Clemson coach Dabo Swinney waited through two fruitless offensive possessions to make the move his fans have been pining about for weeks. With his team trailing 7-0 and starting quarterback DJ Uiagalelei struggling again thru the air, Swinney brought in freshman Cade Klubnik for the third series. Swinney said the plan all week was to insert Klubnik in the third series no matter what.
All Klubnik did was hit his first ten passes and lead four straight scoring possessions as the Tigers ran away from the Tar Heels 39-10. For his efforts, Klubnik was named the game MVP.
After the emotionally debilitating loss to USC last weekend which effectively eliminated Clemson from the College Football Playoff, Tiger fans had no idea what to expect from their team going into the title game, or how Swinney would handle his quarterback dilemma. What they saw was Swinney give his veteran starter one more chance and then move decisively when he saw Uiagalelei didn’t have it. The question Clemson fans no doubt are asking one another is what took him so long.
The play of the Clemson defense is not to be overlooked. The Tigers allowed a touchdown drive on the Tar Heels’ first possession and kept them out of the end zone the rest of the way. The Tar Heels had some chances but they came up empty. Their second half possessions ended with two punts, two interceptions and a turnover on downs.
Nate Wiggins was the defensive star for the Tigers. He blocked a field goal, returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown and knocked down two other passes.
The Tigers won their 7th ACC Championship in the last eight seasons and their 21st overall. They also earned a trip to the Orange Bowl as the ACC representative and will possibly face Tennessee there. Bowl assignments will be announced Sunday afternoon.