CLEMSON, SC – The No.7 Miami Hurricanes stormed into Death
Valley as one of the major storylines in all of college football, as folks
around the country wondered whether another ACC team would finally be able to
challenge No.1 Clemson. Well, the Tigers served notice to the rest of the ACC
and the nation that the answer is an emphatic no, crushing the upset-minded
Canes 42-17, and the game wasn’t even that close. It could have easily been 59-10,
as a few self-inflicted mistakes by the Tigers and running out the clock on the
one-yard line kept the score from being even more lopsided.
The Tigers dominated in yardage, ball control and first
downs from the outset, taking an early 14-0 lead. They led 21-3 and were
driving as time was winding down to halftime, but on fourth and 6 at the Miami 44,
rather than let time run out and head to the locker room with a 21-3 lead, Dabo
elected to send BT Potter out for a 61-yard field goal attempt, and it blew up
in their faces. Miami blocked the attempt for a kick-six, taking it to the end
zone to make the score 21-10 at halftime. Dabo was angry at himself and took ownership
of the risky decision, saying, “Terrible decision by me. Nobody’s fault but
mine.” Incidentally, Spencer Benton made a 61-yard field goal for Dabo in 2012,
setting a Clemson and ACC record, and Dabo has seen Potter make kicks from that
distance in practice, so he had good reason to make that attempt. However,
given that the Tigers had all the momentum, it was raining, and Potter already
had a kick blocked earlier, Dabo should have erred on the side of caution
rather than tempt fate.
So Miami was given a gift and gained some momentum going
into halftime, knowing they would get the ball first in the second half.
Fortunately for the Tigers, their defense brought their A game. They forced a
three-and-out to start the second half. Then, after a fumble by Trevor Lawrence
gave the Canes the ball near the red zone, Sheridan Jones came up with his
first career interception in the end zone. It was very similar, in both
appearance and context, to the one Andrew Booth made against UVA last week.
After the Tigers were forced to punt, the defense came up with another
three-and-out, and that set the table for a 72-yard touchdown run by Etienne to
make the score 28-10 and give the Tigers momentum for good. Again, the final
score could have been much more lopsided than it was. The Tigers outgained the
Canes 550 to 210 and had 34 first downs against 9 for the Canes. Total plays
were 88 to 55 in favor of the Tigers, who held possession for 17 more minutes
than the Canes. The Tigers also were incredibly balanced on offense, running 44
pass plays for 292 yards and 44 rush plays for 258 yards.
For the past few days, I asked the guys from ESPN College
GameDay what the odds were that we could see both Trevor and Travis make it to
New York as Heisman Finalists. Seldom do we see two players from the same team—especially
the same offense—make it to New York because they have to compete with each
other for stats. I believe the last time two players from the same offense were
Heisman Finalists was 2004 with Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. However, Trev &
Trav both played like Heisman front-runners on the big stage Saturday night.
Trevor has been sublime all season, and he continued his
near perfect play, going 29-41 for 292 yards and 3 touchdowns. He should have
had another 60-yard touchdown pass, but Frank Ladson dropped a ball Trevor
dropped right in his hands on third and long. Trevor also rushed for 34 yards
and a touchdown, his fourth rush TD of the season. The Tigers found themselves
in third and long all night—the average distance on third down was 9 yards—but they
still managed to convert on 8 out of 17. Despite a steady rain throughout the
second half, Trevor was extremely accurate, as he has been all season. He has
now thrown 355 passes without an interception and needs just 25 more to break
Russell Wilson’s ACC record. It looked as if that streak might go by the
wayside on the opening possession, but an interception by Roche was negated because
he was lined up barely in the neutral zone for an offsides call. Trevor took a
couple of hard shots and late hits from Miami’s defense, and the Canes were in
his ear all night, so after he ran for a touchdown in the third quarter to put
the Tigers up 35-10, Trevor spiked the football and returned some of the talk
to the Miami defenders. It’s rare that you see Trevor get that riled up, and
Dabo didn’t appreciate the spike, but I know it fired up Trevor’s teammates to
see their leader return the Canes’ fire in that way. Trevor’s counterpart,
Miami QB D’Eriq King, came into the game with Heisman hopes of his own, but he
did not fair well. More on that in a bit!
