Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney speaks in the Smart Family Media Center at the Smart Family Media Center at the Poe Indoor Practice Facility in Clemson, S.C. Tuesday, Nov 21, 2023.

No. 24 Clemson vies for supremacy vs. rival in Palmetto Bowl

This season has not lived up to the lofty standards of No. 24 Clemson, but coach Dabo Swinney and his Tigers have a chance to settle a score when they visit South Carolina on Saturday night in Columbia, S.C.

Clemson (7-4) resides in seventh place with a 4-4 record in Atlantic Coast Conference play. The four-loss season is the Tigers’ first since 2011.

Within that span are a pair of national titles in 2016 and 2018, both over Alabama. The Tigers are 28-10 across the past three seasons.

However, they have had good luck in the state capital against their Palmetto Bowl rival.

Swinney’s team has won four straight on the road there, but South Carolina is 5-1 at home this season.

“Obviously it’s one of the best atmospheres in college football,” Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik said. “They’ve got great fans. Excited to get down there. We love playing on the road, so it’s going to be a fun game, for sure, and a lot of energy and super cool.”

In a season in which the Tigers did not even approach making the ACC Championship game, state bragging rights mean more than ever.

A Birmingham (Ala.) native who played for the Crimson Tide, Swinney understands the rivalry’s intensity.

“What makes it unique is the same thing that makes Alabama-Auburn unique and that is, there’s no pro sports in this state,” Swinney said. “You’re not going to be able to live in (South Carolina) long without going, ‘OK, what’s going on around here? These people are crazy.’”

Former President Donald Trump will attend the game, but Swinney was non-committal in his feelings about the appearance.

“I don’t care who comes to the game,” Swinney said during his Tuesday press conference. “I just care about who’s playing in the game. Unless (Gamecocks coach Shane Beamer) is going to put him in and throw him a halfback pass or something.”

South Carolina (5-6) won 31-30 last year in Clemson, but the Tigers were triumphant in seven straight meetings before that and lead the all-time series 72-43-4.

Beamer’s Gamecocks are coming off their best win of the season, a 17-14 rally at home over Kentucky.

The Wildcats (6-5) were 5-0 and ranked No. 20 before a loss at top-ranked Georgia sent their campaign into a tailspin.

Last Saturday, Spencer Rattler went 19-for-27 for 207 yards and two scores. Xavier Legette had six catches for 94 yards and both touchdowns.

That connection was critical down the stretch as the duo kept a drive alive with a third-and-15 completion. Legette’s second TD catch was the game-winner — a 17-yarder with 7:44 remaining and his team trailing 14-10.

Now it’s time for Saturday’s game with bowl eligibility on the line.

“It’s been an emotional year. It’s been a tough year in a lot of ways,” Beamer said. “We’ve had three good Saturdays in a row and then it’s rivalry week. … There’s the bowl game part of it.”

Beamer also said his team’s good health included star receiver Antwane “Juice” Wells, who practiced last week and could play Saturday. He has been sidelined since Week 3 of the season due to a lower-body injury.

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers receiver Tyler Brown (6) catches a pass for a touchdown against Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defensive back Jayloh King (14) during the second quarter  at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Cade Klubnik leads Clemson to decisive win over Ga. Tech

Cade Klubnik went 23-of-34 passing for 205 yards and threw touchdowns to four different pass-catchers as Clemson rolled to a 42-21 Atlantic Coast Conference home win over Georgia Tech, Saturday in Clemson, South Carolina.

The Tigers (6-4, 3-4 ACC) gave up a Georgia Tech touchdown in the first quarter after a fake-punt attempt deep in their own territory. After the four-yard Haynes King rush capped the Yellow Jackets’ 25-yard drive, it was all Clemson.

Klubnik threw his first scoring strike to Beaux Collins from five yards out at the end of an 18-play, 75-yard drive that consumed nearly 10 minutes of game time.

