Nov 26, 2022; Clemson, SC, USA;  Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei (5) passes against South Carolina during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022.    Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

No. 9 Clemson, No. 23 UNC stumble into ACC title game

Momentum is getting a week off as both No. 9 Clemson and No. 23 North Carolina will meet in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game Saturday night at Charlotte, N.C., coming off losses.

Clemson (10-2, 8-0 ACC) dropped a 31-30 decision to in-state rival South Carolina last week, falling to the Gamecocks for the first time since 2013. It was the first time a South Carolina coach not named Steve Spurrier had beaten Clemson since 2001.

North Carolina (9-3, 6-2) saw its longshot hopes of making the College Football Playoff vanish in recent weeks as it lost back-to-back home games to Georgia Tech and NC State. The Tar Heels’ 30-27 loss to the Wolfpack on Saturday came in double overtime.

“I’m not going to sit around and feel bad. I’m not going to feel embarrassed for nine wins,” North Carolina coach Mack Brown said. “I’ll give two teams credit that beat us at home at the end, which I’m disappointed in. But when your team plays as hard as they can play, that’s all you can ask them to do.”

Clemson is out of the CFP with its two losses, but don’t tell that to Tigers coach Dabo Swinney.

“The reality is we’re a 10-2 football team playing for our league title and one of the most consistent teams in the country,” Swinney said on his radio show. “Nobody’s got their head in the sand. We’ve got to get better in a lot of areas, but we know that.”

While it is expected to be the second straight season that the ACC is excluded from the CFP, Saturday’s championship game still has significance. Each team still has bowl committees to impress in the last ACC title game that will pit winners of its Coastal and Atlantic divisions.

Like several other conferences, the ACC is ditching its divisions for the foreseeable future.

Clemson won the Atlantic and is playing in the ACC title game for the ninth time under Swinney. North Carolina is playing in the conference championship game for just the second time ever.

The Tar Heels last went to Charlotte as Coastal Division champs in 2015 under the direction of former coach Larry Fedora, where they lost to Clemson 45-37. That was the start of six straight conference championship wins for the Tigers.

“Clemson has all of this down,” Brown said. “We don’t.”

North Carolina is led by its high-powered offense. The orchestrator of that attack is quarterback Drake Maye, who is a longshot Heisman Trophy contender. Maye leads all of FBS in total offense (4,476 yards) and is fourth in yards passing (3,847) and tied for fourth in passing touchdowns (35).

Maye’s passing efficiency rating of 165.15 is 10th-best in the country. Maye has also rushed for a team-best 629 yards and six touchdowns on 161 carries.

“He’s a very good player. That’s why we recruited him. He’s a winner,” Swinney said of Maye. “He’s very accurate. He puts the ball where the guys have a chance to make a play, and just really impressive.”

Clemson’s quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei has started all 12 games this season but has been replaced a handful of times mid-game by freshman Cade Klubnik. Uiagalelei has completed 62.2 percent of his passes this season for 2,511 yards and 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

The numbers are an improvement from last season, when Uiagalelei threw just nine touchdown passes to 10 interceptions.

UNC is monitoring defensive backs with injuries this week: Storm Duck (upper body), Tony Grimes (lower body) and Cam’Ron Kelly (lower body).

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2022; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, left, and South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer talk before the game at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C. Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022.    Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina halts No. 8 Clemson’s home win streak at 40

Spencer Rattler threw two touchdown passes to Antwane Wells Jr. and South Carolina’s defense had a tremendous second half as the Gamecocks knocked off No. 8 Clemson 31-30 on Saturday afternoon at Clemson, S.C.

A 40-game home-field winning streak came to a halt for the Tigers (10-2, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who also no longer have a shot to make the College Football Playoff field.

Rattler was 25-for-39 for 360 yards with two interceptions, while Wells finished with 131 receiving yards on nine catches. The Gamecocks managed only 54 rushing yards.

D.J. Uiagalelei ran for a touchdown and threw for one, Will Shipley ran for a touchdown and Jeremiah Trotter Jr. returned an interception for a touchdown for Clemson’s big moments.

