Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is between his sons wide receiver Will Swinney(22), left, and wide receiver Drew Swinney(81) and the team for the Walk of Champions before Clemson and Georgia played in the Duke's Mayo Classic Sep 4, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA;  at Bank of America Stadium.

Ncaa Football Georgia At Clemson

After disappointing opener, No. 6 Clemson takes on South Carolina St.

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

Jul 22, 2021; Charlotte, NC, USA;  Florida State Seminoles Coach Mike Norvell speaks to the media during the ACC Kickoff at The Westin Charlotte. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

FSU, Clemson refute reports regarding interest in joining SEC

After reports emerged that Florida State and Clemson had “reached out” to the Southeastern Conference about joining the league, FSU president John Thrasher issued a statement maintaining that such reports are “inaccurate.”

“I want to be clear that persistent reports that Florida State has been in contact with the Southeastern Conference are untrue,” Thrasher said in the statement issued Tuesday. “We have had no communication with the SEC or any representatives of the SEC.”

On Monday, a radio program director in the Clemson market reported that both schools were interested in joining the SEC, which recently agreed to add Big 12 programs Oklahoma and Texas in the coming years. Later in the day, The Athletic reported a Tigers’ spokesperson refuted the rumor, saying: “There is no truth to the report that Clemson University has been in contact with the Southeastern Conference regarding membership.”

Thrasher might have opened the door to the rumor in a recent interview with the Tallahassee Democrat when he stated that he wanted FSU to “be prepared” for the shifting landscape in college football.

“My point to (FSU director of athletics) David Coburn and to (new Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner) Jim Phillips is I don’t want Florida State to be left behind,” said Thrasher, who is set to retire this month after nearly seven years as Florida State’s president. “I consider us as part of the ACC, but I also know that we have a marquee name, Clemson has a marquee name. I think there might be people coming after us, I don’t know, but we’ve got to be prepared no matter what the options are.”

–Field Level Media

Clemson linebacker Justin Foster (35) stretches during practice in Tempe, Arizona Tuesday, December 24.

Clemson Vs Ohio State Fiesta Bowl Practice

Clemson’s Justin Foster (COVID-19) to return to team, after all

Buoyed by his doctor’s confidence that he would make a full recovery from COVID-19, Clemson star defensive end Justin Foster announced Wednesday he is ending his pandemic-induced retirement after only a few months.

Foster, who earned All-ACC honorable mention in 2019, his first season in a starting role, missed the 2020 season after battling the virus in June of that year and later dealing with complications known as long-haul syndrome. He has asthma and allergies, as well.

On Feb. 24, as Clemson’s spring practice was getting underway, he announced he wasn’t coming back for his final year of eligibility. He graduated in December.

His football outlook changed in the last few weeks thanks to medical update, he said in a statement released by the school.

“I went to Duke (Medical Center) a couple weeks ago, and the doctor was positive on me recovering in the near future. In the next month or two, she thought, I’d recover enough to compete at the college level. … She believed that I will be healthy and, for me, that was a big steppingstone,” Foster said.

In a conversation with Tigers coach Dabo Swinney, Foster acknowledged not being sure he could regain the form that saw him rack up seven sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss in his career.

“(Swinney) said if you’re feeling better, even if you’re not 100 percent, you can start working with the team and we’ll build you up from there. He said, ‘You don’t have to play 60 snaps a game; you’ll just do what you can do,’” Foster told ESPN.

Said Swinney, “It’s not often you get a call from a great player that you think is gone and he says he’s coming back. He’s a great leader with great experience and a really talented football player.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 13, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Taisun Phommachanh (11) in the College Football Playoff national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Torn Achilles likely for Clemson QB Taisun Phommachanh

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said sophomore quarterback Taisun Phommachanh likely tore his Achilles tendon during Saturday’s spring game.

“Really tough, tough break for Taisun,” Swinney said.

Phommachanh was directing the Tigers’ White team late in the fourth quarter when he went down with the injury.

“It looks like he has probably torn his Achilles,” Swinney told reporters. “To be honest with you, the majority of the ACLs and Achilles injuries that I have been around in my career have mostly been non-contact and that was the case with this one.”

Phommachanh is entering his third season at Clemson. He was expected to take over the backup quarterback role from D.J. Uiagalelei, who is replacing presumptive No. 1 overall 2021 NFL Draft pick Trevor Lawrence as the starter.