Clemson’s next two touchdown drives before halftime combined to take fewer plays and less time: eight and 3:12, ending in a three-yard Klubnik pass to Tyler Brown; and nine in 4:10, though covering 92 yards.

Will Shipley’s 32-yard scoring run sent the Tigers into halftime up 21-7. Shipley carried 11 times for 77 yards, supplementing Phil Mafah’s game-high 96 yards on 17 carries.

The Tigers poured on another 21 points in the second half before Georgia Tech scored again.

The Yellow Jackets (5-5, 4-3) scored on King’s 32-yard touchdown pass to Dontae Smith and a four-yard toss to Dylan Leonard, both in the fourth quarter.

The scoring throws on a 13-of-31, 129-yard day came after King threw four interceptions. The last of those capped Clemson’s 42 unanswered-point deluge, with Shelton Lewis returning a pick of King 46 yards for a Tigers touchdown.

Khalil Barnes, Avieon Terrell and Kylon Griffin all intercepted passes for the Tigers.

Clemson’s other second-half scores came on a five-yard Klubnik touchdown pass to Jake Briningstool, and a 13-yard connection from Klubnik to Josh Sapp.

Sapp caught two passes for 17 yards. Briningstool had four receptions for 27 yards, Brown caught seven passes for 41 yards and Collins led the Tigers with 65 yards on five catches.

Jamal Haynes ran for a game-high 104 yards on 15 carries in the loss.

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2023; Clemson, South Carolina; Clemson linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. (54) tackles Florida Atlantic running back Zuberi Mobley (2) the third quarter with Florida Atlantic at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY NETWORK

Georgia Tech and Clemson seeking bowl eligibility

Bowl eligibility is at stake as Clemson hosts Georgia Tech in an Atlantic Coast Conference game Saturday in South Carolina.

Both teams are coming off their fifth victories of the season as Clemson (5-4, 2-4) notched an upset of Notre Dame while Georgia Tech (5-4, 4-2) soundly beat Virginia.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Yellow Jackets are still in the hunt for a berth in the ACC championship game, as they are in third place in the conference, just one loss behind second-place Louisville.

Saturday will mark the second of three straight home games for the Tigers in Clemson, S.C. Last week, the Tigers were powered by running back Phil Mafah, who ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-23 win over the then-No. 15 Irish.

Clemson’s defense shined, too, picking off Notre Dame’s Sam Hartman twice. One of those interceptions was returned for a touchdown by Jeremiah Trotter Jr., who was named a semifinalist this week for the Butkus Award, presented annually to the nation’s top linebacker.

“We made plays all around and created havoc,” Trotter said. “I am really glad we were able to do that. I am really proud of my guys.”

While Mafah had a standout game, Clemson could get running back Will Shipley (concussion) back in the lineup this week. Offensive coordinator Garrett Riley said coaches will manage Shipley’s carries if he returns against Georgia Tech.

“You got to do a good job of kind of charting the touches and the amount of plays that they have,” Riley said.

Georgia Tech has won three of its last four games and totaled 514 yards of offense in a 45-17 victory over Virginia last week. Yellow Jackets quarterback Haynes King had 291 yards of total offense, rushing for two scores and throwing for one touchdown.

“We’ve got to stay with our foot on the gas and continue to get better every week,” Georgia Tech coach Brent Key said. “We got a tough stretch of the season — we really do.”

Clemson has an eight-game winning streak against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have not won at Clemson since 2008.

–Field Level Media

Nov 4, 2023; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers running back Phil Mafah (7) runs against Notre Dame Fighting Irish safety Adon Shuler (21) during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Phil Mafah leads Clemson past No. 15 Notre Dame

Phil Mafah rushed for a career-best 186 yards and scored two touchdowns as host Clemson upset visiting No. 15 Notre Dame 31-23 on Saturday in South Carolina.