South Carolina (8-4, 3-2), which conquered another Top 10 team after its 63-38 shocker of Tennessee a week earlier, snapped a seven-game losing streak in the series with Clemson.

The Tigers face North Carolina next Saturday night in the ACC championship game in Charlotte, N.C.

South Carolina took its first lead on Mitch Jeter’s 35-yard field goal with 10:54 remaining, completing a 10-play possession that lasted nearly 6 1/2 minutes. Clemson punted on its next three possessions.

Then the Gamecocks were forced to punt with about two minutes left after Clemson used a pair of timeouts. The Tigers fumbled on the punt return and never got the ball back.

Uiagalelei was 8-for-29 for 99 passing yards with an interception. Shipley gained 132 yards on 15 rushing attempts.

The Gamecocks stayed within range throughout the game. They scored first in the second half Jaheim’s 2-yard run to close within 23-21. Shipley’s 11-yard run later in the third quarter was matched on Rattler’s 72-yard pass play to Wells just 50 seconds later.

Clemson led 14-0 and 16-7. By then, nine of the points resulted from defense. Trotter returned a Rattler interception 35 yards for the game’s first points. In the second quarter, a safety increased the margin.

–Field Level Media

Oct 10, 2020; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney reacts during the third quarter against the Miami Hurricanes  at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

No. 9 Clemson scores early, often in easy win over Miami

DJ Uiagalelei passed for 227 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a game- and career-high 89 yards and a score as Clemson jumped on Miami early and cruised to a 40-10 victory in an Atlantic Coast Conference clash Saturday in Clemson, S.C.

The win gave the No. 9 Tigers (10-1, 8-0 ACC) their 12th consecutive season with at least 10 victories as well as extending their home-field winning streak to an ACC-record 40 consecutive games. It is the ninth time in the program’s history the Tigers have finished undefeated in ACC play.

They end their regular season next Saturday with a nonconference matchup against South Carolina and will play North Carolina in the ACC championship game on Dec. 3.

The Hurricanes (5-6, 3-4 ACC) now need to win their finale at home against Pittsburgh to reach bowl eligibility.

The Tigers held the Hurricanes to 98 yards in total offense with only 30 coming on the ground, both season lows.

Freshman Jacurri Brown, who engineered Miami’s previous week’s 35-14 win over Georgia Tech, struggled in his second start, going just 6-of-13 passing for 53 yards while rushing for just 22 more yards.

Jake Garcia started the fourth quarter and threw a 1-yard pass to Kahlil Brantley for Miami’s only touchdown after Jordan Miller’s 26-yard return of Uiagalelei’s fumble set up the Hurricanes at Clemson’s 10-yard line.

Uiagalelei was 14-of-19 passing for 128 yards in the first half and finished the game 22 of 34 with an interception. The Tigers had only scored a safety in the second half until Will Shipley’s 3-yard touchdown run with 4:40 remaining. Kobe Pace also scored from 1 yard out with 16 seconds left following Trenton Simpson’s strip sack of Garcia at Miami’s 36-yard line.

The Tigers established their defensive dominance early. They held the Hurricanes without a first down in the first quarter and to only 8 yards in total offense for the first half.

Clemson scored touchdowns of three of its first four possessions to put the Hurricanes in an unsurmountable hole. TheTigers finished with 447 total yards with 207 rushing.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson safety Jalyn Phillips (25) celebrates a fumble recovery defensive tackle Ruke Orhorhoro (33)  playing Louisville during the third quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022.     Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

DJ Uiagalelei powers No. 10 Clemson past Louisville

DJ Uiagalelei threw for a touchdown and ran for another to help No. 10 Clemson record a 31-16 victory over visiting Louisville on Saturday.

The Tigers (9-1, 7-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their 39th consecutive game at home and locked up a spot in the ACC championship game.

Uiagalelei completed 19 of 27 passes for 185 yards and connected with Antonio Williams for his lone touchdown strike in the second quarter. Williams caught 10 passes for 83 yards.

Phil Mafah rushed for 106 yards on 10 carries and Will Shipley Jr. had 97 yards on 19 totes for Clemson.

