January 31, 2023

Raven Tribune

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The CFP in Clemson hopes the Tigers will crash as the Tigers fall in South Carolina

The CFP in Clemson hopes the Tigers will crash as the Tigers fall in South Carolina

Clemson snapped its leading 40-game winning streak at home on Saturday, losing to rival South Carolina 31-30 in a error-filled performance that effectively eliminates the Tigers from College Football Playoff competition for the second straight season.

The home winning streak was an ACC record, and the longest since Nebraska won 47 in a row from 1991-1997. Equally amazing was the way Clemson blew a 23-14 halftime lead.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Clemson was 60-0 at home under Dabo Sweeney when it led by nine or more points in the first half.

Meanwhile, South Carolina has knocked out back-to-back opponents — it defeated Tennessee last week and now Clemson — its first victory in the rivalry game since 2013.

Clemson coach Dabo Sweeney said South Carolina “managed to win.”

“Today wasn’t just our day. It was theirs,” Sweeney said. “This is football. You have to take the good with the bad. It’s an incredibly disappointing day but we’ve won seven in a row. You can’t lose sight of that. We’ve lost two games at home since Florida State in 2013. So it’s a bad day, but we’ll show up again.” Monday and we keep moving forward.”

The No. 8 Tigers entered the game with an outside opportunity to make the playoffs, but the truth is, this team has hardly looked like a playoff contender all season. Once again, quarterback DJ Uiagalelei struggled, going 8 of 29 for 99 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception as South Carolina pestered him all game. The only thing Clemson was doing on offense was running back Will Shipley, who ran for 132 yards and a score.

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But as the game trailed, South Carolina managed to pin Clemson deep several times and Uiagalelei failed to make many offenses.

Clemson had another chance to win the ball back late on, but Antonio Williams missed his own kick with 2:05 left. South Carolina recovered and held on to win. Clemson managed a total of 86 yards in the second half.

The Tigers had three turnovers in total and allowed South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler to make several big plays in the passing game throughout. Rattler threw for 360 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

“We’ve had a lot more good days than bad,” Sweeney said. “We don’t get to always get our way.”

Unlike other games this season when Uiagalelei struggled, Swinney chose to stick with him and not turn to backup Cade Klubnik.

Clemson’s offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter said there has never been a strong consideration for quarterbacks in a game.

Sweeney noted that field position and other errors worked against Uiagalelei. The Tigers had three points in the game, the second most in a game this year.

“Two bad decisions, a couple missed shots. That’s what football is,” Sweeney said. “When you get a rhythm it’s really good, and sometimes it’s a hard skating when the tap isn’t for you.”

When asked if there would be an open quarterback competition heading into the ACC Championship Game, Swinney said he wouldn’t enter it.

Swinney must now find a way to get his team focused on what’s ahead: the ACC Championship game against North Carolina on Saturday. This is the first time since 2012 that both teams have entered the championship game without a loss, which takes some of the sparkle out of this matchup.

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Clemson didn’t win an ACC title last year, so the Tigers will have a chance at a title. Although he has defended Uiagalelei every time, there will be legitimate questions he must answer about his quarterback status going forward.

“We’re 10-2. We’re not 2-10. It’s a tough day, it hurts,” Sweeney said. “We all know how important this game is, but it’s absolutely our responsibility to help them move on, pick them up, get some wind back in their sails. It’s always about what’s next. A lot of people, their season is over but for us, we have a championship game this week and a chance to be At the helm of the ACC, that’s always been a goal for us.”