Mafah got the start because Clemson (5-4) was playing without lead rusher Will Shipley, who was ruled out prior to the start of the game. Shipley, who averages 4.6 yards per carry and has scored five total touchdowns this season, had been in concussion protocol since the Tigers’ loss to North Carolina State last weekend.

The victory for Clemson gave coach Dabo Swinney his 166th win, moving him one win past Frank Howard and making him the winningest coach in program history.

Notre Dame (7-3) was led by Audric Estime’s 87 rushing yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. The defeat for the Irish means that quarterback Sam Hartman — who transferred in from Wake Forest — will finish his career 0-5 against the Tigers. Hartman threw a pair of interceptions and no touchdowns on a day where he completed just 13 of 30 passes for 146 yards. Hartman did rush for 68 yards and a touchdown.

It’s the first time since 2016 that Notre Dame has lost to multiple ACC teams in the same season.

Clemson jumped out to a 24-6 lead in the second quarter following a 9-yard touchdown pass from Cade Klubnik to Tyler Brown, and then a 28-yard pick-six for a score by linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr.

Notre Dame chipped away at the deficit in the third quarter as Estime and Hartman both rushed for touchdowns.

The Irish had a chance to drive for the game-tying score with 1:47 remaining after Mafah fumbled — which was Clemson’s 11th lost fumble of the season. But Notre Dame’s drive flamed out in six plays, with Hartman throwing four straight incompletions.

Clemson’s defense held the Irish to 3-of-14 on third and fourth down conversions. The Tigers forced Notre Dame into six punts.

The Tigers also played a penalty-free game, while the Irish were penalized five times for 40 yards.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Cade Klubnik (2) and head coach Dabo Swinney react after a game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium. North Carolina State won 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Unranked Clemson under fire with No. 15 Notre Dame up next

Each of the last four times Notre Dame has met Clemson on the football field, at least one of the teams has been ranked in the top five of The Associated Press poll — and two of those meetings have come in the postseason.

This time around, much less is at stake as an unranked Clemson team hosts Notre Dame — No. 15 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings of the season — on Saturday in upstate South Carolina.

Clemson (4-4, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) is coming off a 24-17 loss at N.C. State and is enduring its first season with at least four losses in league play since 2010, which was the second full season on the job for coach Dabo Swinney.

In their defeat to the Wolfpack, the Tigers fell behind 24-7 in the third quarter after quarterback Cade Klubnik threw a pick-6 and then the Clemson defense allowed Wolfpack receiver Kevin Concepcion to score on a 72-yard touchdown pass.

Earlier this week, Swinney felt the heat from fans during his weekly radio show. They criticized the 53-year-old’s inability to adapt in the changing landscape of college football, where the top programs are embracing the transfer portal and name, image and likeness opportunities for players. Swinney seemed to take offense when a fan named “Tyler from Spartanburg” mentioned his 10-year, $115 million contract.

“Is this a bad year? Yeah, and it’s my responsibility,” Swinney said. “Take 100 percent responsibility for it. But all this bull crap you’re thinking, all these narratives you read. Listen, man, you can have your opinion all you want, and you can apply for the job.”

According to the website On3, Clemson brought in just one transfer this offseason, quarterback Paul Tyson from Arizona State, who has thrown just three passes this season.

By comparison, Notre Dame (7-2) brought in seven transfers. Among them are starting defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste (Ohio State), defensive back Thomas Harper (Oklahoma State) and starting quarterback Sam Hartman (Wake Forest).

Hartman didn’t play all that well in Notre Dame’s 58-7 win last weekend over Pitt, but he didn’t have to. The Irish led 44-0 at the end of the third quarter after notching a pair of defensive touchdowns and an 82-yard punt return for a score.

Still, Hartman ranks among the best quarterbacks in the country in various categories this season and is a big reason the offense is 12th in the nation in scoring with 38.3 points per game. Hartman is 14th in passer rating, with a 165.34 mark, and 17th with 18 passing touchdowns. He has led the Irish to a pair of wins over ranked opponents in Duke and Southern California.

