Clemson vs. Texas A&M score, takeaways: No. 1 Tigers make quick work of No. 12 Aggies in thorough win
The top team in the nation passed its toughest test of the season with flying colors
No. 1 Clemson reminded everybody why its the No. 1 team in the nation on Saturday, beating No. 12 Texas A&M, 24-10. The Aggies didn't make things easy for the Tigers, but that final score is not an accurate reflection of the way the game went. The Aggies scored a touchdown with fewer than 10 seconds remaining in the game to make it look a lot closer than it was (all while appeasing a lot of people who took the Aggies and the points). At the end of the day, the final margin won't matter to the teams as much as the result.
Clemson's defense is the less-heralded unit of the team in 2019, but it deserves most of the credit for the win. The Tigers held Texas A&M to 289 yards of total offense, and 91 of those yards came on A&M's final touchdown drive to finish the game when the outcome had already been decided.
That final touchdown drive was possible because of a Trevor Lawrence interception on an underthrow that could have put Clemson ahead 31-3 had it been a better throw. It's the second week in a row that Lawrence was good, but not great (24-of-35 passing, 268 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT).
Here are four takeaways from Clemson's 17th consecutive victory.
1. Despite the struggles, there are just so many weapons on this Clemson offense. As mentioned above, Lawrence didn't have his greatest game. Neither did Travis Etienne, who finished with only 53 yards on 16 carries. The 53 yards are Etienne's lowest in a game since he had 45 in Clemson's 59-10 win over Florida State last season, and that was result based, not performance based.
But what happens on a day when Etienne can't find much room to work in the run game (he caught four passes for 52 yards)? Well, Lyn-J Dixon steps in and picks up the slack, rushing for 79 yards and a score on 11 carries.
In the passing game, Justyn Ross finished with 94 yards and a score on seven catches, while Tee Higgins had four receptions for 70 yards himself. Everywhere you turn, there's another stud. It's an offense that keeps defensive coordinators up every night the week before playing it.
2. Kellen Mond is not a finished product yet. When Clemson came to College Station last season, Mond balled out. He finished the game with 430 yards passing and three touchdowns. Despite Texas A&M's loss that day, Mond's performance was taken as a sign that this Aggies team wasn't as far away from being a contender as most had assumed in Jimbo Fisher's first season.
Well, if Saturday's performance was an indicator, there's work to be done. Simply put, Mond did not play well. He completed only 24-of-42 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown. His best drive of the game came in the second half, but Mond struggled picking up the blitz all day. With the Aggies in the red zone and a chance of making it a game, Mond missed a blitzing linebacker and was hit as he threw. The ball fluttered in the air and was picked off by Tanner Muse to put the final nail in the Aggies coffin.
Mond fumbled in the first half as well, and his accuracy was off for most of the day. Now, in his defense, while some of his passes were off, his receivers didn't do him a lot of favors, as they dropped some catchable balls. Plus, Mond was dealing with cramps during the game as he spent a good portion of the contest limping heavily on his right leg.
Still, this is just the first of quite a few tough games the Aggies have to play in 2019, and if they're hoping for a different result in any of them, Mond needs to be better.
3. Texas A&M's defensive performance bodes well for the rest of the season. The Aggies didn't win the game, but their defense shouldn't hang its head. Holding this Clemson team to only 24 points is nothing to be ashamed of. Clemson's 389 yards of offense is its lowest total in any game since it managed just 124 yards against Alabama in the 2018 Sugar Bowl. Coincidentally, that was the last time Clemson lost a game.
4. Clemson's biggest challenge from here on out will be boredom. Heading into the season the two-game stretch that saw the Tigers hosting Texas A&M this week, followed by a road trip to No. 21 Syracuse looked to be a real test. Well, the Tigers disposed of the Aggies rather easily, and Syracuse lost to Maryland 63-20 on Saturday. While we should never assume anything in this sport, nor when Clemson heads north to take on the Orange, that Syracuse game doesn't look nearly as challenging anymore.
Should the Tigers get through that game unscathed, it's hard to see them being anything but two-touchdown favorites against everybody remaining on the schedule. So Swinney's biggest challenge over the final months of the season might be keeping his team focused before the ACC Championship.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way updating this story with the latest scores, highlights and analysis from Clemson vs. Texas A&M. If you are unable to view the updates below, please click here.
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