The Clemsoning is real, ya’ll.
Every year — the game usually varies — Clemson snatches defeat from the hands of victory and those who have seen this happen time and time again have dubbed it Clemsoning.
This year it was against Florida State.
The Tigers had everything working in their favor — a backup quarterback playing for a Heisman Trophy winner, a defensive line that was playing out of its mind, two gift interceptions and outgaining the Seminoles by nearly 100 yards. But none of those things could outweigh the bad — two missed field goals, a botched snap on the Florida State 1-yard line and a fumble on the Florida State 18-yard line on what should have been the game-winning drive with about a minute and a half remaining.
It was almost like Clemson did everything it could not to win the game. It was like the situation was almost too perfect for Clemson to pull off the big upset and knock Florida State from the national championship picture. And for anyone watching it was almost unbelievable to see.
Meanwhile, suspended Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston still came out a winner. Even though he didn’t play a down, he was on the sidelines cheering, he was in every other camera frame, he was celebrating with his team like his punishment didn’t even matter.
And in the end, it didn’t.
Florida State willed its way to victory and Clemson helped the Seminoles achieve it.
Florida State starting quarterback Sean Maguire was not good. He held the ball too long, he made a lot of mistakes, and he nearly cost his team the game with a big interception late. But he did make a key touchdown pass when it counted and he managed the overtime by handing the ball off without incident.
Those two things were all Florida State really needed because Clemson provided the Seminoles with everything else.
For the second consecutive season, Clemson will look back at this game and groan. Last year, Winston beat the brakes off the Tigers. This year, Clemson was poised for payback and beat itself.
Now, this game becomes a rallying cry for Florida State. A time the Seminoles faced adversity and found a way to win. It’s hard to imagine any team for the rest of the season will have a better shot at beating the defending national champions.
Here’s a look at the other winners and loser from Week 4:
Iowa: This team sure didn’t look like the same Hawkeyes that lost to Iowa State last week. They weren’t world-beaters by any stretch in a 24-20 win over Pitt, but Kirk Ferentz’s team took some chances, including some shots down the field that paid off, and they blitzed in big situations to bury any hope the Panthers had of coming back in the final moments. The Hawkeyes also have a decision to make at QB after backup C.J. Beathard went 7-of-8 for 178 yards to close out the game after starter Jake Rudock was marginal in completing 7-of-12 for 150 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Purdue awaits Iowa next week, and in a season where the Hawkeyes don’t play Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State or Penn State, that’s an early must-win. But it’s got to be good to be heading into that game with a win and momentum under center.
The Fightin’ Paul Johnsons are 4-0! And won in Blacksburg! And (allegedly) stole the ’T’ from Lane Stadium! Never doubt the overwhelming power of the option, and it is humming for the Yellow Jackets, who are 12th in the FBS in rushing yards, and quite simply, have found ways to win games as the games have gotten tougher. They’ve also been opportunistic, picking off opposing quarterbacks six times. We’re not going to get carried away, as it only gets tougher from here for Georgia Tech. But it’s the first time the Yellow Jackets have won the battle of the Techs in Blacksburg since 2006, and only the fourth time overall since 1990.
Remember two weeks ago when Old Dominion scared the daylights out of NC State in a 46-34 loss? Turns out that was no fluke. The Monarchs opened their Conference USA tenure with a 25-yard field goal by Ricky Segers as time expired to win 45-42 over Rice on the road. Mercy. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke was absolutely terrific, completing 27-of-43 for 430 yards, five touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Middle Tennessee next week should be tough, and Marshall two weeks from now may be the toughest conference game the Monarchs will play. Win both, and Old Dominion is on track to be one of the best stories of the year in just its first full season of FBS football.
East Carolina: Much has been made about Marshall QB Rakeem Cato's Heisman sleeper status. Maybe the best non-Power Five conference Heisman candidate is East Carolina's Shane Carden? East Carolina piled up 789 yards of offense against North Carolina in a 70-41 drubbing of the Tar Heels. Carden was 30-of-48 for 438 yards passing, four touchdowns and an interception. Through four games – including three against teams in the top 25 at the time – Carden has thrown for 1,469 yards and 11 touchdowns. Unfortunately for his Heisman hopes, however, the Pirates' American Athletic Conference schedule is ridiculously easy from here on.
UConn coach Bob Diaco: The Huskies spent the greater part of four quarters running the ball and refusing to go to the air in a 17-14 loss to USF. Perhaps Diaco had his reasons (Chandler Whitmer’s 49-percent completion rate entering the game probably didn’t help), and if he felt there was an advantage to be had on the ground, why not go for it? Here’s why: UConn carried the ball 27 times for a soul-crushing 44 yards – an average of 1.6 yards per carry. In the first three quarters, the Huskies’ only points came by way of a Byron Jones 70-yard interception return. After just one quarter, they were chasing the game down 14-0. And yet, the ground pound remained. Whitmer ended up 6-of-9 for 88 yards, and four of those came on straight completions during UConn’s last gasp drive in final two minutes to bring the score to 17-14 with 1:16 remaining. Sure, you can say it was due to spacing on the field, prevent defense, and those points would be valid. It’s probably also fair to say it would have been worth going to the air a bit earlier in the game.
Michael Brewer: At the outset, it seemed like the perfect match between Michael Brewer and Virginia Tech. Brewer has been passed over, some would argue unfairly, for a chance to be Texas Tech’s QB after injury troubles. Virginia Tech had just lost Logan Thomas and was in desperate need of a boost as the ACC expanded and accelerated around them. And hey, the Hokies went into Columbus and knocked off the Buckeyes a couple weeks ago and we all got a glimpse of a bright future. Since then, they’ve lost to ECU and Georgia Tech, and most notably, Brewer has thrown five interceptions in that span. But he’s also completed 60 percent of his passes for 595 yards. He threw three interceptions against the Jackets alone, and his fantastic, heads-up scooped fumble for a touchdown aside, he’s rightly the first place most would point to when searching for an explanation for that pivotal conference loss at home. The Jekyll-and-Hyde act has to go. The rest of the numbers are up to snuff, but the turnovers have been anything but.
South Carolina's special teams: Will someone please remind South Carolina to kick the ball away from Darrius Sims next time it plays Vanderbilt? The Commodores' speedy sophomore returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown, then followed that up with an electric 100-yard touchdown return in the third quarter. That second return kept the Commodores in the game when it looked like the Gamecocks were about to pull away. On his three returns, Sims averaged 72.3 yards. The Gamecocks' kick coverage unit might want to work a bit harder in practice next week.
Lousiana Tech: The worst loss of the day doesn't belong to LSU. It belongs to another team in Lousiana Tech. The Bulldogs gave up 20 fourth quarter points to FCS Northwestern State in a 30-27 loss in its home opener. Yes, that's the same Northwestern State that lost 70-6 to Baylor with Baylor's backup QB Seth Russell getting the start. Lousiana Tech went up 27-17 but Northwestern State scored the final 13 points with under five minutes left in the fourth quarter (including two scores in the final 65 seconds!) thanks to a Kenneth Dixon fumble and a Cody Sokol interception, his third of the day.
And this cheerleader didn't have a good day either. (H/T Deadspin)
Max Thompson, Nick Bromberg and Sam Cooper also contributed to this report.
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