Louisville (6-3, 3-3 ACC) had its four-game winning streak snapped.

But that loss didn’t hurt as much as the one the Cardinals endured just before halftime when starting quarterback Malik Cunningham exited the game with an apparent shoulder injury.

Cunningham, who already entered Saturday’s game with an injured left hand, went down after a 26-yard run to end the first half. Cunningham suffered the hand injury last week in Louisville’s win over James Madison and had his hand taped up.

Brock Domann entered in the second half and completed 13 for 23 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown on the game’s final play to Braden Smith from 31 yards out. But Domann was intercepted once by Barrett Carter and could only muster one field goal drive before Clemson put it out of reach.

Louisville gained possession with just under four minutes left after a Shipley fumble but was stopped on downs.

Mafah put the game away with a 39-yard touchdown run with 2:13 to play in the fourth quarter.

Louisville kept itself in the game thanks to three Clemson fumbles but yielded 439 total yards to the Tigers offense.

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2022; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson wide receiver Joseph Ngata (10) gets tackled by Syracuse defensive back Isaiah Johnson (20) during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina on Saturday, October 22, 2022.   Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY NETWORK

No. 5 Clemson overcomes turnovers, slow start to edge No. 14 Syracuse

Will Shipley ran for 172 yards and two touchdowns Saturday as No. 5 Clemson rallied past No. 14 Syracuse for a 27-21 home win in ACC action.

Phil Mafah contributed 94 rushing yards and a score as Clemson (8-0, 6-0 ACC) won its 38th straight home game, setting a new ACC record, despite committing four turnovers and forcing only one — an interception by RJ Mickens with 15 seconds left to seal the win.

Tigers quarterbacks DJ Uigalelei and Cade Kubnik combined for just 157 passing yards and three turnovers (all by Uigalelei).

Garrett Shrader went 18 of 26 for 167 yards with a passing TD and a rushing score for Syracuse (6-1, 3-1), which squandered a 14-point, first-half lead in losing for the first time this season. The Orange only gave standout running back Sean Tucker five carries, which resulted in 54 yards.

Klubnik took over at quarterback for a struggling Uigalelei in the third quarter with his team trailing 21-10. The freshman guided a 15-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in Mafah’s 1-yard TD plunge on fourth-and-goal early in the fourth quarter.

The two-point conversion was no good.

The Orange committed two critical personal foul penalties on the drive and finished with 10 penalties for 88 yards on the day.

Syracuse went three-and-out on its next drive and Clemson quickly took the lead on Shipley’s 50-yard TD run. Klubnik improvised on the two-point conversion before finding Joseph Ngata to make it 24-21.

B.T. Potter tacked on a field goal with 1:33 remaining to make it 27-21.

The teams exchanged first-quarter touchdowns as Shipley plunged in from 1 yard out before Shrader found Tucker for a 12-yard TD to even the score.

The Orange took their first lead of the game with 9:14 left until halftime, as Ja’Had Carter scooped up a fumble by Uigalelei and ran 90 yards to the end zone. The Tigers were stuffed on fourth down on the ensuing possession, and Syracuse marched down the field with Shrader covering the final 7 yards on a scramble, giving the visitors a 21-7 advantage.

Potter’s 44-yard field goal in the waning seconds of the half made it 21-10.

–Field Level Media

Clemson Tigers wide receiver Antonio Williams (0) catches a pass from Clemson Tigers quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (5). The Clemson Tigers lead the Florida State Seminoles 24-14 at the half during an ACC game at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022.

Fsu V Clemson First303

No. 4 Clemson rides DJ Uiagalelei to win over Florida State

DJ Uiagalelei threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another as No. 4 Clemson beat host Florida State 34-28 in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday night.

Uiagalelei completed 15 of 23 passes for 203 yards and no interceptions for the Tigers (7-0, 5-0 ACC). He logged 14 carries for 26 yards.

Will Shipley paced Clemson’s rushing attack with 121 yards on 20 carries. He also had a 69-yard kick return and a team-high six catches for 48 yards.

