The Clemson Tigers handled the North Carolina Tar Heels in Death Valley, sending the seniors off in style with a 31-20 victory. It was third straight victory for the Tigers as they continue to play their best football to close the season. How did the rest of Clemson’s schedule fare this past weekend?
Week One - Duke Blue Devils (6-5) - 27-30 Loss to Virginia
One might almost feel sorry for the Blue Devils. Duke has fallen off of a cliff since the injury to Riley Leonard in the Notre Dame game. They lost to the Irish and dropped to 4-1. After that defeat, they bounced back to handle North Carolina State but have gone only 1-4 since since. The Blue Devils were outgained 448 to 437 and the once-promising season now sees Duke sitting at 6-5. The one bright spot? Perhaps enough of the bloom has come off the rose that is head coach Mike Elko. Texas A&M might look elsewhere and maybe Elko stays in Durham. Duke closes with a game at home against the Pitt Panthers.
Week Two - Charleston Southern (4-7) - 10-34 Loss to Gardner-Webb
The Buccaneers fell at Gardner-Webb, ending the season at 4-7. They finished by losing four of the final five games as the offense consistently struggled. Charleston Southern will look to build on year number one for Gabe Giardina.
Week Three - Florida Atlantic (4-7) - 8-24 Loss to Tulane
Tom Herman’s first season with the Florida Atlantic Owls has not gone according to plan. The Owls have now lost three games in a row and the offense has completely fallen apart in the last two weeks, scoring a total of 15 points. The Green Wave comfortably dispatched the Owls, outgaining them by more than 100 yards and holding FAU to just 3.8 yards per play. LaJohntay Wester again led the way with 11 catches for 86 yards in the loss. FAU now plays Rice to close the campaign.
Week Four - Florida State (11-0) - 58-13 Win Over North Alabama
One of the biggest events of the college football weekend occurred in this game and it had nothing to do with the result. Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis suffered a gruesome and season-ending leg injury that could alter the College Football Playoff landscape. It was a devastating way for Travis’ FSU career to end and the Florida State Seminoles now have to find a way to adjust without their leader. North Alabama actually led this game 13-0 after the first quarter but the Seminoles rallied for 58 straight points to close the contest. Redshirt junior Tate Rodemaker is now the starting quarterback for Florida State and they will close the season with a road trip to Gainesville to play Florida before taking on Louisville in the ACC Championship Game. The Gators are very mediocre and will be without quarterback Graham Mertz so FSU will still be heavily favored but Louisville winning the ACC is now a real possibility.
Week Five - Syracuse Orange (5-6) - 22-31 Loss to Georgia Tech
Again, the outcome of this game was not the largest piece of news for Syracuse. The Orange fell to Georgia Tech and now need to beat Wake Forest at home to make a bowl game at 6-6. The passing offense continued to be non-existent as the Orange gained only 53 yards through the air and were outgained 344 to 259 as they fell behind 17-3 at the half. The bigger news came after the game as head coach Dino Babers was fired on Sunday. Babers was inconsistent throughout his eight-year tenure and was let go as Syracuse looks for a new direction. Early names linked with the job include Nebraska defensive coordinator Tony White, former Kent State head coach Sean Lewis and Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles.
Week Six - Wake Forest (4-7) - 7-45 Loss to Notre Dame
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons will officially miss a bowl game. For the second straight week, the Demon Deacons were blown out and scored less than ten points as they fell to 4-7 on the campaign. Head coach Dave Clawson has had no answers to turn around the anemic offense and the Demon Deacons are now 123rd in the country in points per game (17.5). Michael Kern completed only 11 of 20 passes for 81 yards and Wake Forest does not appear to have a quarterback they can rely on moving forward. Will Dave Clawson stay in Winston-Salem or will he search for an escape route? What changes can Wake Forest personnel wise in the transfer portal to improve the offense for 2024?
Week Seven - Miami (6-5) - 31-38 Loss to Louisville
The loss to Miami still stings as much as perhaps any other as the Hurricanes fell in another close game and are now just 6-5 on the season. Miami lost to Louisville as a Hail Mary attempt came up five yards short of the end zone and the Hurricanes lost 38-31. Both teams ran the ball well as the Cardinals ran for 167 yards and Miami churned out 176 on the ground. Tyler Van Dyke was thrust back into the starting role after the injury to Emory Williams and responded with a 24-39 showing for 327 yards. Xavier Restrepo did everything possible for Miami, catching eight passes for 193 yards with a touchdown and it was his 45-yard catch that nearly tied the game as the clock expired. The Hurricanes close the season with a game at Boston College.
Week Eight - North Carolina State (8-3) - 35-28 Win Over Virginia Tech
Credit to Dave Doeren and the North Carolina State Wolfpack as they have now won four games in a row and have a chance to win ten games if they can beat UNC and win a bowl game. The Wolfpack led 35-14 after three quarters and a pair of Hokies touchdowns did with less than ten minutes remaining cut the margin to seven before NC State closed the game with an onside kick recovery. Brennan Armstrong was 18 for 26 for 203 yards with two touchdowns plus 116 yards with two touchdowns on the ground. KC Concepcion had one passing touchdown and two receiving touchdowns as he continues to emerge as one of the better gadget weapons in the country. Dave Doeren has done a terrific job this season in Raleigh.
Week Nine - Notre Dame (8-3) - 45-7 Win Over Wake Forest
Notre Dame overwhelmed the Wake Forest Demon Deacons for a comfortable 45-7 win in South Bend. Sam Hartman threw for 277 yards with four touchdowns against his former squad and the Fighting Irish outgained Wake Forest 450 to 232. Notre Dame now gets Stanford to close the season and they still have a shot to win double-digit games.
Week Ten - Georgia Tech (6-5) - 31-22 Win Over Syracuse
Congratulations to Brent Key and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. In his first full season as the head coach of the Yellow Jackets, Key has led Georgia Tech to a bowl game. Haynes King was 16-20 for 138 yards with two touchdowns plus 88 yards rushing with another score. Jamal Haynes added 83 yards and a touchdown on the ground. As previously mentioned, this was the final nail in the coffin for Dino Babers and Georgia Tech continues to rise under Key. The Yellow Jackets now have to play the unbeaten Georgia Bulldogs.
Week Twelve - South Carolina (5-6) - 17-14 Win Over Kentucky
Buckle up, the South Carolina Gamecocks have won back-to-back games and can reach a bowl game with an upset of the Clemson Tigers at night in Columbia this Saturday. The Wildcats outgained South Carolina 293 to 257 and held the Gamecocks to only 50 yards rushing and 1.5 yards per carry but as has so often been the case this season, receiver Xavier Legette saved the day for SC. Legette had 94 yards with two touchdowns including the go-ahead score with less than five minutes remaining. Pressuring Rattler and slowing down Legette will be items A, B, C, D and E on Clemson’s scouting report this week.
The Tigers play the Gamecocks on Saturday night at 7:30 on the SEC Network.