Travis Etienne dazzled once again, racking up 222
all-purpose yards with 2 touchdowns. He rushed for 149, averaging 8.8 yards per
carry, and had 8 catches for 73 yards. Since late last season, Travis has gradually
become more of a regular weapon in the passing game, and it will likely be the
case in just about every game this season. He set a Clemson running back record
with 114 reception yards last week and is the only Clemson back other than CJ
Spiller to post over 100 reception yards in a game. Etienne’s electric 72-yard run
in the third quarter was just what the Tigers needed to put the Canes away,
making it 28-10 after 3 straight stops by the defense. He was also a big reason
the Tigers were able to convert on third and long. On his first TD of the
night, Travis broke Tim Tebow’s all-time record for most career games (39 and
counting) with a touchdown.
Miami tight end Brevin Jordan came into the game with all the
accolades and press, but I wrote in my preview that I expected the Tigers’ tight
ends to have a big impact on the game. Sure enough, they scored 3 touchdowns for
the first time in Clemson history after going two games without a TD. Braden
Galloway scored the first TD of the game on the Tigers’ opening possession—it was
the same TE throw-back play they ran with Jordan Leggett at Miami in 2015, in
which the offensive freezes and then becomes a convoy for the tight end—and became
the first Tiger TE to score 2 touchdowns in a game since Jordan Leggett in 2016.
Galloway hadn’t previously scored a touchdown since his career first in 2018.
Davis Allen added his first career touchdown in the fourth quarter for the
Tigers’ final score. 3 of the Tigers’ 5 tight ends have now scored TD’s in the
first 4 games. JC Chalk caught his first career touchdown in the opener for the
Tigers’ first score of the season.
As for the receivers, Amari Rodgers was Mr. Reliable again
for the Tigers, catching 7 passes for 62 yards, and he was big on third down. Miami
native Frank Ladson had the big touchdown drop but redeemed himself soon after
with a 31-yard catch on third down and finished with 3 catches for 43 yards. Joseph
Ngata dressed again, but for the third straight game did not record a catch. It’s
scary to think of how dangerous this offense will be when he is back in the
mix! Brannon Spector and Cornell Powell combined for 5 short receptions.
As good as Trevor and Travis were, the story of the game had
to be the Tigers’ defense. I wrote in my preview that I thought they would come
out with an edge and a chip on their shoulder because they were sick of
listening to fans gripe about the 23 points they gave up to UVA last week, and
the edge was certainly there from the moment they ran down The Hill! On the
very first Miami play from scrimmage, Baylon Spector sacked the elusive D’Eriq
King. Spector would sack King again on third and 10 to force the first of 7
Miami punts. The Canes had allowed just one sack per game coming into the
contest, and the Tigers would finish with five. In addition to Spector, Justin Mascoll,
Jake Venbles, Nyles Pinckney and Myles Murphy would also contribute to the
sacks. Mascoll recorded his first career sack last week against UVA and
repeated the feat on Saturday night. The Tigers had 11 tackles-for-loss and forced
7 three-and-outs. They had 3 interceptions—all in the second half—and a
turnover on downs. After no interceptions in the first 2 games, the Tigers’ young
secondary has 5 in the last 2 games. In addition to the first career pick by Sheridan Jones, Kane Patterson made the first of his career and DK added another. The Tigers also won the turnover margin for the
second straight game. The defense allowed just 10 points—7 came from the
blocked field goal—and the Canes’ only offensive touchdown came with 8:30 left
on a fourth and goal from the 7 yard line. The Tigers nearly prevented that
score as well. It was a masterful 60-minute performance by Brent Venables and his
defense against a team that was clicking on offense, averaging 42.3 points per
game. Miami averaged 499 total yards per game, and the Tigers held them to 210.
Cam Harris came into the game averaging over 100 yards per game and 8 yards per
carry. The Tigers held him to 3 yards on 8 carries! Getting Tyler Davis back on the defensive line after missing the last two games was big, and Xavier Thomas even got into the game late. He should get to play quite a bit at Georgia Tech next week as he tries to work his way back to 100%.
The only negative for the Tigers, of course, was the kicking game. Potter was 4-4 on field goals coming into the game, including a 52-yarder, but had all 3 of his attempts blocked by the Canes. Fortunately, it didn't hurt the Tigers, and they will make the necessary adjustments in practice this week.
The Tigers are now 6-6 all-time against the Canes, winning
the last 3 meetings 138-20. Four of those wins were against top-10 Miami teams.
The Tigers have won 25 straight ACC games, 25 straight home games (longest active
streak in nation), 36 straight non-playoff games (tied with 1985-88 Miami for fourth-longest
streak ever) and 47 straight Saturday games (longest streak ever). They will
travel to Atlanta next week for a noon kickoff with Tech, which upset
Louisville on Saturday. As always, we’ll have our Sunday evening conference
call with Dabo, so click the link below for audio!
