No it wasn’t pretty but Clemson will take it. The Tigers overcame some mistakes and exorcised some demons and very well may have booked a trip to Tampa after Saturday night’s 40-24 win over Florida State. Until the 4th quarter it looked like it was going to be another ACC heartbreaker. Florida State entered the final quarter with a 24-21 lead in large part to a series of blunders by Clemson. But the Tigers flexed their muscles down the stretch and outscored the Seminoles 19-0 in the 4th to make it a route.
AUDIO: Swinney post FSU presser (21:05)
It really should not have been close. Clemson missed three extra points and two field goals. Kyle Parker threw an interception that was returned for a score. There were also a couple of trips inside the ten yard line that lead to no points. You know, the same scenarios Clemson has faced the past few seasons. Only this time around they found a way to overcome the mistakes and take the win and control of the ACC Atlantic race.
C.J. Spiller was amazing. He rushed for a career high 177 yards, had 67 yards receiving and 71 one yards in returns. That is 312 yards of total offense for those of you (like me) that aren’t quick with the math. What is more amazing is Spiller did it all while playing less than 100 percent. He cringed after almost every play and was unavailable for post game interviews because he was getting treatment for his injuries. If Spiller isn’t considered a Heisman candidate after this game I don’t know what else he really has to do.
Spiller did have some help. Kyle Parker finished 18-30 for 242 yards and four touchdowns. He hit nine different receivers and with the exception of his interception he was flawless all night. He avoided the pressure and was able to step up and find open guys. His precision helped Clemson convert 7 of 14 first downs to keep crucial drives alive and keep the Tigers in the game despite some of their early miscues.
AUDIO: Kyle Parker post Georgia Tech (3:06)
AUDIO: Offensive lineman Thomas Austin (1:05)
You also have to tip your hat to the Clemson defense. Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder only had four interceptions all season entering this game. The Tigers picked him off four times. They forced five turnovers on the night and kept one of the ACC’s best quarterbacks and offenses in check for most of the night.
AUDIO: DeAndre McDaniel post FSU
The win improves the Tigers to 6-3 and 4-2 in the ACC. They are in first place in the Atlantic division (they own the tiebreaker over Boston College) with just two league games left to play. They will be at NC State next weekend and play host to Virginia the following week. No, they haven’t clinched the division but a lot of bad things will have to happen for them not to end up in Tampa next month playing for a shot at the ACC title and a bid to the Orange Bowl.