The Clemson Tigers know they have to refocus their minds following an emotional road victory over arch-rival South Carolina going into their ACC Championship Game in Miami.
While the accolades continue to pour in, and coaches’ names appear in rumor mills for potential Head Coach openings, the Tigers appear so far to be on message regarding their biggest test of the season in Charlotte.
The Tigers will take on once defeated Miami, whose unblemished record was soiled by the same school to beat Clemson last year in the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Clemson QB Kelly Bryant knows how highly intense this game can be, having observed it on the sideline the last two years:
The Tigers seem to be peaking at the right time, and the list of contributors seems to be extensive, mixed with familiar and new faces.
Hunter Renfrow, who became a folk hero among Tiger fans for his game-winning catch in the Championship Game last year, is starting to light up the stat sheet.
Fifteen of his 50 catches this season have come in the last four weeks, and after being held out of the end zone through his first ten games, Renfrow has scored three touchdowns in the last two weeks.
Renfrow talks about his own success and also the emergence of freshman Tee Higgins (9 catches, 264 yards, 2 TD the last two weeks):
Clemson’s defense continues to be the linchpin of its success, holding opponents to 13.6 points per game, fourth-best in the country and second best in the ACC behind Virginia Tech.
Despite having a lot of success, they will stack themselves up against a Miami defense that’s the top team in the country in turnover margin, the impetus for the famed “turnover chain”
The Miami offense Clemson will see ranks 40th in scoring offense at 32 points per contest, and tied for 44th in the country at 423 yards per game.
While the Hurricanes offense is far from explosive on paper, Miami had just as impressive a day as Clemson did against common opponent Virginia Tech, putting up 28 points on the Hokies to Clemson’s 31.
First-Team All-ACC honoree Dexter Lawrence has respect for Miami, in what will be his first game against the Hurricanes:
Second-Team All-ACC defensive end Austin Bryant remembers his freshman-year trip to Miami, where the Tigers blew out the Hurricanes 58-0.
He believes Miami has come a long way since then, but also believes there’s a level his own defense can achieve that they haven’t reached yet:
Clemson and Miami meet in Charlotte for the ACC Championship Saturday at 8 PM on ABC.