Top-ranked Clemson’s defense showed up big in a big-time showdown Saturday night against No. 7 Miami at Death Valley.
Brent Venables’ unit bottled up Hurricanes quarterback D’Eriq King for most of the contest, and the Tigers stifled Miami’s offense to the tune of just 210 total yards and nine first downs allowed while forcing three turnovers and helping Clemson to a convincing 42-17 victory.
Miami entered the game averaging 499 yards of total offense, good for 12th-best in the country, and ranked eighth nationally in scoring at 43.3 points per game.
Venables mixed things up from a scheme standpoint, deploying a defense featuring three down linemen, two linebackers and six defensive backs including an extra safety, and was very aggressive as a player-caller, dialing up blitzes early and often from all different angles.
Clemson consistently pressured King and never let him get into a rhythm while picking him off a couple of times. Led by linebacker Baylon Spector’s 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss, the Tigers posted five sacks and 11 tackles for loss overall.
Entering the game with a 67-percent completion percentage, 736 yards passing and six touchdowns with no interceptions through Miami’s first three games, King went just 12-of-28 passing for 121 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions.
King did rush for 84 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, though 56 of those rushing yards came on one play late in the second quarter that set up a 42-yard field goal from Jose Borregales with 3:53 left in the half. King scored his lone touchdown of the night on a 7-yard run in garbage time with his team down by four scores midway through the final period.
There was a lot of talk coming into the contest about how “The U” was back after years of struggles, but on Saturday night, it was the Tigers who put the rest of the ACC and college football on notice that they are back once again as a national title contender and still the cream of the crop in their conference.
The season is still young, but as it continues to thrash the competition, Clemson looks like a team on track for its sixth straight ACC Championship and sixth consecutive appearance in the College Football Playoff.
Another championship season is underway for the Tigers. It’s time to gear up for another year of Clemson football.
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