Despite Hartman throwing a pair of interceptions against Pitt, Irish coach Marcus Freeman doesn’t plan to change his approach on offense.

“We’re going to continuously be aggressive, even if the result isn’t what we want,” Freeman said. “(Hartman) is a consistent individual and always responds with the proper response.”

Clemson is 4-3 all-time against Notre Dame. The Irish beat the Tigers 35-14 last season in South Bend, Ind.

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Hurricanes linebacker Corey Flagg Jr. (11) tackles Clemson Tigers quarterback Cade Klubnik (2) to win the game in over time at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson hoping to get ‘over the hump’ at NC State

These have been perplexing times for Clemson, but that’s no reason for on-the-fly changes before the next game.

The Tigers will visit North Carolina State for Saturday afternoon’s Atlantic Coast Conference matchup in Raleigh, N.C.

“Just got to get over the hump,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “We just can’t quite seem to put it together.”

Clemson (4-3, 2-3) suffered a double-overtime loss to Miami last Saturday in a game that likely pushed the Tigers out of the league championship picture.

But despite some uneven play from quarterback Cade Klubnik, the Tigers are sticking with him. On the last snap of the Miami game, he deviated from the called play, and it turned out badly.

“Got to go with him, that’s just where we’re at,” Swinney said when asked of any potential QB changes.

North Carolina State (4-3, 1-2) already made a change at quarterback, moving MJ Morris ahead of Brennan Armstrong earlier this month. The Wolfpack are 1-1 with Morris atop the depth chart.

“We took a step back in that Duke game with self-inflicted things,” North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren said of a 24-3 loss at then-No. 17 Duke on Oct. 14.

The Wolfpack had last week off and are looking for their first league win since beating Virginia on Sept. 22.

“One thing as a coach that you hope for is that they’ll just keep fighting,” Doeren said. “This team has never shown that it won’t.”

This is a far cry from last season’s clash, when North Carolina State and Clemson were both ranked in the top 10.

Clemson has defeated the Wolfpack in nine of the last 10 meetings. North Carolina State won a double-overtime game two years ago at home.

The Tigers are expected to be without receiver Antonio Williams, who suffered a toe injury against the Hurricanes. Defensive end Xavier Thomas has rejoined workouts after sitting out because of a team-issued suspension last weekend.

Wolfpack linebacker Payton Wilson is averaging an ACC-leading 11.6 tackles per game.

Doeren, who has a 76-57 record in 11 seasons with the Wolfpack, is one victory away from tying Earle Edwards (1954-70) for the most wins in program history.

–Field Level Media

Oct 7, 2023; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers cornerback Toriano Pride Jr. (23) and safety R.J. Mickens (9) tackle Wake Forest Demon Deacons defensive back Justin Simpkins (80) during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson looking for another lopsided win over Miami

Perhaps the last team that slumping Miami wants to see this week is Clemson.

That’s because the Hurricanes have lost four straight games to the Tigers by a combined score of 178-30.

Like it or not, Clemson (4-2, 2-2) will visit Miami (4-2, 0-2) on Saturday night for an Atlantic Coast Conference battle.

While Clemson has won two straight games since losing to Florida State in overtime, Miami is reeling.

The Hurricanes lost in the final second at home against Georgia Tech on Oct. 7. And last weekend, Miami blew a halftime lead and lost 41-31 at then-No. 12 North Carolina.

“We’ve got to be better,” said Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, who has five interceptions in his last two games.

Van Dyke reportedly is dealing with a right leg injury, but coach Mario Cristobal confirmed he will play Saturday.

“Was he banged up in the game? Yes, he got banged up,” Cristobal said. “But is he tough? Absolutely, he’s really tough. He wants to win, and he’s ready to roll.”