Phommachanh completed 14 of 25 passes for 163 yards with a touchdown and an interception on Saturday. He was sacked four times.

He appeared in seven games for Clemson during the 2019 and 2020 seasons, completing 11 of 29 passes for 73 yards and two interceptions and rushing 19 times for 81 yards.

–Field Level Media

Apr 14, 2018; Clemson, SC, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back C.J. Spiller during the Clemson Tigers Spring Game at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson promotes C.J. Spiller to assistant coach

After spending a season as an unpaid intern at Clemson, former Tigers running back C.J. Spiller has been hired as an assistant coach.

Spiller, who rushed for 3,547 yards and 32 touchdowns during his time with the Tigers (2006-09), will coach the running backs.

“To have C.J. out on the road recruiting and have him leading these young men day in and day out is something I’m really, really excited about, and I can’t wait to see him take the field this spring leading that group,” said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.

Spiller’s final season at Clemson overlapped with Swinney’s first full season at the helm.

“It doesn’t happen very often that you’re able to coach at your alma mater, especially in your first gig, and for me to have that opportunity, I don’t take it lightly,” said Spiller, 33. “I’m just ecstatic about getting started.”

The ninth overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Spiller rushed for 3,451 yards and 12 touchdowns in 90 games with the Buffalo Bills (2010-14), New Orleans Saints (2015), New York Jets (2016), Seattle Seahawks (2016) and Kansas City Chiefs (2017). He made the Pro Bowl after rushing for 1,244 yards in 2012.

Clemson also gave offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, 41, a pay raise from $1.6 million to $2 million with a contract extension that runs through January 2026. Elliott also had assistant head coach and tight ends coach added to his duties.

–Field Level Media

Jan 7, 2019; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Justyn Ross (8) celebrates with defensive lineman Christian Wilkins (42) and running back Travis Etienne (9) after scoring against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the third quarter during the 2019 College Football Playoff Championship game at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson’s Travis Etienne to enter draft; WR Justyn Ross to return

Clemson All-American running back Travis Etienne announced Friday that he will enter the 2021 NFL Draft.

He leaves Clemson as the program’s all-time leading scorer and the holder of the Atlantic Coast Conference record for career rushing yards. He also joined former Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne as the only player in FBS history to run for at least 13 touchdowns in four seasons.

A four-star recruit in the Class of 2017, Etienne had one year of eligibility remaining because of NCAA rules granting an extra year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My 4 years spent in South Carolina have been nothing short of spectacular,” Etienne posted on social media. “Who would have ever imagined a young kid from Jennings, LA would become a National Champion with the Clemson Tigers. My time here has allowed me to experience many accolates that some kids only dream of.”

In 55 games, Etienne rushed for 4,952 yards and caught 102 passes for another 1,155. He scored 78 touchdowns, and his career was highlighted by back-to-back 1,600-yard seasons in 2018 and ’19. He posted 24 rushing touchdowns in 2018 and 19 the following season, with both campaigns culminating in an appearance in the College Football Playoff championship game.

Despite Etienne’s expected departure, Clemson got good news when wide receiver Justyn Ross said he will return to the Tigers after a spinal condition sidelined him in 2020.

Ross underwent a congenital fusion procedure in June. After being injured in spring drills in March, diagnostic tests revealed the 6-foot-4 Ross had a bulging disk as well as the spinal fusion.

Before the surgery, Ross was projected as a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Ross caught 112 passes for 1,865 yards and 17 touchdowns in his first two college seasons while starting 14 of 29 games played.

He burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2018, catching 46 passes — nine for touchdowns — and leading the Tigers with 1,000 receiving yards.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2021; New Orleans, LA, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) stands in the pocket with the ball during the first half against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Fields fires 6 TD passes as Ohio State routs Clemson in semis

Justin Fields threw for 385 yards and six touchdowns as third-ranked Ohio State crushed second-ranked Clemson 49-28 on Friday in a College Football Playoff semifinal game at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

The Buckeyes (7-0) will play No. 1 Alabama in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Jan. 11 with a chance for their first national championship since the 2014-15 season.

