The No. 7 Clemson Tigers reminded the college football world that they’re still a threat to win the national championship by defeating Georgia Tech, 24-10, on Saturday night.
This was a huge win for Dabo Swinney’s squad. Sure, the Yellow Jackets entered the game with two losses, but they were literally one stop away from winning both of those contests. The fact is that Georgia Tech has done a great job on both sides of the ball the season, ranking in the top-20 in total defense (20th), third-down conversion defense (5th), and of course, rushing offense (2nd).
None of those numbers mattered on Saturday night. Clemson took control of the game right away, forcing a Georgia Tech fumble on the fourth play from scrimmage, and turning it into seven points two plays later. The Tiger defense would take over from there, forcing the Yellow Jackets into three-and-outs on five of the next six series, helping the team take an insurmountable 21-3 lead in the second quarter. The Clemson pass rush was especially dominant, recording four sacks (on just 17 attempts), and forcing TaQuon Marshall to rush his throw on a number of other occasions.
While the defense will get most of the credit for this “W,” it’s hard not to be impressed with the Tigers offense. Despite the poor weather conditions, Clemson racked up 428 yards, becoming only the second team to crack the 400-yard barrier against the Jackets this season (the other was Miami). Kelly Bryant turned in another monster performance, completing 23 of 33 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns, while adding another 67 yards on the ground. The four-headed monster of Adam Choice, C.J. Fuller, Travis Etienne, and Tavien Feaster was equally impressive, combining to run 30 times for 182 yards (6.0 ypc).
That average is a full two yards more than what Georgia Tech’s run defense has allowed this season.
Clemson’s solid victory over the Yellow Jackets proves that the team is still very much alive in the College Football Playoff race. In fact, with Penn State and TCU losing on Saturday, the Tigers now control their own destiny. Should Clemson win out, it would own victories over Auburn, Virginia Tech, NC State, South Carolina, and possibly Miami (if it beats Virginia Tech on 11/4). Considering that many of the teams currently in the top 10 will play each other in the final few weeks of the season, it’s hard to foresee any scenario in which a 12-1 Tiger team would miss the field.