Van Dyke leads an offense that ranks second in the ACC in scoring (37.7 points per game). He is tied for the league with 16 touchdown passes, and his 286.8 yards-per-game average ranks second.

Miami slot receiver Xavier Restrepo leads the ACC with 47 catches. In receiving yards, Restrepo (574) and Jacolby George (462) rank third and fourth, respectively.

Hurricanes running back Henry Parrish Jr. — who lost a fumble at the goal line against North Carolina — ranks sixth in the league in rushing yards (452) and seventh in average yards per carry (6.3).

Defensively, the Hurricanes rank third in the ACC in average points allowed (19).

Miami hasn’t beaten Clemson since 2010.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is one win away from 166 career victories, a total that would break a tie with the late Frank Howard for the school record.

“Hopefully, I’m here a long time, and we win many more games,” Swinney said. “But Frank Howard is Clemson.”

The Tigers, who are coming off a bye week, have had their struggles offensively this year, especially in a 28-7 season-opening loss at Duke. Overall, Clemson ranks fifth in the league with a 32.2-point scoring average.

Clemson’s Cade Klubnik ranks sixth in the ACC in average passing yards (228.3) and Will Shipley ranks sixth in rushing yards (450).

Defensively, the Tigers rank fourth in the league in average points allowed (19.3).

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2023; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Cade Klubnik (2) throws a pass against the Florida State Seminoles during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson looks to take care of business vs. Wake Forest

Clemson will look to even its conference record when it welcomes visiting Wake Forest to town for an Atlantic Coast Conference matchup on Saturday.

The Tigers (3-2, 1-2 ACC) notched their first league win and quieted some of their detractors with a 31-14 victory at Syracuse last weekend.

“When you’re Clemson and (have) the amount of criticism and noise that these kids have to deal with, I’m proud of how they responded,” said Tigers coach Dabo Swinney, whose team opened the ACC slate with losses to Duke and Florida State.

Wake Forest (3-1, 0-1) has its own issues to sort out but had some time to do so. The Demon Deacons were off last week after falling 30-16 at home to Georgia Tech in their ACC opener on Sept. 23.

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said the open week came at an ideal time.

“We’ve got to heal up, get healthy, have to evaluate what we’re doing, and we’ve got to fix our mistakes,” Clawson said. “Because if you keep doing this, it’s going to be a long next two months.”

Turnovers have hurt the Demon Deacons. They had five giveaways against Georgia Tech.

“We’re not going to beat anybody if we turn it over three times, let alone five times,” Clawson said.

This game presents Clemson with a chance to build momentum. Quarterback Cade Klubnik was praised for good decision-making against Syracuse, finishing 23-of-37 passing for 263 yards, two scores and no picks. Tyler Brown caught nine passes for 153 yards against the Orange.

The Tigers have thrown 137 consecutive passes without an interception.

“He’s just growing and growing and growing,” Swinney said of Klubnik.

Clemson running back Will Shipley continues to climb the program’s all-time charts. He’s now in ninth place in total touchdowns (30) after rushing for one against Syracuse.

Two injured Tigers players, receiver Antonio Williams and cornerback Nate Wiggins, could return to action after not making the trip to Syracuse.

Clemson has won 14 consecutive meetings with Wake Forest, including a 51-45 victory in double-overtime last season. The Tigers have a 70-17-1 lead in the all-time series.

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2023; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Garrett Shrader (6) scores a rushing touchdown against the Army Black Knights in the fourth quarter at the JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson takes aim at unbeaten Syracuse

Six Atlantic Coast Conference teams are undefeated entering this weekend, so it’s no surprise that the matchup between Clemson and Syracuse features one team with an unblemished record.

However, in an unlikely twist, it’s the host Orange who will put their unbeaten mark on the line Saturday.

Clemson (2-2, 0-2 ACC) outgained then-fourth-ranked Florida State 429-311 last weekend and outrushed the Seminoles 146-22 before falling in overtime 31-24. Clemson committed a costly turnover and also missed a 29-yard field goal in the disappointing setback.

