Breathtaking. Awe-inspiring. Exhilarating. Heart-breaking. These are just a few of the adjectives used to describe the Clemson-Auburn game this evening at Jordan-Hare Stadium won by Auburn in overtime 27-24.
ESPN Gameday was in Auburn for this matchup between the ACC and SEC, and 87,491 of their closest friends were in attendance to witness the occasion. Auburn wore their traditional blue tops with white pants, while Clemson wore all-white with orange helmets.
Clemson won the toss and elected to receive. This turned out to be great strategy for the Tigers immediately muscled their way down the field, silencing the Auburn faithful with a 6 minute drive culminating with a TD connection from Kyle Parker to Jamie Harper. The Clemson defense took the field and quickly forced Auburn into a 3 and out, now winning the battle up front on both sides of the ball. CU finished the quarter by having possession of the ball for 11:13 out of 15:00.
The 2nd quarter was much of the same, with Clemson pushing Auburn around, seemingly being the more physical team. Auburn’s offense sputtered while Clemson mounted another long drive, this one being 11 plays for 4:44, resulting in a Catanzaro 42 yard FG. Auburn had a few positive offensive possessions, only to shoot themselves in the foot with a holding penalty one drive and an interception the next. DeAndre McDaniel recorded the INT, his first of the season. Clemson’s ensuing drive started with 1:54 left before the half, and they quickly marched down the field on a 5 play, 61 yard drive resulting in a TD. Auburn now trailed 17-0 and desperately needed something, anything before the half. Cam Newton came to life marching his Tigers down the field for a 35 yd FG, making the halftime score 17-3.
Key halftime stats:
- Total yards: CU 267 AU 116
- First downs: CU 17 AU 6
- Time of Possession: CU 19:23 AU 10:37
Auburn opened the second half with the ball, and drove to the Clemson 28 before Cam Newton threw his second INT, this one to Xavier Brewer. From this point of the game onward, Auburn became a different football team. They caught a break when Brewer was called out at the 1 yard line, when after review it appeared the play should have resulted in a touch-back, giving Clemson the ball at the 20. Either way, their defense forced a punt, and Newton proceeded to lead Auburn on a 6 play, 61 yard drive resulting in a TD, making the score 17-10. Clemson immediately went 3 and out, with QB Kyle Parker getting shaken up on a scramble. Auburn marched right back down the field on a 72 yard drive, tying the game at 17. The Clemson offense sputtered again, with Kyle Parker remaining in the game, but visibly shaken up from the previous drive. Auburn responded with a quick striking, two play 83 yard TD drive. Cam Newton found a wide open Terrell Zachery for 78 yards, giving Auburn a 24-17 lead to end the 3rd quarter.
I was on the field to start the 4th quarter and stood behind Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper as they fired each other up, inspiring their team to continue fighting. Clemson responded with a 9 play, 77 yard drive to open the 4th quarter, led by the “New Storm.” Ellington scored on a 2 yard run, tying the game at 24. The quarter slowed down until Clemson started a drive with 4:18 to play. They clawed their way to midfield, and Kyle Parker narrowly missed Dwayne Allen on 3rd down, a missed opportunity that looked as though could have been a game-winning TD. Clemson was forced to punt and Auburn ran out the clock as the Auburn faithful booed the strategy to settle for OT.
Clemson won the toss and elected to defend first in OT. The defense did it’s job and forced Auburn to kick a FG, giving them a 27-24 lead. Reminding you of the 2007 Chick-Fil-A bowl yet? Clemson now had their opportunity, and drove to the Auburn 5 yard line. Parker’s ensuing pass was just off the fingertips of Jaron Brown, another missed opportunity. Freshman placekicker Chandler Catanzaro now had the kick of his life from 26 yards out to force a 2nd OT. Right down the middle, Clemson fans rejoice. But there’s a flag, and the referee initially calls offside on Auburn, resulting in a Clemson first down on the 1. Then the referees huddle for what seemed like an eternity, and come to the decision that the penalty was actually an illegal snap by Clemson long-snapper Matt Skinner, a sophomore. Clemson must now re-kick from 32 yards, directly into the deafening noise of the Auburn student section. Catanzaro missed it wide left, and in an instant the crowd went from loud to silent to ear-drum shattering.
Auburn won the game 27-24 in OT, ending what was a breathtaking, awe-inspiring, exhilarating, and heart-breaking “Clash of the Tigers.”
Post game audio from the Clemson lockerroom
Key final stats:
- Total yards: CU 414 AU 424
- First downs: CU 27 AU 19
- Possession : CU 34:20 AU 25:40
- Turnovers: CU 0 AU 2
Clemson has a bye this week before facing Miami in Death Valley on October 2. Auburn hosts South Carolina this Saturday, on ESPN and ESPN3D.