You know, sometimes a bye week can come at just the right time.
Take, for example the Clemson Tigers - who barely survived a scare against UNC two weeks ago, and for whom the primary question coming out of the bye week was: how would they respond?
Well, respond they did - with a decisive 45-14 win over the Florida State Seminoles… in a game that somehow didn’t even seem that close.
But while the result was hardly surprising… that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few eyebrow raising things that could indicate some trends worth watching as the year wears on.
Let’s dig into a few of them…
The running game was key to the game
Coming into this match-up, I assumed that the key to the game would be the passing game. Florida State, after all, was abysmal in the secondary and their one strength seemed to be their ability to stop the run.
Well, so much for that.
Clemson ran for 320 yards - second only to their total against Georgia Tech in week one - with Travis Etienne leading the way at 127 yards on 17 carries (again, second only to his performance against Georgia Tech).
For what it’s worth, the passing game was by no means bad. In fact, it was arguably as effective as we all thought it would be: Trevor Lawrence went 17 for 25 for 170 yards and three touchdowns (along with one interception on a ridiculous grab by Hamsah Nasirildeen). But be it simply overconfidence in FSU’s run defense or getting lulled by Travis Etienne not hitting 100 yards in a game since week one, I overlooked this rushing attack - who simply tore up the Seminole interior.
James Blackman’s day was… much worse than expected
I spent the week’s preview talking about how Blackman would be the key to any chance the Seminoles had at pulling off this massive upset. And in a way… I guess I was right.
Blackman had arguably the worst day of his career on Saturday in Death Valley, completing just nine passes for 66 yards and two interceptions (both of which were… well they didn’t look great) to finish with just a 45.8 QB rating.
Alex Hornibook was only slightly better in going 8-12, but he, too, threw a terrible pick and finished with just 84 yards.
And, as I predicted, the Seminoles never really stood a chance.
Even with this bounceback win… the country is skill overlooking Clemson
It was likely any win Clemson put together this weekend would be stymied by the Georgia loss to South Carolina. The Tigers aren’t alone, after all; the Dawgs losing gobbled up the rest of the news cycle, too.
But the rest of the country still seems to be in “wait and see” mode with the Tigers. Granted, the schedule Clemson is playing warrants some questions, but you must wonder if this is the way the entire country will be talking about them all the way until the conference championship game.
Still, let everyone overlook the Tigers - this win over FSU was incredibly important for re-establishing a rhythm in the latter half of the year. Dabo Swinney called this Clemson’s best performance yet, and if they can build on it in the second part of the year, they’ll be peaking at just the right time.
Clemson’s year is half over - but there’s still time to get into your perfect place to stay!
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