ORLANDO, Fla – Clemson (10-3) notched its 11th straight double-digit win season with a win over Iowa State (7-5) on Wednesday in the Cheez-It Bowl. Here are four sequences that went a long way in determining the outcome, a turning point and a telling stat from the Tigers’ 20-13 victory at Camping World Stadium.
- Clemson’s first offensive possession in more than a month ended in points when the Tigers took the opening kickoff and drove 69 yards on 15 plays, converting three third downs to get inside ISU’s 10-yard line before settling for B.T. Potter’s chip-shot field goal. ISU immediately answered with a field goal of its own and started its second possession at its own 38 early in the second quarter after forcing a three-and-out, but Andrew Mevis’ 43-yard field goal attempt missed the mark after the Cyclones moved into Clemson territory. The Tigers moved 41 yards on their next drive with some assistance from Greg Eisworth’s late hit on Will Swinney along the sideline that gave Clemson 15 penalty yards, and Potter banged home a season-long 51-yarder to give the Tigers a 6-3 lead with 4:07 left in the second quarter.
- Clemson’s defense got the ball back to the offense with 2 minutes left in the first half, and the Tigers began marching from their own 19. D.J. Uiagalelei kept the drive alive a couple of times, buying enough time to find Beaux Collins for 12 yards on third-and-7 out near midfield before checking his next third-down pass down to Kobe Pace for a 16-yard gainer down to ISU’s 31. The Tigers eventually moved into the red zone and spiked the ball on first down to preserve some clock as time ticked way. But Clemson halted its own momentum on its next two snaps, including a dropped pass by Collins on third down. Potter then missed a 36-yard field goal as time expired on the half to snap a string of 13 straight makes for the veteran kicker, and a promising drive turned hollow for the Tigers going into the break.
- Clemson forced a punt on ISU’s opening possession of the second half, and the Tigers’ offense again started marching with more key conversions. First, Uiagalelei got bailed out by Collins, who boxed out a pair of ISU defenders on a floater for a 11-yard catch on third-and-4 out near midfield . Six plays later, with Clemson facing fourth-and-1 from inside the Cyclones’ 30, Uiagalelei was initially stacked up on a designed run but powered his way forward for just enough yardage for a fresh set of downs. Uiagalelei then kept for 7 yards on third-and-short to move the Tigers to ISU’s 12 before Shipley took a delayed handoff on the next play and bounced it outside untouched to the end zone, giving Clemson a 13-3 with less than 5 minutes left in the third quarter.
- Clemson didn’t need much time to further take control in unusual fashion. ISU got out of the shadow of its own end zone when quarterback Brock Purdy started the Cyclones’ next possession with a 10-yard completion to Darren Wilson, but Purdy’s next pass was batted high in the air by defensive end Justin Mascoll. Purdy tried to knock the ball to the ground, but he tipped it instead into the waiting hands of Mario Goodrich. Clemson’s senior cornerback cut across the field to return the interception 18 yards for the Tigers’ second touchdown in a span of 53 seconds. But a tipped pass on Clemson’s ensuing possession turned into an interception for ISU, which scored 10 straight points after that to get back in the game.
ISU had one last shot to send the game to overtime, taking over possession with a little more than 2 minutes left deep in its own territory. The Cyclones moved the ball out near midfield, where they faced fourth-and-2 in the final minute. Purdy escaped the pocket and scrambled beyond the line to gain, but Goodrich punched the ball from his grasp. The ball bounced backward and was short of the line to gain once Purdy recovered his own fumble, turning the ball over to the Tigers on downs with less than 30 seconds left.
Telling stat: 0
That how many points ISU scored on its final two possessions after spending some of the third quarter and most of the fourth cutting into a 17-point deficit. In Wesley Goodwin’s first game as defensive coordinator, Clemson allowed just one offensive touchdown.
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