September 23 was a massive day in college football. Clemson falling in overtime to the Florida State Seminoles was just one of many consequential results around the sport. How did each of Clemson’s 2023 opponents perform?
Week 1 - Duke Blue Devils - 4-0 (41-7 Win Over UConn)
The Duke Blue Devils keep on rolling, moving to 4-0 on the 2023 campaign with a dominant win at UConn. UConn, playing with a backup quarterback, gained only 203 yards and turned the ball over twice as Duke cruised. Duke now hosts Notre Dame this Saturday.
Week 2 - Charleston Southern - 1-3 (77-21 Loss to Western Carolina)
Week 3 - Florida Atlantic - 1-3 (23-17 Loss at Illinois)
The FAU Owls were without starting quarterback Casey Thompson but battled Illinois in Champaign and nearly left with a win. The Illini rushed for 207 yards and threw for 303 on their way to the narrow victory while FAU leaned on LaJohntay Wester. The explosive wideout had 137 yards receiving on 13 catches along with one touchdown to keep the Owls in the hunt.
Week 5 - Syracuse - 4-0 (29-16 Win Over Army)
The Tigers next opponent is still unbeaten. Syracuse defeated Army by a score of 29-16, overcoming a 10-3 halftime deficit with 26 points in the second half. Garrett Shrader was 20-25 for 216 yards with one touchdown plus 49 yards rushing and another score to lead the way. The Orange outgained Army 404-274 and forced a pair of turnovers to seal the game.
Week 6 - Wake Forest - 3-1 (30-16 Loss to Georgia Tech)
Wake Forest entered their week four game at 3-0 but they were only slight favorites at home to Georgia Tech. Despite outgaining the Yellow Jackets 386 to 380, Wake suffered its first loss of the season thanks to five turnovers. Mitch Griffis was only 16 for 27 for 162 yards with two interceptions and the offensive line struggled in pass protection all game as GT sprinted to a 20-3 halftime lead. Wake Forest now has a bye before coming to Clemson on October 7.
Week 7 - Miami - 4-0 (41-7 Win Over Temple)
The Hurricanes blew through the Owls with ease, coasting to a 38-7 lead after three quarters and a 41-7 final to move to 4-0 on the season. Miami outgained Temple 510-279. Tyler Van Dyke was efficient, going 17-24 for 220 yards with three touchdowns and no turnovers. Miami has an off week before hosting Georgia Tech and then travelling to North Carolina on October 14.
Week 8 - NC State - 3-1 (24-21 Win Over Virginia)
The North Carolina State avoided a disastrous loss, winning at Virginia 24-21 with a 33-yard field goal as time expired. The Wolfpack are now 3-1 but they cannot feel too positive about how they have played thus far. The Cavaliers outgained NC State 384-319 and Brennan Armstrong continues to struggle to get the passing game on track. He was just 15-30 for 180 yards and the Wolfpack continue to have to rely on his legs to move the ball. Virginia’s Anthony Colandrea looked like the better quarterback in this game and NC State was fortunate to get the victory. They return to Raleigh to host the unbeaten Louisville Cardinals.
Week 9 - Notre Dame - 4-1 (17-14 Loss to Ohio State)
On a day filled with huge games, Ohio State versus Notre Dame in South Bend was arguably the biggest game of the day. It was a defensive struggle with neither team able to really get into rhythm on offense. The Buckeyes led 3-0 at halftime and got a 61-yard touchdown run from TreVeyon Henderson to take a 10-0 lead. Notre Dame battled back with a pair of scores to get a 14-10 edge in the fourth quarter. They were in great shape with a fourth down stop with under five minutes remaining but the Irish offense failed to put the game away, allowing Ohio State one more chance. Kyle McCord connected with Emeka Egbuka at the one-yard line with less than ten seconds left in the game. On first and goal, McCord threw incomplete to Marvin Harrison Jr. but on second and goal, McCord handed off to Chip Trayanum who stretched into the end zone and put the Buckeyes ahead 17-14 with one second remaining. Notre Dame has a very interesting game at Duke this coming Saturday night before travelling to Louisville on October 7 and then hosting USC on October 14.
Week 10 - Georgia Tech - 2-2 (30-16 Win at Wake Forest)
Brent Key’s Yellow Jackets got a big win in Winston-Salem on Saturday, beating the Wake Forest Demon Deacons thanks to five forced turnovers. Wake Forest took a 3-0 lead before Tech rattled off 20 straight points (two Haynes King touchdown passes included). They would add three field goals and a Haynes King rushing touchdown to seal the 30-16 win. Georgia Tech now hosts Bowling Green with a chance to get to 3-2 before playing at Miami on October 7.
Week 11 - North Carolina - 4-0 (41-24 Win at Pittsburgh)
Clemson’s final home game of the 2023 season is November 18 against the North Carolina Tar Heels. UNC improved to 4-0 with a comfortable 41-24 victory over a desperate Pitt Panthers team in Acrisure Stadium. Drake Maye was 22-30 for 296 yards with one touchdown but the Tar Heels continue to get good contributions from a much-improved defense. Pittsburgh had only 304 yards of offense and half of those came in the first quarter. In addition, UNC had two interceptions of backup quarterback Christian Veilleux. North Carolina is off this week before hosting Syracuse on October 7 and Miami on October 14.
Week 12 - South Carolina - 2-2 (37-30 Win Over Mississippi State)
Everyone knows who Clemson finishes the season with. The Gamecocks held off Mississippi State 37-30 to improve to 2-2 on the season. Spencer Rattler continues to impress, completing 18 of 20 passes for 288 yards with three touchdowns and adding 43 yards on the ground. The Bulldogs appeared to abandon the pro-style offense they wanted to transition to and allowed Will Rogers to air it out. He responded with 487 yards against the Gamecocks secondary but Mississippi State only had 32 yards on the ground and fell on the road.
Clemson’s goals of making the College Football Playoff and winning another ACC Championship, barring major upsets to several teams, appear to be off the table. There is still plenty to play for but the Tigers have their work cut out for them. There are no remaining opponents with a current losing record and Syracuse, Miami and North Carolina are all still unbeaten.