“That, honestly, was probably as tough a loss as I’ve ever been a part of,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said, adding that “if you can’t see the heart of our team, then you’re just blind.”

An agitated group of Tigers will travel to Syracuse to take on the Orange (4-0, 0-0), who ran the table in non-conference play, punctuating the slate with a 29-16 triumph against Army last week.

Syracuse survived a sluggish first half in which it trailed 10-3 at intermission before scoring the first 26 points of the second half.

Garrett Shrader completed 21 of 26 passes for 245 yards and a touchdown and also ran for a score. LeQuint Allen (104 rushing yards, TD) and Damien Alford (nine catches, 135 yards) were among the other offensive standouts for Syracuse.

That trio will need to step up if the hosts are going to compete with the Tigers’ Cade Klubnik — who has nine passing TDs and two rushing scores this year — and the backfield of Will Shipley and Phil Mafah (527 rushing yards and four rushing TDs combined).

“These guys are the same champions that they’ve always been,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. “There’s a reason why they’ve won so many championships and they’ve been in (so many playoffs).”

Clemson has won nine of the last 10 meetings between the teams, including 27-21 a season ago. The Orange were undefeated heading into that one, as well, before the Tigers sent Syracuse tumbling toward a 1-6 finish to the season.

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2023; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Keon Coleman (4) catches a touchdown pass in the first half against the Clemson Tigers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

No. 4 Florida State survives in OT win at Clemson

Keon Coleman caught a 24-yard jump-ball touchdown pass in overtime as No. 4 Florida State beat Clemson 31-24 in an Atlantic Coast Conference matchup in Clemson, S.C.

On second down, Coleman went up over Tigers cornerback Jeadyn Lukus and pulled in the game winner to put the Seminoles (4-0, 2-0 ACC) ahead for the first time.

On fourth-and-2 on his team’s OT series, Tigers quarterback Cade Klubnik threw errantly on fourth down as (Clemson 2-2, 0-2) lost for the first time in eight meetings with FSU.

Tigers kicker Jonathan Weitz missed a tiebreaking 29-yard field goal inside the final two minutes of regulation

FSU’s Jordan Travis went 21 of 37 for 289 yards including two scores to Coleman.

The Seminoles lead the series 21-15 and won for the first time in fives games at Clemson.

Klubnik was 25 of 38 for 283 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for one.

Will Shipley rushed for a score and caught one.

On its second possession, Clemson started at its 8-yard line then had to convert a fourth-and-1 at midfield during a drive that appeared to stall.

The 15-play, 79-yard drive, which moved down to the 10, ended with new kicker Weitz making his first career attempt, a 30-yarder, for a 3-0 lead at 1:47 left in the first quarter.

Clemson’s next series was kept alive by an FSU holding penalty on a third-down pass play near the goal line. Klubnik then called his own number on a sneak and was shoved in from a yard out for a 10-0 advantage at 11:33 of the second quarter.

On the following possession, Travis got great protection on third-and-goal and zipped a 7-yard strike to Coleman all alone in the end zone at 5:10.

The Seminoles’ first scoring drive traveled 75 yards in 13 plays and also included Travis converting fourth-and-1 at midfield.

After Shipley answered for the Tigers by ending a 71-yard drive with a 10-yard TD reception to push it to 17-7, Travis scored his 26th career rushing TD — a school record for a quarterback — on a sneak with 22 seconds left.

Three minutes into the second half, FSU tied it on Ryan Fitzgerald’s 48-yard kick.

Shipley pulled Clemson ahead by tallying his first rushing TD this season on a 1-yard run with 3:32 left in the third quarter.

But FSU tied it at 24-all on a blitz when Kalen DeLoach jarred the ball loose then recovered it and rumbled 56 yards for the tie.

–Field Level Media