Jordan Travis led Florida State (4-3, 2-3) with 254 passing yards and two touchdowns, in addition to 64 rushing yards and a touchdown. It was the third straight loss for the Seminoles, who lost despite outgaining the Tigers, 460-370.

The score was tied 14-14 before the game swung in Clemson’s favor in the final two minutes before halftime.

The Tigers capped off a 12-play, 39-yard drive with a 47-yard field goal from BT Potter to take the lead, and they got the ball back after the Seminoles fumbled four plays later. Clemson then covered 42 yards in three plays with Shipley breaking off a 36-yard run before Uiagalelei found the end zone on a 5-yard scamper.

Clemson continued to pour it on in the third quarter. Uiagalelei found Davis Allen for a 31-yard touchdown strike on the Tigers’ first play of the half, and then Potter added another field goal — this time from 34 yards out — as the Tigers took a commanding 20-point lead.

Florida State scored twice in the fourth quarter, but never fully closed the gap in the waning minutes.

Clemson has now won seven straight against Florida State, a streak that dates back to 2015.

The Tigers will host the ACC’s only other undefeated team — No. 18 Syracuse — next Saturday. That game is set for a noon EST kickoff on ABC. The Orange beat N.C. State 24-9 at home on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2022; Clemson, South Carolina, USA;   Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei (5) celebrates a score with running back Phil Mafah (26) against  NC State on a one-yard touchdown run during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

No. 4 Clemson looks to extend Florida State’s slide

No. 4 Clemson will aim to keep its unbeaten record intact when it visits Florida State in Atlantic Coast Conference action on Saturday in Tallahassee, Fla.

The Seminoles (4-2, 2-2) suffered a second straight loss last week, blowing a 17-3 halftime lead in a 19-17 road loss at then-No. 14 NC State.

The Seminoles outgained the Wolfpack 387-307, but were hurt by two Jordan Travis interceptions — one of which came in the end zone with 38 seconds left.

Travis completed 15 of 30 passes for 181 yards and one touchdown. It was his second-lowest yardage total of the season and his first multi-interception game of the year, having thrown just one pick in his first five games.

Still, overall, Travis has had a solid season and is a big reason why Florida State started the year 4-0. According to Pro Football Focus, his offensive grade of 91.1 ranks fourth nationally among FBS quarterbacks.

“We (have) got to do a good job of understanding that it’s on all of us. We could’ve put (Travis) in a better situation,” FSU offensive coordinator Alex Atkins said. “Mistakes are going to happen.”

Florida State has to do a better job of limiting such mistakes, especially when it faces Clemson (6-0, 4-0). The Tigers lead the conference in takeaways and have the 26th-best scoring defense in the country, allowing just 18.3 points per game.

Clemson’s offense has been impressive, too. The Tigers have scored 30 points or more in each game this season and are averaging 39.3 per game.

The offensive attack has been powered by quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei and running back Will Shipley. Uiagalelei has completed 63.9 percent of his passes this season for 1,462 yards and 14 touchdowns to just two interceptions. Shipley has paced the ground game with 446 yards and eight scores on 76 carries.

Uiagalelei has also rushed for 311 yards and three scores. Clemson averages 4.6 yards per carry as a team, but coach Dabo Swinney thinks the run game can still improve.

“We can get a lot better. It’s making the right decisions in the run game. A lot of it will come on our quarterback, too,” Swinney said. “It’s about trusting things, pressing blocks, everything syncing up. Sometimes someone tries to do too much. It’s your tight ends, receivers doing a good job on the second and third level. It’s your RPOs off of it, your screen game, a lot going on. D.J. has been a huge factor for us.”

Swinney said that defensive tackle Bryan Bresee — the former No. 1 overall recruit in the country — is expected to play this week, while senior cornerback Sheridan Jones is day-to-day.

Florida State head coach Mike Norvell said this week that running back Treshaun Ward (collarbone) will not need surgery, but it’s unclear if he will play against the Tigers.

“(Ward) will do everything in his power to be available,” Norvell said. “But we will see as things play out throughout the week.”

Clemson is 14-20 all-time against Florida State but is currently riding a six-game winning streak in the series.

–Field Level Media