Deon Cain

Getty Images

Clemson handling Lamar Jackson and Louisville through one half

Leave a comment

One of the few questions about Clemson entering tonight was Kelly Bryant‘s ability to handle his first road start, and specifically his first road start on the stage of a nationally televised primetime audience. He answered that question as early as possible.

After Clemson forced a three-and-out to open the game, Bryant moved the Tigers 79 yards in 10 plays, taking care of the last eight himself to stake Clemson to a 7-0 lead.

A pair of punts pinned Louisville’s third possession at its own 5-yard line, and Lamar Jackson handled all 95 available yards, rushing for 55 — with 15 given by a late hit — and throwing for the final 11, a strike to Charles Standberry to knot the game at 7-7 with 4:22 remaining in the first quarter.

The Tigers moved the ball on their next three possessions — a 36-yard march that ended in a missed Greg Huegel field goal, a 41-yarder that led to a made field goal, and then a 90-yard touchdown drive punctuated by a 79-yard dagger from Bryant to Ray Ray McCloud, handing Clemson a 16-7 lead with 4:06 to play in the half.

Bryant hit Deon Cain for another touchdown on Clemson’s final drive before the half, but the play was called back due to offsetting penalties. The drive ended in a career-long 49-yard Huegel field goal, providing the halftime score of 19-7. Bryant closed the half hitting 17-of-27 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown with 12 carries for 35 yards and another score.

Clemson’s defense, meanwhile, has been as good as advertised. None of Louisville’s four possessions after the touchdown lasted longer than five plays, and Jackson was limited to 7-of-19 passing for 72 yards and a score with six carries for 55 yards.

Louisville will receive to open the second half.

Kelly Bryant has settled in as Clemson’s new QB

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Overreactions to one half of football in the first half of the season opener are often times misguided, but it was hard not to like what Clemson fans witnessed from their new starting quarterback, Kelly Bryant. But after a fast start in the first quarter with 21 points scored by the defending national champions, Clemson is holding a lead of just 28-3 at the half against Kent State.

Bryant ended the first half having completed 14 of 20 passes for 178 yards, with 61 of them coming on this deep pass to Deon Cain for a touchdown.

And yes, he is even quite cordial to the referees, as evidenced by this moment at the end of a play.

Bryant has also impressed with his running abilities as well, as he currently leads all players with 77 rushing yards and a touchdown. All things considered, this has been a fine start to the season for the Tigers after just one half of play. While a handful of top 10 teams had questionable first halves in their openers, Clemson has been just dandy.

Alabama leads Clemson with just one quarter left in the national title game

Getty Images
Leave a comment

All good things must come to an end and there is just one more quarter of college football left this season. Judging by the way the College Football Playoff National Championship Game has gone for three quarters, the end of this season is looking like it will be wrapping up the same way the last did too.

Alabama continued to control the game on both sides of the ball, grinding their way to a 24-14 lead entering the fourth quarter after a few big plays for both teams highlighted the effort coming out of halftime.

The Tide could have had a more comfortable margin had they capitalized on yet another costly Clemson turnover after tailback Wayne Gallman fumbled on the Tigers’ opening drive of the second half, which setup Alabama in red zone. The offense stagnated however, and was held to a field goal to extend their lead to double digits.

After exchanging punts later in the quarter, Clemson finally showed some life for the first time in the second half on one of the rare times they began with good field position. Following a clutch play from Watson and Deon Cain to move the offense down the field, the quarterback found reliable receiver Hunter Renfrow across the middle for a 24 yard touchdown that narrowed things on the scoreboard and seemed to ignite the Clemson faithful who made the trip down to Tampa.

Alabama never seemed to panic despite the momentum shifting a bit and tailback Bo Scarbrough (team-high 93 yards, two scores) limp off with a leg injury of unknown severity. That’s because quarterback Jalen Hurts finally was able to do something with his arm, launching a deep pass to a wide-open O.J. Howard for a 68 yard touchdown that evoked plenty of memories from last season’s game.

There’s still plenty of time for the Tigers to get back into this one with the offense in the red zone entering the fourth but, with just one quarter left in the national title game, the Crimson Tide dynasty is looking well on their way to picking up another ring for head coach Nick Saban.

VIDEO: Watch Clemson light offensive spark in three plays

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Down 14-0 in the second quarter and stuck starting an offensive series from their own 13-yard line, Clemson needed to make some big plays happen. They did just that. Three plays highlighted the much-needed seven-play drive that ended in the end zone with Deshaun Watson finding a path for a touchdown to cut into the Alabama lead in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

It began with a 44-yard catch-and-run  from Watson to Deon Cain

A few plays later, Watson connected over the middle of the field with Jordan Leggett for a 26-yard gain to move into the red zone for the first time in the game…

Watson would finish the drove off with an eight-yard touchdown run a couple of plays later…

Clemson really needed that score, and it helped to give the defense a little bit of a rest after having Bo Scarbrough break off a pair of long touchdown runs on them in the first half.

No. 2 Clemson one win shy of ACC Atlantic title after flattening Syracuse

AP
3 Comments

First-year Syracuse head coach Dino Babers indicated earlier this week he didn’t think his Orange stood much of a chance of waltzing into Death Valley East and coming out with a Tiger tail.

Boy, was he right.

No. 2 Clemson (9-0, 6-0 ACC) flattened an over-matched Syracuse squad 54-0, extending its regular-season winning streak to 24 games, its ACC winning streak to 15 and its streak over unranked opponents to 44.

The game was truly never in doubt. The registered a field goal on their first possession and later returned an interception of Syracuse (4-5, 2-3 ACC) quarterback Eric Dungey 17 yards to the Orange 15. Three plays and a 1-yard Deshaun Watson run later and Clemson had a 10-0 cushion.

That touchdown was the beginning of an avalanche where the Tigers ended four straight drives with touchdowns — the last three of which came on drives of 95, 89 and 86 yards. Watson fired two touchdown passes and appeared primed for a third before, in truly the only dark moment of the day for Clemson, he left the game with pain in his right, throwing shoulder. Back-up Nick Schuessler closed the drive with a touchdown pass of his own, giving the Tigers a 30-0 lead just before the half, while Watson was taken to the locker room.

Clemson’s franchise quarterback did not return, but the Tigers said he could have if the game had been, you know, a game.

He finished the day hitting 13-of-16 passing for 169 yards and two touchdowns while rushing seven times for 39 yards and a score.

Playing most of the second half before he himself was pulled, Schuessler connected on 11-of-17 passes for 177 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Clemson opened the second half by pushing the score to 37-0 on a 5-yard Wayne Gallman (10 carries, 63 yards) rush, then added another score on an 18-yard Deon Cain reception from Schuessler. The Tigers’ final touchdown came on a Syracuse pass that bounced off a number of players’ lower extremities before defender Tanner Muse grabbed the pigskin and raced 64 yards with a touchdown at the 7:40 mark of the fourth quarter.

Dungey started the game and completed 6-of-9 throws for 48 yards and an interception before leaving with an injury of his own. Austin Wilson played the majority of the remainder and hit 17-of-27 passes for 116 yards and two interceptions.

Syracuse needs to beat two of NC State, Florida State and Pittsburgh to reach a bowl game in Babers’s first season. Clemson, meanwhile, has loftier goals. The Tigers are a win away from clinching their second straight ACC Championship appearance and are three wins away from booking back-to-back undefeated regular seasons.