The No. 2 Clemson Tigers continued to make a great case for the top ranking in college football with an impressive 31-17 victory over No. 12 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Saturday night.
That’s not to say that Dabo Swinney’s squad was perfect. The offense didn’t do much in the second half, scoring just once in the final 30 minutes. The Tigers also gave up a long punt return in the third quarter that allowed Virginia Tech to cut the lead to 14. And while the defense turned in an outstanding effort (more on that below), the Hokies actually outgained Clemson in this contest (342-332).
Even though the Tigers have a few things to work on at practice, this was still an impressive victory.
Don’t let the final margin fool you: this contest was over early in the first quarter. Clemson’s offense came out sharp, scoring on its first two possessions to take a 10-0 lead. However, with the way that the Tiger D was playing, it felt like the team had a 30-point cushion. Clemson’s defense dominated this contest from the opening whistle, forcing three straight three-and-outs to open the game, and allowing just one first down on Virginia Tech’s first five possessions. Although it would give up some yardage later in the game, the Tigers held the Hokies to just 4-for-15 on third down conversions and forced three turnovers, including a pick six by Dorian O’Daniel that ended any hope of a Virginia Tech comeback.
So, what does this victory mean in the grand scheme of things?
Simply put: it should be enough to vault the Tigers to the top spot of the rankings. After all, Saturday’s win over Virginia Tech was Clemson’s third victory over a top-15 team this season. While Alabama has some lopsided victories and Oklahoma defeated Ohio State, the fact of the matter is that neither team has a body of work that’s as impressive as Clemson’s is right now. If the rankings are a reflection of where teams are at this point in time, it’s difficult to envision anyone other than the Tigers at No. 1.