The Clemson Tigers struggled to put away the Wake Forest Demon Deacons but prevailed for a 17-12 victory in Death Valley on Homecoming weekend. The victory improved the Tigers to 4-2 as they head into a much-needed bye week before a trip to Coral Gables. How did Clemson’s opponents perform this past weekend?
Week One - Duke Blue Devils (4-1 - BYE WEEK)
Duke had the week off after losing a heartbreaker to Notre Dame to close out September. Riley Leonard will be sidelined with a high-ankle sprain for at least a couple of games including the clash this coming Saturday night against North Carolina State.
Week Two - Charleston Southern (2-3 - BYE WEEK)
The Buccaneers had the week off. They will play the Lindenwood Lions on October 14.
Week Three - Florida Atlantic (2-3 - 20-17 Win Over Tulsa)
Tom Herman’s FAU Owls knocked off the Tulsa Golden Hurricane to improve to 2-3 on the season. The Owls jumped out to a 14-0 lead before holding on late to get the victory. FAU nudged Tulsa 378-376 in yards and forced one more turnover (two to one) to come out on top. Larry McCammon led the way on offense, rushing for 130 yards on 26 carries with two touchdowns. FAU travels to South Florida this weekend.
Week Four - Florida State Seminoles (5-0 - 39-17 Win Over Virginia Tech)
The Seminoles remained unbeaten, comfortably dispatching the hapless Virginia Tech Hokies. FSU led 22-0 after one quarter and cruised to the victory behind 200 yards on the ground for Trey Benson. Benson had just 11 carries and averaged 18.2 yards per touch. Jordan Travis was efficient, completing 18 of 24 passes for 170 yards with two scores, both to Johnny Wilson. Of concern for the Seminoles, Johnny Wilson left the game in the third quarter with an injury and Mike Norvell did not provide an update after the contest. Wilson appeared to let fans know that he was fine with a social media post later in the day. The Seminoles now take on reeling Syracuse this coming weekend.
Week Five - Syracuse Orange (4-2 - 40-7 Loss to North Carolina)
The train is off the tracks for the Syracuse Orange. They traveled to Chapel Hill and were soundly beaten, falling behind 27-0 at halftime as Drake Maye threw for 442 yards with three touchdowns. UNC had 644 yards to Syracuse’s 221 as the Tar Heels ran 97 plays to only 51 for Syracuse. Garrett Shrader was kept in check and the Orange defense was helpless to slow down North Carolina on the road. The Orange now travel to FSU before a bye week. They still have games against Virginia Tech, Boston College, Pitt, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest so a bowl game is still likely.
Week Seven - Miami Hurricanes (4-1 - 23-20 Loss to Georgia Tech)
Cutting straight to the chase, Miami should be 5-0 and whatever disgruntlement Clemson fans have with the Tigers offensive coaching staff or Dabo Swinney pale in comparison to how Miami fans feel about Mario Cristobal right now. The Hurricanes played poorly but still had a lead and could have run out the clock by taking a knee. Georgia Tech was out of timeouts and fewer than thirty seconds remained in the game. For reasons unknown, Cristobal and the Hurricanes opted to hand the ball off for a run instead of having Tyler Van Dyke take a knee to end the game. Running back Don Chaney fumbled and Georgia Tech took over possession at its own 26-yard line with just 26 seconds remaining. The defense still should have been able to get a stop but with ten seconds remaining, Haynes King connected with Christian Leary for a 44-yard touchdown to wipe Miami from the ranks of the unbeaten. Miami outgained Georgia Tech 453 to 250 but turned the ball over five times en route to the defeat. The biggest question now is how does Miami respond to the loss? They play at North Carolina on Saturday night and are underdogs. It’s very possible the Hurricanes are riding a two-game skid before hosting Clemson on October 21.
Week Eight - North Carolina State (4-2 - 48-41 Win Over Marshall)
The big news prior to this game was that Brennan Armstrong was being sat in favor of MJ Morris. Armstrong was brought in from the transfer portal and was reunited with offensive coordinator Robert Anae in hopes of finding the magic they created together at Virginia in 2021. Things never clicked in 2023 for Armstrong and he was benched for this weekend’s game for the sophomore MJ Morris. Morris was far from perfect but the offense looked better than it had as he threw for 265 yards with four touchdowns as the Wolfpack survived a tough challenge from Marshall. Of note, Morris also threw a trio of interceptions and NC State was actually outgained by Marshall but the Thundering Herd lost a pair of fumbles and only managed 2.7 yards per carry. The Wolfpack now travel to Durham to play Duke sans Riley Leonard on Saturday night. They then have a bye week prior to hosting Clemson.
Week Nine - Notre Dame (5-2 - 33-20 Loss to Louisville)
Another year with talk of Notre Dame being “for real,” another season where the Irish end up with multiple losses. After escaping Duke last week, Notre Dame was not so fortunate on Saturday night in Louisville. The Cardinals trounced them in the second half, outscoring ND 26-6 before a late Irish touchdown to make it 33-20. Notre Dame only managed 44 yards on the ground and turned the ball over five times in a miserable offensive performance. Louisville is still unbeaten and it was the defense carrying the day for Jeff Brohm’s squad. Notre Dame now has two losses and looks without answers on offense. Whatever the point total ends up being set at by the oddsmakers for the Notre Dame versus Clemson contest on November 4, take the under! The Fighting Irish now play USC before a bye week. If there was any team their offense could “get right” against, it’s the Trojans.
Week Ten - Georgia Tech (3-3 - 23-20 Win Over Miami)
Read above for the full recap of dramatic events that earned GT this win. It was an important one for Brent Key and the Yellow Jackets as they improved to 3-3 on the season but it’s not a performance that was all that encouraging. Granted, it’s way better than losing to Bowling Green like they did the previous week but this still does not have the makings of a good team. Georgia Tech only had 250 yards of offense, Haynes King was 12 for 25 for 151 yards (44 of which came on the final play) and two interceptions and the Yellow Jackets were penalized 11 times. Credit to Georgia Tech for finding a way to win and to force five turnovers. They now have a bye week before playing Boston College. Looking at GT’s schedule, they have the game against BC along with contests against Virginia and Syracuse as opportunities to get to six wins. Games against North Carolina, at Clemson and Georgia look tougher.
Week Eleven - North Carolina (5-0 - 40-7 Win Over Syracuse)
Drake Maye was outstanding against the Syracuse Orange as North Carolina rolled over the Orange in Chapel Hill. Maye completed 70.2% of his passes for 442 yards with three touchdowns as two receivers went over 100 yards. Perhaps more concerning for opponents is that the defense continues to improve. UNC held Syracuse to just 221 yards of offense and forced a pair of turnovers in the route. The Tar Heels have the following games prior to coming to Death Valley on November 18: Miami, Virginia, at Georgia Tech, Campbell (go Fighting Camels) and Duke. Are you prepared for an unbeaten, top ten Tar Heels team that is favored at Clemson?
Week Twelve - South Carolina (2-3 - BYE WEEK)
The South Carolina Gamecocks were off this week after losing to Tennessee. The 2-3 Gamecocks now host Florida before traveling to unbeaten Missouri.