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With Complete Effort, Clemson Shows It’s Still the Standard in the ACC

Plus, No. 1 Georgia survived a serious scare and Bryan Harsin’s time at Auburn may have run out.

Clemson simply isn’t built to win conference games against good opponents in a blowout style. To expect that from the Tigers is folly. To expect DJ Uiagalelei to magically transform into Trevor Lawrence or Deshaun Watson is, too. He is what he is, and ya know what? That’s pretty good for these Tigers right now, after earning a complete 30–20 win over NC State. Uiagalelei had 75 yards and two touchdowns on the ground showcasing his legs, which he had been reluctant to do last year.

Even without star lineman Brian Bresee, who was ruled out shortly before the game, Clemson’s defense stood tall in Week 5, stymying the Wolfpack most of the evening (a late garbage time score got the final scoring margin to 10). What really hampered NC State was a true inability to run the ball against a stout Clemson front. That limited the play-action passing game ,and although QB Devin Leary started hot, he was unable to maintain that performance. Despite all of their early-season struggles relative to their lofty championship heights, the Tigers are still the standard in the ACC and they showed tonight that they’ve still got it.

Clemson’s DJ Uiagalelei celebrates a score

Uiagalelei accounted for three total touchdowns against NC State.

Now as far as other Tigers go, from the moment Auburn went up 17–0 on LSU Saturday night, you could tell that there was going to be something. There always is with Bryan Harsin’s team, just like last week when it went up 14–0 on Missouri and then pulled out a miracle in overtime. But there would be no miracles in this game—only an LSU team that came back to win 21–17 on the road. 

Auburn’s ill-fated trick play attempt in the red zone effectively ended the game, and in total LSU forced four turnovers. Attention now turns to whether Harsin will be on the sideline next week when Auburn plays Georgia, who will enter that game undefeated. But there was a point in time Saturday when the Bulldogs’ perfect record looked like it was in real doubt. 

The Dawgs got all they could handle on the road against Missouri, who was seriously upset-minded on this day. But Harrison Mevis’s five field goals were not enough to write a Cinderella script in the end, and UGA escaped 26–22 in a game where standout defensive tackle Jalen Carter went down with an injury early. Mevis’s threes were nice, but the Tigers needed more sevens in this one to seal the deal. Georgia closed the door in the fourth quarter as it kept chopping at Mizzou with the run game until it got the breakthrough it needed to survive. 

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