Clemson hosted its first matchup of AP Top 10 teams at Memorial Stadium since a classic 42-36 win against Louisville in 2016. Clemson improved to 13-9 all-time in games between AP Top 10 teams.
Clemson’s 25-point win was its sixth win of 25 or more points against an AP Top 10 opponent all-time.
Clemson hosted a team ranked in the AP Top 15 at Death Valley for the 10th time under Dabo Swinney. Clemson is now 7-3 in those contests, including wins in each of its last five such games since 2015.
Clemson played its 18th game all-time while ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll to move past Pitt and Tennessee for sole possession of the 15th-most since the poll's inception in 1936. It was Dabo Swinney's 17th game coached at No. 1, tying him with College Football Hall of Famer Ara Parseghian for 19th all-time.
Clemson improved to 10-1 in rain games under Dabo Swinney. In those 11 contests, Clemson is plus-15 in the turnover margin (28-13).
Clemson has now defeated Miami by a combined score of 138-20 in the teams’ last three meetings.
Clemson held Miami to 210 yards of offense. Miami entered the game averaging an ACC-best 499.0 yards per game.
Clemson allowed only nine first downs. It marks the sixth time in the Dabo Swinney era that Clemson has held an ACC opponent to fewer than 10 first downs.
Miami entered the game having allowed only three sacks this season. Clemson produced three sacks in Miami’s first seven offensive plays.
Clemson finished the game with five sacks and has now posted multiple sacks in 26 of its last 27 games, including each of its last 10.
Clemson has now recorded at least three sacks in six straight games, dating to last season, for the first time since a seven-game streak across games 8-14 of the 2018 season.
Clemson entered the game having not allowed a touchdown to Miami in 150:10 of game action. Miami's most recent touchdown against Clemson prior to Saturday came with 10 seconds remaining in the second quarter on Oct. 2, 2010. Clemson recorded a streak of 201:39 of game action without allowing an offensive touchdown to Miami before D’Eriq King scored on a seven-yard touchdown run with 8:31 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Clemson recorded 550 yards of total offense, its second-highest total this season (561 at Wake Forest).
Clemson produced 292 passing yards and 258 rushing yards. It was Clemson’s 18th time reaching 200 yards in both categories since 2018, the most in the country.
Clemson scored 42 points and has now scored at least 37 points in each of its first four games for the first time since 2011.
Clemson has now won each of its first four games of a season by at least 18 points for the fifth time in school history, joining the 1900, 1929, 1940 and 2000 seasons.
Clemson won the turnover margin, 3-1. Clemson has now won the turnover margin in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Clemson improved to 41-1 under Dabo Swinney when it records three or more takeaways. Clemson is now also 42-1 under Swinney when finishing plus-two or better in the turnover margin.
Clemson played a 12th consecutive game without turning the ball over multiple times. Clemson's 12-game streak with one giveaway or fewer is the program's longest in the last 20 years.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 29-of-41 passes, both season highs, for 292 yards with three touchdown passes. He also rushed eight times for 34 yards with a rushing touchdown.
Lawrence has now thrown 355 consecutive passes without an interception, surpassing NC State's Ryan Finley (339 from 2016-17) for the second-longest streak in ACC history.
Lawrence finished with a pass efficiency rating of 154.7 and has exceeded a 150 passer rating in all four games this season.
With three touchdown passes in the game, Lawrence tied Russell Wilson (76) for fifth-most career passing touchdowns in ACC history.
Lawrence threw three touchdown passes in a third straight game for the first time since a school-record eight-game stretch last season.
Lawrence recorded his 17th career game with three or more passing touchdowns, passing Deshaun Watson for sole possession of the second-most such games in school history.
With 326 combined passing and rushing yards in the game, Lawrence (8,873) passed Woodrow Dantzler (8,798) for fourth on Clemson's all-time leaderboard for career total offense.
Lawrence completed his first nine passes, and including his completions on his final two pass attempts last week, completed 11 consecutive passes across two games. It was the second straight game against Miami that Clemson’s quarterback has gotten off to an efficient start, as in Clemson’s most recent game against Miami prior to Saturday in the 2017 ACC Championship Game, Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant opened that game with 15 consecutive completions against the Hurricanes.
