The Clemson Tigers moved to 1-1 on the 2023 season with a very strong second half and a stout defensive performance, pulling away for a 66-17 victory over Charleston Southern. The game had some positives but was certainly without some continued concerns. This weekly article recaps the work done by the rest of Clemson’s schedule and with each passing game, the slate looks more challenging.
Week One - Duke Blue Devils (2-0, 42-7 Win Over Lafayette)
The Blue Devils moved to 2-0, cruising to an easy win over the Lafayette Leopards. Riley Leonard was 12-12 for 136 yards and backup quarterback Henry Belin was 8-8 for 118 yards. Duke’s defense continues to impress, holding Lafayette to just 213 yards. They play Northwestern before traveling to UConn and should be 4-0 before hosting Notre Dame on September 30.
Week Three - Florida Atlantic (1-1, 17-10 Loss to Ohio)
There were rumblings that the Owls could be a dangerous opponent for Clemson. If Clemson keeps turning the ball over, that very well could be the case, who knows. That said, Florida Atlantic’s offense was awful against the Ohio Bobcats and they fell to 1-1. Casey Thompson only completed 54.8 percent of his passes and the Owls only had 185 total yards. Another very strong outing for the Clemson defense could be in the offing.
Week Four - Florida State (2-0, 66-13 Win Over Southern Mississippi)
The Florida State Seminoles had absolutely no problem following up their opening week over LSU as they trounced the Southern Miss Golden Eagles 66-13. Florida State looks the part of a National Championship contender. Jordan Travis was only 15-29 but he threw a pair of touchdowns and Noles racked up 306 rushing yards and eight yards per play. Florida State will travel to a woeful Boston College team before coming to Death Valley to play the Tigers.
Week Five - Syracuse (2-0, 48-7 Win Over Western Michigan)
The Orange led 45-7 at halftime and cruised to a 48-7 victory over Western Michigan to improve to 2-0. Garrett Shrader was 19-30 for 286 yards but the final score is a bit misleading. Syracuse did have 496 yards but they also surrendered 318 yards. Nonetheless, through two games (against Colgate and WMU), Syracuse is 2-0 and has a margin 113 points to just seven for their opposition. The building formerly known as the Carrier Dome is never a fun place to play and the Orange might be a very dangerous team. We’ll find out more about Syracuse this coming week as they travel to West Lafayette to play Purdue.
Week Six - Wake Forest (2-0, 36-20 Win Over Vanderbilt)
The SEC’s struggles this past weekend even extended to the bottom of the league and the Vanderbilt Commodores as Wake Forest improved to 2-0 with a home win over Vanderbilt, 36-20. Mitch Griffis was 17-26 for 196 yards with two touchdowns but it was the running game that stood out for the Demon Deacons. Demond Claiborne gained 165 yards on 26 attempts while Tate Carney added 117 yards on just 13 carries. Three turnovers by Vanderbilt flipped this game as Vanderbilt actually had a higher yards per play average (7.3 to 6.8). The Demon Deacons play Old Dominion and host Georgia Tech before a bye week. They will likely be well-rested and 4-0 coming to Clemson on October 7.
Week Seven - Miami (2-0, 48-33 Win Over Texas A&M)
The Miami Hurricanes manhandled the Texas A&M Aggies to improve to 2-0 on the season. The Hurricanes could be yet another ranked opponent when Clemson travels to Hard Rock Stadium after the October 14 bye week. Miami had 451 yards including 374 through the air and 8.4 yards per play. Texas A&M turned the ball over three times to turn the game for the Hurricanes. Miami has been looking for receivers to step up and aid Xavier Restrepo. Restrepo was good again (126 yards on six catches) and he finally got some help in a big game as Jacolby George had three receiving touchdowns. Miami plays Bethune-Cookman, Temple, Georgia Tech and North Carolina before hosting Clemson on October 21.
Week Eight - North Carolina State (1-1, 45-24 Loss to Notre Dame)
North Carolina State was thoroughly outclassed by Sam Hartman and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, falling in Raleigh 45-24. Notre Dame had 456 yards to 344 for NC State. The efficiency of the offense was a larger disparity: 7.5 yards per play for ND and 4.4 for the Wolfpack. In addition, North Carolina State had three turnovers. NC State gets VMI and Virginia next so they should move to 3-1 before hosting Louisville on September 29.
Week Nine - Notre Dame (3-0, 45-24 Win Over North Carolina State)
Clemson takes on Notre Dame right after playing at North Carolina State. Sam Hartman continues to look like a perfect fit for the Fighting Irish offense. He was 15-24 for 286 yards with four touchdowns and no turnovers. Audric Estime is a terrific running back and the Irish are hitting explosive plays at a rate that offense has not done for the past few seasons. The defense looks pretty strong, particularly upfront against the run. Notre Dame hosts Central Michigan before Ohio State comes to South Bend on September 23.
Week Ten - Georgia Tech (1-1, 48-13 Win Over South Carolina State)
The Yellow Jackets got on the board with a comfortable win over South Carolina State. Haynes King was 21-29 for 290 yards with four touchdowns. Georgia Tech had 578 yards of offense and averaged 8.6 yards per play in the victory. They play at Ole Miss this weekend before travelling to Wake Forest on September 23.
Week Eleven - North Carolina (2-0, 40-34 Win Over Appalachian State)
The North Carolina Tar Heels survived the Appalachian State Mountaineers in overtime, 40-34. Drake Maye was underwhelming in this contest, going 21-30 for 208 yards with no touchdowns. It was the running game that saved the day for UNC. Omarion Hampton had 222 yards with three touchdowns and averaged 9.3 yards per carry. It is difficult to tell what to make of this contest. The Tar Heels offense does not have the aerial firepower it had last season but they appear to be more balanced and the defense is at least slightly improved. They now travel to Pittsburgh and then return home to host Syracuse, Miami and Virginia.
Week Twelve - South Carolina (1-1, 47-21 Win Over Furman)
This game was tied after one quarter but the Gamecocks used a strong second and third quarters to pull away from the Paladins and win comfortably. Spencer Rattler was 25-27 for 345 yards with three touchdowns. Of concern for South Carolina, they only managed 108 yards rushing and the offensive line remains a gigantic issue. Next up for South Carolina: a trip to Athens to play the Georgia Bulldogs.
The 2023 Clemson schedule looks incredibly tough. Some of that has to do with concerns about how Clemson looks but a lot of these opponents have been quite impressive thus far. In total, Clemson’s opponents are 22-3 combined in the 2023 season.