|Tajh Boyd leaps over the pile for one of his two rushing touchdowns in the 38-17 win. (US Presswire)|
CLEMSON WON. The Tigers defense starred as the offense sputtered, but four Virginia Tech turnovers kept the Hokies from climbing back into the game as Clemson pulled away late for the 38-17 victory. The Tigers offense totaled just 295 yards -- a season low and second worst under offensive coordinator Chad Morris -- against a Virginia Tech defense that looked much more like the Hokies of old.
But holding the Tigers to just 6 of 15 on third-down conversions was not enough to win with the issues on Virginia Tech's offense. Logan Thomas was intercepted twice, and wide receiver Marcus Davis also threw an interception on some trickeration gone wrong. The game was also notable for a questionable call on a Sammy Watkins fumble/non-fumble in the third quarter. Watkins was ruled down, and the Tigers' drive ended in a touchdown that broke a quarter-long 17-10 stalemate between the teams
HOW CLEMSON WON: The Tigers got pressure on Thomas, who admittedly faces an uphill battle with the retooled offensive line. For the most part, Clemson kept the Hokies in front of them and sat back waiting for an opportunity to make a play. Thomas ended up rushing the ball a team-high 21 times for 99 yards and a touchdown, with the team chipping in 100 more on one of the better ground days of the season.
The issues on offense are a concern for Clemson, as is Tajh Boyd's health. The starting quarterback appeared to be favoring his shoulder during the second half, most notably after diving over the pile for a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Boyd had his worst passing day of the season, completing 12 of 21 passes for 160 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Andre Ellington led the way on the ground with 96 yards on 19 carries, and Watkins caught eight passes for 84 yards.
WHEN CLEMSON WON: After Ellington's touchdown gave the Tigers a 24-10 lead, the Hokies were flagged for a pair of penalties in a three-and-out on the following possession. It was a frustrating sight for Virginia Tech fans, as Boyd delivered one of his best passes on the day to Nuk Hopkins for a 37-yard touchdown that extended the lead to 31-10. At that point, the momentum Virginia Tech had built up on defense had been erased -- with a lead that seemed insurmountable late with just one quarter to play.
WHAT CLEMSON WON: Bowl eligibility, for one, but also a conference win in a game that did not feature lots of fireworks from the offense. If Boyd and Co. are going to have an off-game this season, always nice to take it in a winning effort. With Florida State's loss to NC State two weeks ago, the Tigers have a better chance of reaching the ACC Championship game. But without the head-to-head tiebreaker, there is no margin for error in conference play from here on out. Survive and advance, or something.
WHAT VIRGINIA TECH LOST: The defense woke up in the second half of the Duke game, and it maintained that high level of play into this game. With four-year starter Andrew Miller out, the offensive line continues to get reworked and the impact on the offense is noticeable. With four losses, the 10-win streak for Virginia Tech is almost out of reach. But at this point, the Hokies have more concerns than just keeping a streak alive.
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