sole possession of fifth-most career sacks in Clemson history.
Clemson held the ball for a season-high 35:23, surpassing a 32:51 time of possession vs. Syracuse. Clemson’s 35:23 time of possession was the school’s longest since holding the ball for 35:26 vs. South Carolina last season.
Official temperature at kickoff was 34 degrees, making it the third-coldest game in Clemson history and the coldest game at kickoff since a 32-degree game against Louisiana Tech in the 2001 Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho.
Captains for the contest were offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, guard John Simpson and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins.
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