Chestnut Hill, MA — The No. 2 Clemson Tigers made a strong case to remain in the playoff hunt on Saturday.
Behind a monstrous offensive performance, the Tigers (10-0, 7-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) defeated the No. 17 Boston College Eagles (7-3, 4-2 ACC) 27-7 to clinch their fourth consecutive Atlantic Division title. The Tigers led for the majority of the game and led in every major offensive category.
From the start of the game, Clemson played as if their lives depended on it. Freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence and sophomore running back Travis Etienne led a balanced pass-run all the way to the Boston College 12-yard line before giving way to kicker Greg Heugel, who kicked in a 30-yard field goal for the first points of the game.
Boston College wasn’t about to just lay down and play dead though. At the 6:22 mark of the first quarter, wide receiver Michael Walker took a punt 74 yards to the house to give the Eagles a 7-3 lead. That lead didn’t last long, however, as Lawrence marched Clemson all the way to the Eagles’ 2-yard line. Wide receiver Milan Richard was the recipient of Lawrence’s hard work, as he caught a short lob to put the Tigers back on top 10-7 to end the first quarter.
The Eagles had a terrible second quarter performance, finishing with a net total of zero yards of offense. On the other hand, the Tigers got another solid offensive display from the duo of Etienne and Lawrence. A 23-yard field goal from Heugel at the 11:45 mark put the Tigers up 13-7.
Coming out of halftime, the Tigers wasted no time expanding their lead. A masterfully executed 3-play, 54-yard drive was capped by a 6-yard run from Lawrence, giving them a 20-7 advantage. Boston College was unable to pierce the Clemson defense, punting the ball three times and failing to convert on a fourth down. Adding insult to injury, the Eagles gave up a punt touchdown to Clemson’s Amari Rodgers early in the fourth.
When the Tigers did make a mistake, Boston College didn’t take advantage of it. With 3:36 to go in the fourth, Hamp Cheevers intercepted a pass from Lawrence on their 9-yard line. But quarterback EJ Perry was unable to get the Eagles past their own 29-yard line, as a 25-yard pass to Kobay White was negated by a 5-yard penalty. Three incomplete passes later, the Eagles were forced to punt the ball away, essentially ending the game.
Clemson, behind Lawrence’s 295 passing yards, out-gained Boston College 424 to 113. The Tigers’ rushing attack was beyond vicious tonight, as they racked up 129 yards. The Eagles had a lowly nine yards of rushing offense, with Jeff Smith (-7), Kobay White (-3) and the team combining for negative-42 yards.
With the win, Clemson clinched their record fourth consecutive division title and best conference record overall. This was not lost on head coach Dabo Swinney, who had taken over in the middle of the 2008 season from former head coach Tommy Bowden.
“To be here tonight and make history, winning four division titles, I just have to thank the good Lord for giving me the opportunity to be here,” Swinney said. “And these seniors, amazing. Amazing journey they’ve been on. Now we get a chance to go back to Charlotte and fight for another ACC championship.”
Clemson will finish the season with home games against Duke and South Carolina, while Boston College goes up against Florida State next week with a banged-up offense, as starting quarterback Anthony Brown left the Clemson game with an undisclosed internal injury.
Before joining The Ball Out, Chris Bullock was part of SB Nation’s Swish Appeal for nearly three years, covering everything women’s basketball. Chris has had the honor of doing live coverage of the WNBA Finals, the NCAA Tournament, and also was given his own column, “The Triple Double”. A self-described “foodaholic”, Chris lives in the San Diego area with his wife and two daughters, and also hosts his own podcast, “Conscious Cravings”, where he speaks about his experience as a mental health advocate.