There was talk of an upset around the Texas A&M locker room this week, but Clemson wasn’t having any of that—especially at home in Death Valley. Here are three quick observations from a schedule-strengthening 24–10 win by the Tigers on Saturday afternoon.
Sweet revenge: While Clemson did beat Texas A&M last year in College Station, Aggies quarterback Kellen Mond had his best game of the season. He was sacked three times, but still managed to expose the Clemson secondary, slicing them up for 430 yards through the air with three passing touchdowns and no interceptions. He was extra spectacular in the second half, which included a 14-yard touchdown toss to Kendrick Rogers to cut the lead to 28–26 with 46 seconds left. The Aggies ultimately came up short after a two-point conversion attempt was intercepted in the end zone.
Despite losing four All-Americans on the defensive line—including three first round NFL draft picks—Clemson reloaded its defense and was ready for Mond this time. Mond scored four touchdowns in Texas A&M’s season opener last week, but struggled early vs. the Tigers going 5 of 14 for 52 yards with no touchdowns, a fumble and was sacked by sophomore Xavier Thomas in the first half.
Mond was dealing with an apparent cramp in his right calf, but kept playing and finished the day by going 24 of 42 for 236 yards with one touchdown (on the final play of the game) and an interception.
Trevor Lawrence is back? To being the guy we remember from last year. The sophomore star quarterback struggled in Week 1, uncharacteristically throwing two interceptions against Georgia Tech. He was sharper this week though, going 24 of 35 for 268 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Save for some overthrown balls, his throws looked effortless, hitting nine different receivers.
He looked especially like the guy we remember from his coming out party against Alabama in the national title game when he rolled to his left, evaded pressure and lofted a beautiful 30-yard TD pass to Justyn Ross in the second quarter.
It’s too early to be concerned about decision making, but we should remember that Lawrence only threw four interceptions all of last season. Through two games this season, he’s thrown three.
So much for that upset: Aggies offensive lineman Jared Hocker confidently predicted an upset against the defending national champions. So much for that. Now that Clemson has its toughest regular season opponent out of the way, the road to yet another College Football Playoff seems imminent.
Next week the Tigers head to Syracuse. The Orange were ranked No. 21 in the country this week but were straight up destroyed by Maryland, 63–20. With Dino Babers’s team likely falling out of the top 25 before hosting the Tigers, Clemson has no ranked opponents left on its schedule and will almost certainly be double-digit favorites the rest of the season.
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