Clemson clinched a third straight ACC Atlantic Division Championship Saturday night with a 31-14 win over Florida State in Death Valley, but not before an ample amount of warm Maalox was consumed by Tiger fans in the second half. Their team had just enough in the tank to hold off a Seminole squad that had been a shell of itself for most of the season.
The Tigers dominated the first half and cold have put the Seminoles away by halftime, but they fumbled twice after reaching the Florida State one. They lost the first one, recovered the second but had to settle for a field goal and only a 17-0 halftime lead.
The Seminoles turned the game around in the second half and fought back to within 17-14 with 8:53 to play. Then, the pivotal point of the game. Kelly Bryant lost a fumble at his own 40 but on the next play Van Smith intercepted James Blackman and returned it 38 yards to the Seminoles 44. Six plays later Travis Etienne scored his second touchdown of the game from a yard had and the Tigers had some breathing room. They added a final touchdown in garbage time for the final margin.
The plan going in was to run the ball and stop the run and on both counts the Tigers get a gold star. Clemson rushed for 227 yards and, after sacks, allowed Florida State just 21. Bryant was effective in his impersonation of the single-wing quarterback rushing 19 times for 60 yards and a score while completing 20 of 30 passes for 151 yards.
The Tigers defense mirrored a MASH unit but it was still better than good. Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence did not play joining cornerbacks Mark Fields and Marcus Edmond on the sideline to start the game. And at various times linebacker Tre Lamar, safety Tanner Muse and corner Ryan Carter were knocked out of action.
But the next guys up more than held their own. JD Davis tied for the team lead with 7 tackles including 1 for loss. Albert Huggins, who started for Lawrence, had 4 tackles incuding two for loss. Chad Smith, Chris Register and Nyles Pinckney were others who stepped in for the fallen and did a nice job.
The Tigers finish their ACC campaign at 7-1. They are 9-1 overall. Next week is Senior Day and Military Appreciation Day at Death Valley against The Citadel, then the trip to Columbia for the state championship. After that it’s Miami in Charlotte for the ACC Championship and from there the Tigers are hoping to be back in the playoffs for a third straight season.
Dabo Swinney post game comments
Brent Venables on Van Smith’s big 4th quarter interception
Kelly Bryant reacts to clinching the division title
Travis Etienne on his major contributions to the win
Austin Bryant talks about how the reserves stepped up
Here’ by game review from Periscope
Clemson post game https://t.co/jh5gy7jq4a
— SportsTalk (@sportstalksc) November 12, 2017