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Paws Up, Paws Down - Clemson Pounds Seminoles Into Submission 59-10

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The Tigers traveled down to Tallahassee this weekend as heavy favorites, a role usually reserved for the hometown Seminoles, a role Florida State and its fans used to relish, a role they once thrived on, and after Saturday, a role that seems like a distant memory.

Tee Higgins quiets Noles fans after scoring a TD in the route
SI.com

FSU fans were subjected to their worst home defeat in program history. Watching the program that has overtaken you as the alpha dog in the ACC stroll into Doak and embarrass you 59-10 must be a tough pill to swallow.

I'm not sure I could've envisioned a better initiation into this rivalry for Willie Taggert. After a first quarter in which his team played well defensively, things started to unravel very quickly after a roughing the kicker call early in the second. That set off a chain reaction of one self implosion after another - mistakes the Tigers feasted on. It was a tutorial of what can happen when you have an undisciplined football team faced with adversity, and it was glorious.

Clemson has certainly found itself on the wrong end of a few of these kinds of games over the years. Personally, I'll never forget 57-0 in 1993 or 54-7 in 2000. Then there was 51-14 in Death Valley when the Tigers were ranked third in the country. I'm not saying one blowout win erases all that, but it sure did make this one just a little bit sweeter.

Defense

This defense is playing downright salty right now. Going back to the start of the third quarter vs Syracuse, the DL has been downright dominant. It doesn't always show up in the sack totals but those guys have been downright dominant, particularly on the interior. Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence have been manhandling opponents, consistently pushing guys into the opposing backfield. Nyles Pinkney and Jordan Williams have been making the most of their opportunities, and Albert Huggins picked up a sack this weekend! For the second straight week, the secondary has shown that maybe they aren't a weak link..... Paws Up

Offensive Line

I can't say enough about this group. Lose your starting center. Then your starting RG goes out. Facing the most talented front they'll see this season, this group played well despite missing two starters. After having some struggles with his pass protection this season, Cade Stewart probably had his best performance this season. Gage Cervenka played well in his first start at center. Clemson had 120 yards rushing and averaged 3.6 YPC. Not a bad day against a Top 15 rush defense. Losing two OL would be an issue for many teams. Not this one..... Paws Up

Xavier Thomas

This kid would be starting as a true freshman at a lot of other schools. I'm not sure I've ever seen a guy with a quicker first step. Some how, some way, he seems to make his mark on every game. It's gonna be fun watching him do work the next couple of years..... Paws Up

Trevor Lawrence

It's so nice to see the downfield passing game back to being a staple of this offense. Going into the NC State game, this offense hadn't produced a 300 yard passing in quite some time. Against FSU, Lawrence had his second straight 300 yard passing game, and for this team to achieve all of its goals, opposing defenses have to respect the QBs ability to throw downfield. By the time Lawrence is done, I suspect some will downright fear that ability..... Paws Up

Christian Wilkins

The Fridge Package! All that's left is to take a snap at QB. We're gonna really miss 42 next year..... Paws Up

Punting

It's the only area you can really criticize. Spiers averaged under 40 yards a punt and had a terrible shank. We've seen firsthand how much impact poor special teams play can have on big games..... Paws Down

And in other games.....

Texas

After starting to get a little bit of hype as a possible playoff contender, Texas yet again proves they're still just pretenders..... Paws Down

NC State

After being told for two weeks they were good enough to compete with Clemson, then realize that nothing could be further from the truth, Dave Doeren's Mighty Laptops went up to Syracuse and showed who they truly are. No, you don't deserve to be higher in the ACC Power Rankings..... Paws Down

Virginia Tech

Yeah, all those Bud Foster and Brent Venables comparisons can just stop. After having already given up over 600 total yards to Old Dominion of all teams, now Fosters defense gives up over 400 yards rushing to Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets didn't complete a pass. Could Fosters long tenure be nearing its end..... Paws Down

Miami

The Hurricanes lost to Virginia before their bye week and then looked no better following a week off in a 13 point loss to Boston College in Chestnut Hill. Their normally salty defense didn’t come up with the big stops they needed, though the offense looked too hapless to capitalize anyway. They’re now 2-2 in the conference and need Virginia to lose two of their final three ACC games to have any chance to earn an ACCCG berth..... Paws Down

That's it for this week. Post your Paws Up or Paws Down opinions in the comments.