In the days leading up to their game against No. 1 Clemson, Texas A&M players expressed a level of confidence on what they were going to do the Tigers when they came to Death Valley on Saturday.
Left guard Jared Hocker even said “there will be an upset” in Saturday’s clash of top 12 teams. Wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon said he has not even thought about losing a game this year and “we are not coming out with a loss in the game.”
The Aggies’ words were strong. However, their actions were weak.
The Tigers dominated the 12th-ranked Aggies in every facet on Saturday as they rolled to a 24-10 victory on a hot and humid day at Death Valley.
The win over the Aggies was Clemson’s ninth straight regular season win over an SEC team. The Tigers’ average margin of victory in those nine wins is 16.3 points. Saturday’s game against A&M was not as close as the score indicated, as the Aggies scored a meaningless touchdown with 6 seconds to play.
“Yeah, when they call you out, it just gives you a little extra edge,” Clemson safety Tanner Muse said afterward. “You don’t hear of any of our guys doing that, but at the end of the day, their opinion is there opinion and all you can do is prove it on Saturdays.
“It doesn’t really matter what the talk is during the week. We got to go to work and be the best version of us.”
The Tigers (2-0) went to work all right. While Trevor Lawrence and the offense were doing their thing, the defense was controlling things on the other side of the ball.
Clemson held A&M (1-1) to 289 total yards, including just 53 yards rushing. The Aggies averaged just 1.96 yards per carry.
“We just focused on ourselves and we focused on what we can do and what we can control and just got out there and played,” defensive end Xavier Thomas said.
Overall, the Tigers have won four straight games against SEC competition, including last year’s 28-point win over No. 2 Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
A&M and Alabama are from the SEC West, which is considered the best division among the Power 5 Conferences. The Tigers have won three straight games against them by an average margin of 14.7 points per game.
Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross said the Aggies’ barking prior to the game motivated the Tigers to prove once again they own the SEC right now. In the College Football Playoff era, which began in 2014, Clemson is 11-3 vs. the SEC, including games in the College Football Playoff.
“Of course we knew about (what A&M was saying),” Ross said. “It was a lot of motivation because just knowing that they were that confident, it motivated us to go out there and play even harder.”
Ausbon even said the Aggies would not be intimidated by Death Valley because they play at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas, so the noise would not bother them. A&M was called for three procedure penalties and one delay of game on Saturday.
Thomas said the noise level by the 81,500 fans at Death Valley played a major role in why A&M’s offense struggled.
“The crowd was definitely a factor in the game,” he said. “They had a lot of false starts, so the crowd was definitely a factor and we love our fans. We have the best fans in the country.”
And the Clemson fans have the team that owns the SEC.
We are pleased to announce a new partnership with Fanatics. This is great news for Tiger fans as they have the officially licensed Clemson gear.
The Clemson Insider will get a portion of all sales so get ready for another championship season by ordering your Clemson gear today and help support TCI.