Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of college football is the annual “cupcake week” situated towards the backend of every season. Fans across the sport were blessed to avoid such matters transpiring all on the same week this year, but that didn’t mean the Southeast’s top programs went without their fair share of blowouts at the mercy of FCS and group of five teams.
Nah, just kidding. The remains of Todd Grantham’s atrocious defense let up 42 points to the Bulldogs in the first half.
Nevertheless, Clemson found itself with some excitement at the helm of the quasi-bye week. A few guys earned their first touchdown of the season, the freshmen earned quality action, and the starters received some well-deserved rest time.
WR Dacari Collins
Making his first appearance on the list, freshman receiver Dacari Collins recorded six receptions for 97 yards, leading his team in the receiving category. The 6-foot-4 Atlanta native saw minimal action on the season prior to Saturday, with his only other receptions coming in lieu of an early season triumph over FCS South Carolina State.
Collins found himself as the 17th ranked player in the state of Georgia during the 2021 recruiting cycle (according to the 247 Sports Composite). He was rated as the 32nd highest wide receiver nationally, with multiple blue-blood schools — most notably Alabama and USC — on the table making offers.
RB Phil Mafah
Leading his team in rushing, Phil Mafah moved the rock on 17 occasions for 49 yards, punching it into once in the process. Mafah, who played his first game as a Tiger against Boston College, has rushed for 192 yards over a span of six games. Saturday’s totals in both carries and yardage qualify as the highest of his career thus far.
RB Darien Rencher
In lieu of a plethora of Clemson’s younger guys earning cracks at playing time, RB Darien Rencher stood out as one of Saturday’s few notable seniors. The 5-foot-8 Anderson native carried the rock on 14 occasions for 37 yards, earning career highs in both categories. His playing time has served as minimal compared to prior years (despite never being the star, he did earn appearances in the majority of games), but Saturday’s performance represented a preferable way to cap off his career as a Tiger.
RB Brian Brewton
In a stunning way to begin a seemingly-innocent contest, UConn running back Brian Brewton exploded up the field on the opening kickoff to put his team in the driver’s seat. The score did silence the crowd for the moment, but as Ohio State found out in the 2006 BCS National Championship Game, returning the ball back on the opening doesn’t correlate with automatically winning football games, nor avoiding being blown out.
Brewton, who garnered his team’s only points of the game, stole the day in the special teams category with three returns for 190 yards.