Clemson may or may not be a national title contender, but they battled back to take one more step toward a potential ACC championship run Thursday night. After a sluggish start, Clemson pulled away for a road win at North Carolina State, 26-14. Tajh Boyd had a three-touchdown night while passing for 244 yards, Martavis Bryant had two touchdowns and Sammy Watkins had 96 receiving yards for the Tigers.
North Carolina State appeared to have taken the lead when Bryan Underwood took a handoff from his own 17-yard line and swept up the right sideline all the way for a touchdown. Despite video replay showing it appeared Underwood kept his feet in on his dash up the right side of the field, officials blew the play dead after 36 yards thinking he stepped out of bounds. The play was not reviewed in the booth and North Carolina State did not challenge the ruling. This is the play in question.
To pour some salt on the wound, three plays later quarterback Pete Thomas was sacked by Clemson’s Vic Beasley, jarring the ball loose and recovered by the Tigers. Five plays later Boyd connected with Martavis Bryant for a 30-yard touchdown pass and a 20-7 lead. This all developed in a span of just over two minutes of game time, and it may have turned the entire game around.
Clemson would go on to score another touchdown early in the fourth quarter and never looked back.
Of course we will never know what would have happened if North Carolina State had taken a 14-13 lead. Maybe Clemson comes back down field to take the lead anyway. But maybe they don’t and North Carolina State holds on.
We can spend plenty of time looking back and asking “What if?” but instead let’s turn the page and discuss what is next. The big question may be if you believe Clemson is a BCS contender based on what we witnessed Thursday night. The Tigers probably didn’t convince many people of that idea, although there is something to be said for the way this team responded after getting a good battle from North Carolina State. We will be quick to look ahead to October 19 when Clemson hosts Florida State. That game could loom large for the ACC picture. If Clemson can reach their next bye week without a loss, which appears likely if they beat Florida State, then the games at home against Georgia Tech and at South Carolina could be very interesting. This assuming Clemson does not fall victim to an upset along the way, which sometimes feels more a matter of “when” and not “if.”
As for North Carolina State, the defense managed to come up with some good stops early on but ended up getting beat on some deep passes in the second half. For the most part, the Wolfpack played Clemson pretty evenly. Penalties became a factor for the home team and the lone turnover of the game, as mentioned above, came at a real unfortunate time. North Carolina State probably doesn’t have the talent to compete for an ACC title, but this could be a team nobody in the ACC will want to play this fall. A bowl game is absolutely within view for the Wolfpack this year.
Arizona State and Mississippi State on Tuesday announced a home-and-home series to be played in 2024-25. Arizona State will host the first game in Tempe on Sept. 7, 2024, and the clubs will meet in Starkville on Sept. 6, 2025.
The Sun Devils and Bulldogs have never met previously.
The Arizona State trip is not Mississippi State’s only upcoming trek from the Deep South to the Southwest. The Bulldogs also lined up a visit to Arizona in 2020 and Texas Tech in 2029. Mississippi State will open the 2024 season against Eastern Kentucky and visit Southern Miss the week after its Arizona State visit, on Sept. 14. The Bulldogs have no other games lined up in 2025 as of yet, according to FBSchedules.
Likewise, Mississippi State is not the Sun Devils’ lone upcoming SEC opponent. Arizona State has a home-and-home with LSU on the docket for 2026-28, per FBSchedules. The Mississippi State games complete both of the Sun Devils’ non-conference schedules for these respective seasons. Arizona State opens with Wyoming and visits Texas State in 2024, and hosts Northern Arizona and Texas State in 2025.
Help is on the way for Chip Kelly‘s offensive line. One graduate transfer offensive lineman has the Bruins on his list, but another has already pulled the trigger for UCLA.
Texas Tech graduate transfer Justin Murphy on Tuesday committed to UCLA in a post on his Twitter account.
A native of Belton, Texas, Murphy signed with Texas Tech in 2014 and made four starts at right guard as a redshirt freshman. He again started four games at right guard in ’15 before moving out to tackle, where he started another four games. But after battling a series of knee injuries, Murphy announced in the middle of the 2016 season he had medically retired from the game.
After sitting out 2017, Murphy announced in March he planned to make a comeback.
UCLA remarkably started the same offensive linemen in all 13 games last season, but tackle Kolton Miller entered the NFL draft, guard Najoee Toran and center Scott Quessenberry graduated.
There are plenty of annoying trends on Twitter, but perhaps the worst is the “I’ll do X if this gets retweeted X-thousand amount of times.” I blame Wendy’s.
But blanket policies are never a good way to go through life, and an exception was made on Tuesday when Toledo offered to change its mascot from a rocket to Shrek with 500,000 retweets.
Sadly, some dreams are simply too beautiful to live in this fallen world, and the tweet was outed to be a hoax. “We are definitely not changing the school mascot to Shrek,” Toledo media relations specialist Christine Billau told USA Today. “The tweet was meant to be fun, but it caused too much of a distraction.”
Meanwhile, Bowling Green gleefully hopped on the dog pile with both elbows pointed out.
It’s not yet known to where Jack Driscoll will transfer, but the field has been significantly narrowed.
Earlier this offseason, Driscoll decided to transfer from UMass. Tuesday, the offensive tackle confirmed to Rivals.com that he’s down to three schools as a potential landing spot — Auburn, UCLA and USC.
Neither football program will have to wait long for a decision as Driscoll expects to make an announcement Wednesday. Driscoll had taken an official visit to all three of the campuses prior to whittling down his transfer to-do list.
“It will come down to one of those three schools,” the lineman told AuburnSports.com. “I feel like all three of the schools would be a good fit.”
Driscoll will graduate from UMass early next month, and will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 at whichever program he selects. The upcoming season will be the first of two years of eligibility the 6-5, 294-pound lineman has remaining.
After starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, with most of those starts coming at left guard, he started all 12 games in 2017. All of those starts this past season came at right tackle for the football-independent Minutemen. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent first team while he earned second-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors for good measure.