After struggling to find any semblance of offensive rhythm in a 10-3 loss to Georgia in its season opener last week, No. 6 Clemson will look to get on track against South Carolina State on Saturday at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium.
The Tigers will look to improve to 36-0 against Football Championship Subdivision teams since the NCAA formed the division in 1978.
Clemson (0-1, 0-0 ACC) is 4-0 against the in-state Bulldogs and has outscored S.C. State 238-20 in those four games.
South Carolina State coach Buddy Pough just wishes Clemson had beaten Georgia on Saturday night.
“We’ve got a chance to get a Tiger by the tail,” Pough said. “They say if your dog chases a car and he messes around and catches it, he doesn’t know what to do. What happens if you catch a Tiger? Especially one that’s been riled up by another Bulldog a week or so before. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
South Carolina State (0-1, 0-1 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) is coming off a close loss of its own — a 42-41 defeat at the hands of Alabama A&M.
Corey Fields Jr., a redshirt sophomore quarterback, passed for 213 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 89 yards and another score for S.C. State. Redshirt freshman Kendrell Flowers, a transfer from Wake Forest, had 80 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns.
“They’re coming off an explosive game,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “Their quarterback is very athletic, he’s fast and he’s going to be a great challenge for us to handle.
“And I think 74 of their 79 guys are from South Carolina, so they’ll be excited to play us.”
Clemson’s offensive line struggled to create holes against Georgia’s defensive front and the Tigers managed only two yards rushing — the fourth-lowest total in program history. Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei was sacked seven times.
“We’ve certainly got a lot to learn from that game and a lot to improve on, especially offensively,” Swinney said. “But we will, because we have a team that cares. We’ve still got a chance to be one of the better teams we’ve had around here.”
Clemson’s defense, meanwhile, was in midseason form, as might be expected from a unit that returned nine starters. The Tigers held Georgia to 256 total yards and only three offensive points; Georgia’s winning points came on an interception return for a touchdown.
“Clemson’s defense is real, real good,” Pough said. “Their two-deep is as good as any two-deep anywhere. … They can beat you up and what they do is keep each other fresh while they’re doing it.”
Clemson enters Saturday’s game having won a school-record 28 consecutive home games, which is the nation’s longest active streak. Of the 135 players on Clemson’s 2021 roster, 130 have never experienced a home defeat in their Clemson careers.
The Tigers, who are seeking a seventh consecutive ACC championship, are 47-1 at home in the College Football Playoff era.
“You’re talking about a situation that’s volatile at best,” Pough said. “It concerns you. I would have really liked for them to have won last Saturday.”
–Field Level Media