Lawrence added a three-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter. It was his fourth rushing touchdown of the season and the 14th of his career. Lawrence’s 14 career rushing touchdowns are the sixth-most by a Clemson quarterback in the modern era.
Running back Travis Etienne rushed 17 times for a season-high 149 yards with two rushing touchdowns and caught a career-high eight receptions for 73 yards. His eight receptions were one shy of the Clemson record by a running back (nine by Jamie Harper vs. Florida State in 2010).
With a two-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter, Etienne now has at least one rushing or receiving touchdown in 39 of his 47 career games, breaking the FBS record for most career games scoring a touchdown held previously by Florida's Tim Tebow (38 games from 2006-09) and Louisiana Tech's Kenneth Dixon (38 from 2012-15).
Etienne scored his second touchdown of the game on a 72-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. The rushing touchdown was the 60th of his career, making him only the 12th player in official FBS records to score 60 career rushing touchdowns, a mark reached only by Navy's Keenan Reynolds (88), Wisconsin's Montee Ball (77), Miami (Ohio)'s Travis Prentice (73), Texas' Ricky Williams (72), Louisiana Tech's Kenneth Dixon (72), Florida Atlantic's Devin Singletary (66), Indiana's Anthony Thompson (64), Texas' Cedric Benson (64), Wisconsin's Ron Dayne (63), San Diego State's Donnel Pumphrey (62) and Oregon's Royce Freeman (60).
The 72-yard touchdown run was Etienne’s 10th career rushing touchdown of 50 yards or more, adding to his Clemson record. It was his 11th overall touchdown of 50 yards or more (including receiving touchdowns) in his Clemson career, moving past Sammy Watkins for sole possession of the second-most in Clemson annals.
Etienne recorded his 19th career 100-yard rushing game to extend his school record and tie Virginia's Tiki Barber for ninth-most in ACC history.
During the game, Etienne (4,430) moved past Boston College's AJ Dillon (4,328 from 2017-19) for the fourth-most career rushing yards in ACC history.
Later in the game, Etienne passed North Carolina’s Amos Lawrence (4,391 from 1977-80) for third on the ACC’s all-time leaderboard for career rushing yards.
During the game, Etienne (402) became the seventh player (and first non-kicker) in ACC history to score 400 career points.
During the game, Etienne (402) passed Nick Novak (393 from 2001-04) for seventh on the ACC's career scoring leaderboard.
Etienne recorded 222 all-purpose yards. It was the fifth 200-yard all-purpose game of his career and his first since Nov. 2, 2019.
Etienne (5,803) moved past Chris Douglas of Duke (5,748 from 2000-03) for third on the ACC's all-time career all-purpose yardage leaderboard.
Tight end Braden Galloway caught four passes for 74 yards with two touchdowns. It represented Galloway’s first multi-touchdown game of his career.
The multi-touchdown game by Galloway was the first by a Clemson tight end since Jordan Leggett scored twice against Virginia Tech in the 2016 ACC Championship Game.
Clemson opened the scoring on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Lawrence to tight end Galloway.
Galloway’s first touchdown came on a screen pass in which the offensive line delayed its release from the line of scrimmage, similar to a touchdown pass tight end Jordan Leggett scored in the teams’ last regular season meeting, a 58-0 Clemson win at Miami in 2015.
The first touchdown reception was Galloway’s first of the season and the second of his career. It was his first since his collegiate debut on Sept. 1, 2018 against Furman.
Wide receiver Amari Rodgers recorded a career-high seven receptions, gaining 62 yards. His previous career high in receptions was six, set four times including last week against Virginia.
Tight end Davis Allen scored his first career touchdown on a 22-yard pass from Lawrence in the third quarter.
Between Galloway (two) and Allen (one), Clemson tight ends recorded three touchdown receptions in a single game for the first time under Dabo Swinney.
Clemson’s second possession was a 16-play, 89-yard march that culminated with a two-yard touchdown run by Etienne. The 16-play drive represented the most plays run by Clemson in a single drive since an 18-play drive at the end of the Sugar Bowl against Alabama to conclude the 2017 season.
Clemson outgained Miami in the first quarter, 157-10, while running 25 plays to Miami’s six and holding a 12:31-2:29 edge in time of possession.
Linebacker Baylon Spector, who earned ACC Linebacker of the Week last week, recorded 1.5 sacks on Miami’s opening drive. It gave him his second career multi-sack game, joining his two-sack performance against Ohio State in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl.
