Call it looking ahead. Call it saving your best for the ACC Championship Game. Just call it ugly. Sammy Watkins wasn’t the only Tiger not to show up Saturday in Raleigh for the 37-13 beatdown the Wolfpack layed on the nation’s 7th ranked team.
Watkins dressed but did not play because of the shoulder injury he suffered last week. He was missed. But the rest of the Tigers were just plain missing. If not for Mike Bellamy’s meaningless 2 yard touchdown run with 1:22 to play, the Tigers would have been kept out of the end zone for the first time since 2007.
Tajh Boyd continued his recent trend of throwing interceptions. And that was when he had time to throw. His makeshift offensive line seldom gave him time to set his feet and get comfortable except for the final minutes when it was garbage time. Boyd had two more interceptions giving him six in his last three games. He also was sacked 5 times. The Tigers also lost two more fumbles.
The Clemson defense was burned by State quarterback Mike Glennon to the tune of 253 yards and three touchdowns. State scored on every one of it’s possessions from the start of the second quarter thru the latter minutes of the third quarter when it built a 37-6 lead.
Adding injury to the insult, the Tigers lost both starting tackles, Brandon Thomas and Landon Walker, to leg injuries during the game.
The Tigers drop to 9-2 and finish ACC play with a 6-2 mark, equaling their record of 2009 when they also won the Atlantic Divisino. They will close out the regular season in Columbia next Saturday night against USC. With USC also 9-2, this will mark the first time the teams have played with each having at least nine wins.
Clemson post game notes:
*Clemson tight end Dwayne Allen established the Clemson single season record for receptions by a tight end tonight. He had three catches for 18 yards and now has 45 receptions for the season. He broke the mark of 43 set by teammate Michael Palmer in 2009. Allen now has 536 receiving yards, already a record for a Clemson tight end.
*DeAndre Hopkins had five receptions for 124 yards this evening. His first catch of the night, a 17-yarder, was his 100th as a Clemson Tiger. His 124 receiving yards tonight give him two 100-yard games this year and five for his career.
*Clemson was without freshman receiver Sammy Watkins tonight. Watkins dressed for the game and went through pregame warmups, but was held out of the game as he recovers from a shoulder injury. He is expected to be back for the South Carolina game.
*Clemson starting tackles Brandon Thomas and Landon Walker were both injured in the second half of the game, but not seriously. Thomas had a knee injury and Walker a hamstring. Clemson was already without starting left tackle Philip Price, who suffered a knee injury last week against Wake Forest. Receiver Martavis Bryant was injured in the first half (neck) and did not return in the second half.
*Tight end Brandon Ford had a career high five catches for a career high 77 yards this evening, including a 50-yard catch that set up Clemson’s only touchdown. He now has eight catches for 128 yards over the last two games. Ford and Allen now have 57 receptions between them this year.
*Ford became the seventh different Clemson player to have a play of 50 yards or more this year, which sets a Clemson record for most different players with a 50-yard play from scrimmage in a season.
*Tajh Boyd extended his streak of consecutive games with at least 200 yards passing tonight, as he threw for 238. He has now thrown for at least 200 in 11 straight games, a school record. But, he saw his consecutive games streak of throwing a touchdown pass end at 11. He had thrown at least one in all 10 games prior to tonight and in the bowl game last year.
*Clemson enters next week’s South Carolina game with nine wins, the most Clemson has had entering the season ending rivalry game since 1987 when Clemson was 9-1 entering that game. Both teams enter next Saturday night’s game with a 9-2 record. It is the first time both teams have had the same record entering the game since 1994 when both teams were 5-5. This will be the first time in history both teams enter the game with at least nine wins. The 18 combined wins are a record. The previous high for wins by both teams combined entering the game is 16, set many times, including most recently as 1988 when both teams were 8-2 entering the game.
*Clemson gained 339 yards of total offense tonight and went over the 5000-yard mark for the season. Clemson now has 5120 yards for the season. This is just the eighth Clemson team to gain at least 5000 yards in a season. The Tigers need 348 yards next week against South Carolina to set the school record for total offensive yards in a season.
*Clemson now has 11 turnovers in the last three games after having just eight in the first eight games. Clemson is 1-2 in those games.
*Clemson is 9-0 this year when both Andre Ellington and Sammy Watkins play for the Tigers and 0-2 when at least one of them is out of the lineup due to injury.
*Fullback Chad Diehl established the Clemson record for games played tonight. It was the 54th game of his career.