Third-ranked Clemson showed up to play after a three-week hiatus and rolled into the halftime break with a 38-10 lead over Pittsburgh.
The Tigers regained a couple of key pieces in the heart of the defense in James Skalski and Tyler Davis. However, they were depleted in the secondary with the absence of safeties Lannden Zanders and Jaylen Phillips as well as cornerback Sheridan Jones.
Onlookers would be hard pressed to notice the missing players as Clemson intercepted three Kenny Pickett passes in the first quarter.
Freshman Malcom Greene intercepted Pickett with 12:32 to play in the first quarter and returned the pass eight yards to the Pitt 16 and set up a touchdown pass from Trevor Lawrence to E.J. Williams that gave Clemson a 7-0 lead.
Two drives later, Andrew Booth Jr. intercepted Pickett at the Clemson 35 with 9:17 to play in the quarter. The Tigers scored three plays later on a 43-yard touchdown pass from Lawrence to Cornell Powell to give them a 17-0 advantage.
On the ensuing drive, Mario Goodrich intercepted Pickett at the Pitt 40 and returned the ball five yards to the 35 and set up another short field for the Clemson offense. Etienne punched it in after a five-play drive to give the Tigers a 24-0 advantage.
The Clemson defense certainly showed up ready to play in the first half as it held Pitt to 141 yards of total offense.
The Tigers hopes to continue the trend in the second half of play.
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