DEFENSE HELPS CLEMSON WITH PLAYOFF BID

By Maura Sheridan

Week five of college football saw a lot of top teams fall. Ole Miss, Georgia, Notre Dame, and Miami all lost to lower ranked (or unranked) opponents. With many top ranked teams kissing their playoff hopes goodbye, the Clemson Tigers did just the opposite.   Taking on a the previous 6th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Tigers

Swinney claimed the motto for Saturday’s battle in Death Valley was BYOG, Bring Your Own Guts. The Tigers sure needed guts, as they tried to hold off a formerly undefeated Brian Kelley coached team.

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Clemson’s defense looked extremely dangerous, one could even argue they are best in the nation right now. With the loss of six defensive starters, including ACC Defensive Player of the Year Vic Beasley, the success of the Tigers defense has been unexpected. Led by players like cornerback Makensie Alexander, Clemson forced four turnovers and held Notre Dame’s tailback C.J Prosise to 50 yards. Alexander also single handedly shut out potential NFL first-rounder Will Fuller, who had just two catches in the game.

The defense had the opportunity to show the guts they brought in the final seven seconds of the game. Notre Dame went for a game-tying two point conversion, but Carlos Watkins stuffed Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer. That solidified the upset,and also cemented the continuation of an unbeaten record for Clemson.

Although Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venable’s defense shined, the offense put up a pretty decent performance. Quarterback DeShaun Watson threw two TD’s and ran a third one in. With the defense playing like they did Saturday, Watson and company’s job gets a little bit easier.

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The latest AP Poll has Clemson taking over for Notre Dame as the 6th ranked team in the country. With a long season of ACC opponents still ahead of them, Alexander, Watson and the rest of the squad still need to work for every game if they want to remain undefeated. Even with Georgia Tech slumping, next week’s battle against the Yellow Jackets will be a big test. After an exciting win this game has the potential to be a let down game. They take on Miami and Syracuse in two potentially difficult away games. Florida State at home will pose another test.   Still, all of these teams don’t pose much of a threat to the Clemson team that showed up Saturday. As long as every game is a BYOG game, Clemson has a very real shot of being the ACC’s long representative in the College Football Playoffs.

All statistics courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise noted.

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