With first place in the ACC Atlantic Divison on the line, NC State is leading the defending national champions by four points at halftime. Up 21-17 at halftime in Raleigh, the Wolfpack will have to be ready to find a way to finish this game on a strong note against Clemson.
NC State got the party started early with Tim Kidd-Glass coming up with an interception of Kelly Bryant on the third play of the game. Setting up the Wolfpack offense at the Clemson 40-yard line, NC State wasted no time taking advantage of the early turnover. Ryan Finley completed a 40-yard pass for a touchdown to Kelvin Harmon for the early 7-0 lead. Clemson’s offense could not get much going on their next possession and ended a five-play drive with a punt, but the Tigers defense came through with a quick three-and-out. It was at this point Clemson’s Ray-Ray McCloud ripped off an impressive 77-yard punt return for a touchdown to even things at 7-7.
NC State and Clemson then exchanged 12-play touchdown drives to keep things even at 14-14. NC State responded once more with another strong touchdown drive with Finley finding plenty of success through the air. The drive ended with a touchdown pass to Jaylen Samuels to go up 21-14. Clemson cut into the lead with a field goal. The Tigers added another field goal in the final seconds as the teams went to the locker room at halftime to create the one-point game. NC State had missed a field goal on their final possession of the half.
The winner of this game will take first place in the ACC Atlantic Division, which likely means the winner of this game will end up playing for the ACC championship. For Clemson, the fourth team in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, the stakes are a bit higher at the moment as well. There has never been a two-loss conference champion in the four-team playoff. Of course, NC State is hoping to become the first as well.
Clemson saw their ACC and national title dreams hit a bump in the road Friday night at Syracuse, but the larger focus was not on the loss to the Orange but the status of quarterback Kelly Bryant. A week after being taken out of a game with an injured ankle, Bryant was once again removed from the game due to injury. This time it was a concussion from the turf in the Carrier Dome in the first half of Clemson’s road game at Syracuse.
On Monday, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said Bryant has shown some positive sides in the concussion protocol, which should be encouraging for Clemson and Clemson fans hoping to see Bryant back on the field as soon as possible.
Clemson is off this week with a bye, which gives the Tigers a little extra time to get in better shape, regroup from the loss, and focus on the next objective. Clemson returns to action on Oct. 28 at home against Georgia Tech before a road trip to NC State in what looks now to be the key game in the ACC Atlantic Division. The Wolfpack are the last unbeaten team in the division and have already taken out Florida State and Louisville. A win against Clemson could potentially lock up up a spot in the ACC Championship Game for the first time in program history.
With time at their leisure before their next game, Clemson can play it extra safe with Bryant moving forward. The bye week could not have come at a better time for the defending national champions given the current circumstances.
Syracuse fans, did you think you might get a chance to play Clemson in the Dome this weekend without their starting quarterback, Kelly Bryant? Well, Dabo Swinney has some bad news for you.
Swinney said he expects Bryant to be ready to play on Friday night at Syracuse. That would be an encouraging tidbit considering Bryant had to leave Saturday’s game with an ankle injury. Clemson is playing it safe with their starting quarterback as he recovers from the injury, but Swinney suggested his plan is to have Bryant available for this week’s ACC road game up north.
“He came in a little sore but was actually moving around pretty good,” Swinney said, according to David Hale of ESPN.com. “I think he is going to be just fine. He’ll be limited today, but when we get going, I think he’ll practice. If he’s ready to play, he’s going to play. If not, we’ll play the next guy.”
Bryant left Saturday’s home game against Wake Forest with an injury that seemed to leave him a little gimpy. He did not return to the game and Clemson played the rest of the day with a few different backup options. On Saturday, Clemson gave both Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson some playing time, but Swinney did not suggest how he would go about the game if Bryant is unavailable.
Even if Bryant does have to miss this week’s game, the sentiment from Swinney seems to suggest Bryant will not be out of action for very long, and that would be key to Clemson and the program’s pursuit of another ACC title and berth in the College Football Playoff to defending their national championship reign. Clemson still has games to play against NC State and Florida State, so staying at full strength as much as possible is vital.
No. 2 Clemson (6-0, 4-0 ACC) kept the wins coming with a 28-14 victory in Death Valley over Wake Forest (4-2, 1-2 ACC), but the health of starting quarterback Kelly Bryant will be in the spotlight. Bryant came out of the game in the third quarter with an apparent lower-body injury that left him limping.
the hit that took Bryant out occured near the goal line, just before Clemson managed to push its lead to 21-0. Bryant remained on the field to finish the drive before being evaluated by trainers.
Zerrick Cooper was the first quarterback off the sideline to replace the injured Bryant (who had already completed 21-of-29 pass attempts for 200 yards and a score with one interception), and Hunter Johnson also got in the mix in backup duty. Johnson added a touchdown pass to help push the Clemson lead in the second half for a 28-0 lead. Clemson had score don their first two offensive possessions of the game in the first quarter, but the offense did enough to avoid a decent scare at home against Wake Fores, although Wake Forest scored a couple of touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
It was not a perfect day for Clemson, however. The Tigers lost the turnover battle with two giveaways to none, but the Tigers defense continued to lead the charge and avoided allowing Wake Forest many opportunities to do much of anything. Wake Forest was playing with backup quarterback Kendall Hinton as well, which didn’t help their cause much either.
Clemson heads up north to play Syracuse next week. For now, the Tigers are still sitting in a good spot for a second-half run to the ACC crown, although Clemson fans will keep a close eye on the status of Bryant moving forward.
Wake Forest will have next week off, which is needed after back-to-back losses against Florida State and Clemson. When they get back in action, they will be on the road against Georgia Tech, with Louisville looming after that.
Kelly Bryant broke himself in as the new starting quarterback quite well as No. 5 Clemson (1-0) opened up the new season with a dominating performance against Kent State (0-1). The defending champs took a 49-3 victory at home as Bryant took control filling the shoes of Deshaun Watson with 236 passing yards, one touchdown pass, 77 rushing yards and another score on the ground.
Clemson opened the season with 21 points in the first and third quarters, showing quick bursts at the start of each half. As expected in a blowout like this, there were many contributors to the Clemson offense today. Four different running backs scored a touchdown, with C.J. Fuller picking up two scores before getting the afternoon off. A total of 13 different Tigers recorded at least one reception in the game as well, with the bulk of those passes coming from Bryant (16-22-1 for 236 yards, 1 TD).
Clemson’s defense was also locked in, tying down Kent State for just 110 yards of offense and allowing just five first downs. Clemson out-gained the Golden Flashes by roughly 545 yards. It was just a total mismatch from start to finish, and it wasn’t just because Kent State was without their head coach. This was a battle between a program that has built a rock-solid foundation through top-shelf recruiting and player development and, well, Kent State.
Clemson will kick it up a notch next week in terms of difficulty. The Tigers welcome the Auburn Tigers to Death Valley for a fun ACC vs. SEC battle. Auburn is starting the season ranked No. 12 in the preseason AP poll and will be hosting Georgia Southern later tonight in their season opener. Clemson opened the 2016 season with a 19-13 victory at Auburn last season and will take a three-game winning streak in the series into next week’s game, with the first two games in that winning streak occurring in 2011 and 2012.
Kent State will look to put a win in the books next week at home against Howard.