Defensive end Justin Mascoll recorded his second sack of his career — also his second sack in as many weeks — in the second quarter.
Cornerback Sheridan Jones recorded the first interception of his career in the third quarter, picking off Miami quarterback D’Eriq King in the end zone. The interception was the first thrown by King this season.
Cornerback Derion Kendrick recorded his first interception of the season in the third quarter. It was the third of his career and his first since Nov. 30, 2019 against South Carolina.
Linebacker Jake Venables added his first sack of the season in the third quarter.
Punter Will Spiers averaged 52.7 yards on three punts, his first game with at least three punts and an average of 50 yards or more since 2017 against Louisville (51.8 on four punts).
Clemson and Miami met for the first time in regular season play since 2015, when Clemson handed Miami its worst loss in program history, a 58-0 road victory for the Tigers. Including postseason play, it was the first game between the two teams since Clemson’s 38-3 victory in the 2017 ACC Championship Game in Charlotte.
Clemson led at the half, 21-0, and posted a 21-3 edge in first downs in the first half. Clemson has now won 82 of its last 84 games when leading at halftime.
Captains for the contest were quarterback Trevor Lawrence, defensive tackle Nyles Pinckney, wide receiver Amari Rodgers and safety Nolan Turner.
WITH THE WIN…
Clemson improved to 22-3 against AP Top 25 teams since 2015. At 22-3 in those games presently, Clemson's 88.0 percent winning percentage against AP-ranked opponents in that time frame is the best in the country.
Clemson evened its all-time series against Miami at 6-6.
Clemson won a third straight game against Miami for the first time in school history.
Clemson earned its first home victory against Miami in school history. Miami collected victories in the teams’ only two meetings in Death Valley to date, a three-overtime win in 2005 and a 30-21 win in 2010.
Though 2020 will technically be a divisionless season, Clemson improved to 30-8 against opponents historically from the ACC Coastal Division, including postseason play, under Head Coach Dabo Swinney. Clemson has now won 16 of its last 17 games against the Coastal Division since 2015.
Clemson pushed its streak of consecutive victories in games that would typically count as ACC interdivisional matchups to 12 games, dating back to the 2016 ACC Championship Game.
Clemson won its 25th consecutive game against an ACC opponent, including postseason play. The 25-game winning streak against conference opponents moves Clemson past the 1998-2001 Florida State Seminoles for sole possession of the third-longest streak in conference history.
Clemson won its 25th consecutive home game to extend its school record for the longest home winning streak in school history. Of the 119 players on Clemson's 2020 roster, 110 have never experienced a home loss in their Clemson careers. Nine fifth-year seniors on Clemson's 2020 roster were on the 2016 team that recovered from a home loss to Pitt by winning the national championship that season.
Clemson (25 straight wins) tied the school record for longest home unbeaten streak. Clemson was unbeaten in 25 straight games at Memorial Stadium from 1980-84, posting 23 wins and two ties under Danny Ford in that span.
Clemson has now won 33 consecutive regular season games, the longest such streak in ACC annals and the second-longest in the FBS since 2005. Clemson's last regular season loss came in October 2017 at Syracuse.
Clemson improved to 23-1 in October games in the College Football Playoff era (since 2014).
Clemson pushed its winning streak in Saturday games to 47 to extend the longest Saturday winning streak in FBS history.
Head Coach Dabo Swinney secured his 134th career win as a head coach to tie Virginia's George Welsh for the second-most career wins by an ACC head coach. At the time of his retirement following the 2000 season, Welsh was the winningest head coach in ACC history prior to being passed by Bobby Bowden.
Swinney moved his career winning percentage to .812 to move past Lafayette and Pitt's Jock Sutherland in the NCAA FBS record book for 11th all-time for coaches with at least 10 years of head coaching experience.
Clemson improved to 16-2 all-time when ranked No. 1 by the Associated Press. Clemson has never lost a regular season game as the nation's top-ranked team.
Clemson is now 54-1 when scoring first since 2015.
Clemson is now 104-2 since 2011 when leading after three quarters.
Clemson now has a 102-2 record when totaling more first downs than its opponent since 2011.
Clemson improved to 66-1 when rushing for 200+ yards under Dabo Swinney.
Clemson is now 52-0 when both passing and rushing for 200+ yards under Dabo Swinney.
Clemson is now 51-2 when having a 100-yard rusher since 2011.
Clemson now has a 60-3 record when winning the turnover margin since 2011.
Clemson has now won 84 straight games when holding teams under 23 points (dates to 2010).