Fields completed 22 of 28 passes with one interception and ran eight times for 42 yards to lead the Buckeyes, who amassed 639 total yards. Trey Sermon ran 31 times for 193 yards and Chris Olave made six catches for 132 yards and two TDs for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State reeled off 28 unanswered points to take a 35-14 halftime lead behind Fields’ exploits, and the Buckeyes successfully avenged a 29-23 loss to the Tigers in last year’s semifinals.

In the first half, Fields was 16 of 18 for 223 yards and four touchdowns and ran seven times for 50 yards to help the Buckeyes overcome 7-0 and 14-7 deficits.

Trevor Lawrence was 33 of 48 for 400 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for Clemson (10-2). The Tigers managed just 44 rushing yards on 22 carries.

Fields tossed an 8-yard pass to Luke Farrell, the senior tight end’s first career TD catch, to make it 14-14 late in the first quarter. Fields then hit Jeremy Ruckert on a 17-yard scoring play for a 21-14 lead at 10:35 of the second quarter and connected with Olave for a 9-yard touchdown to make it 28-14.

On the latter drive, Clemson linebacker James Skalski was ejected for targeting for his hit on Fields. The Ohio State quarterback left the game for one play before returning to throw his third TD pass. The fourth came with 11 seconds left in the half, 12 yards to Ruckert.

After Clemson pulled within 35-21 on a Cornell Powell TD reception early in the third quarter, Fields threw scoring strikes of 56 yards to Olave and 45 Jameson Williams to make it a 28-point game a minute into the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media

Dec 19, 2020; Charlotte, NC, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) warms up before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Sugar Bowl: Can Clemson crack Buckeyes in CFP semifinals again?

Old foes renew acquaintances on New Year’s Day when No. 2 seed Clemson faces No. 3 Ohio State for the third time in the past five semifinals.

The Tigers won the previous two, including last year, 29-23. Clemson also won 31-0 in 2017 and owns an all-time record of 4-0 against the Buckeyes.

The Tigers (10-1) defeated Notre Dame 34-10 on Saturday in the ACC title game to avenge their only loss. The Buckeyes (6-0), who had three games canceled (two by opponents) because of COVID-19 issues, downed Northwestern, 22-10, on Saturday to win the Big Ten championship.

Opening line: Clemson -6 ½

When and Where: Jan. 1, 8 p.m.; Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.

Why Clemson could win: The Tigers have made six straight appearances in the playoffs and ooze confidence and experience. Those attributes showed against Notre Dame when all facets of their game clicked. They totaled 541 yards (322 passing, 219 rushing) and averaged 8.2 yards per play while limiting Notre Dame to 263 yards (219, 44) on a 4.5 average.

While Clemson is sixth nationally in total defense (298.5 yards per game) the Tigers will be missing safety Nolan Turner for the first half because he was ejected for targeting in the second half against Notre Dame.

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the presumed top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, wants to go out in style with his second national title in three seasons.

Why Ohio State could Win: The Buckeyes may have found their running back to replace J.K. Dobbins, now with the Baltimore Ravens, who in last year’s game ran for 174 yards on 18 carries and a 68-yard touchdown. Oklahoma graduate transfer Trey Sermon set FBS conference championship game and Ohio State single-game rushing records with 331 yards against Northwestern. Ohio State is fifth nationally with 275.7 rushing yards per game.

If the Buckeyes can take care of business on the ground, it will make life easier for quarterback Justin Fields, who was picked off twice by Clemson last season.

Ohio State was driving for a late, potential winning score in the 2019 game when Fields was intercepted in the end zone. Other than Michigan (before the game was canceled), the Buckeyes have thought of no other team more than Clemson for a year.

Get To Know

Ohio State: DT Haskell Garrett is lucky to be alive, much less menacing quarterbacks. On Aug. 30, he was trying to break up an argument between two people he didn’t know when he was shot in the face. The bullet went through one cheek and out the other and he lost five teeth. On Dec. 5 against Michigan State, he tipped a pass in the end zone and caught it for a pick-six.

Clemson: A great quarterback needs a supporting cast and Travis Etienne has emerged at the right time. He had six straight games rushing for fewer than 100 yards but against Notre Dame he ran for 124 on 10 carries (12.4) with a 44-yard touchdown. This season he has 882 yards (5.6 average) and 13 TDs.

Our prediction: Clemson, 38-33

–Field Level Media