Clemson has been among college football’s elite for the last few seasons, dominating the ACC, winning two national titles and playing in five consecutive College Football Playoffs. The top-ranked Clemson Tigers are what the Miami Hurricanes once were: A football brand. Clemson has become must-see TV. This version of Miami, is not yet ready for prime time. Clemson (4-0, 3-0 ACC) endured three blocked field goals, one returned for a touchdown to close the first half, and still dominated Miami, 42-17.
The stat book looks worse for the Canes than the scoreboard. The Tigers racked up 550 yards, 38 minutes of possession and 34 first downs. Trevor Lawrence (29 of 41 for 292 yards and three touchdowns) was in control from the outset, peppering the Miami defense with an assortment of quick hitters, screens and swing passes. Amari Rodgers, Travis Etienne and Braden Galloway were Lawrence’s favorite targets in the opening stanza as he hit 12 of his first 14 passes. Etienne was employed early as a receiver (8 catches for 73 yards), and as a rusher late (17 carries for 149 yards and two touchdowns) to put the game away. Etienne now has 19 career 100-yard games to his credit and is making a strong case as the Heisman Trophy front runner.
Clemson’s defense was also a major factor, destroying Miami’s zone read game, tallying five sacks and consistently forcing Miami behind the chains. The Hurricanes’ leading rusher, Cam’ron Harris, was limited to 3 yards on eight carries. The pass rush also hassled quarterback D’Eriq King, who finished 12 of 28 for 121 yards and two interceptions. Miami didn’t handle the adversity well, committing 15 penalties for 135 yards.
Clemson will put its no. 1 ranking on the line next week at Georgia Tech (2-2, 2-1 ACC). The Tigers and the Yellow Jackets are scheduled to kick at noon, Saturday.
Postgame wrapup from Death Valley