2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 3 - Auburn at Clemson
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Sept. 17 at Clemson 38 … Auburn 24
CFN Analysis: This was the coming of age game for Clemson. The young Tigers were terrific with the freshmen showing off their speed and athleticism, led by Sammy Watkins who caught ten passes for 155 yards and two scores, while running for 44 yards on seven carries. But it was the play of Tajh Boyd that showed just how good Clemson could be, completing 30-of-42 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns making all the right decisions and being in total command of the attack. How good was the Clemson offense? It converted 14-of-18 third down chances and finished with 624 yards of offense. This was big, the next two weeks against Florida State and Virginia Tech will be even bigger.
Auburn has to figure out how to tackle. The Tigers were slipping off Clemson runners time and again and had several chances to come up with stops to shut down plays, and didn't. The run defense was the third-worst in America coming into the game, and Clemson, who is just average on the ground, rumbled for 238 yards. On the plus side, Michael Dyer was tremendous, running for 151 yards and two scores on just 16 carries, but Barrett Trotter only completed 12-of-25 passes for 198 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Playing Florida Atlantic next week will make everything look better, but reality should return the week after against South Carolina unless the Tigers get more physical.
(AP) CLEMSON, S.C. -- No. 21 Auburn's luck ended Saturday along with its 17-game winning streak as Tajh Boyd threw for 386 yards and four touchdowns in Clemson's 38-24 victory over the defending national champions.
Auburn (2-1) took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter before Boyd began hitting his targets over the final three periods. Clemson converted 10 straight third-down attempts as it improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2007.
Auburn may have a dynamic offense, but it was last in Southeastern Conference defense coming in and it showed at Death Valley. Clemson scored on five of six possessions at one point and gained 624 yards – it's most ever against an SEC opponent.
Trailing 38-24 in the fourth quarter, Auburn moved to Clemson's 8-yard line. But Barrett Trotter was intercepted by Coty Sensabaugh to end the threat.
Michael Dyer led Auburn with 151 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Clemson players jumped around in celebration when the clock struck zero and fans swarmed the field.
Clemson had lost 14 straight to Auburn since a 34-0 win in 1951. That was also the last time Clemson posted as many yards of offense (524) against an SEC opponent -- Clemson plays South Carolina, an SEC member since 1992, each year.
Boyd's touchdown passes included throws of 65 and 19 yards to freshman receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins finished with 10 catches for 155 yards, both setting Clemson records for a freshman.
Trotter was continually harassed by Clemson's defense, particularly in the second half when he completed four passes. He finished 12 of 25 for 198 yards in his first road start.
Auburn expected to see a mirror-image of its offense out of Clemson: its new coordinator Chad Morris is good friends and a student of Auburn offensive leader Gus Malzahn. But it was
Malzahn's well-honed attack that got the better of things early on, threatening to give the Atlantic Coast Conference another black eye in nonconference play.
Dyer struck for a 52-yard touchdown run on Auburn's second series and Emory Blake caught a 36-yard scoring pass from Barrett Trotter a series later for a 14-0 lead.
It was Blake's sixth straight game with scoring catch, something Auburn hadn't seen since Byron Franklin did it in 1980.
Dyer's second rushing touchdown of the game put Auburn ahead 21-7 midway through the second quarter.
But Auburn's defensive cracks eventually showed up for Clemson to plow through. Boyd was 3-of-3 on third-down throws the next time Clemson had the ball, including a 6-yard TD pass to Dwayne Allen in the back of the end zone to end an 81-yard scoring drive.
Clemson went 75 yards the next time it got the ball, the big play coming on Allen's 23-yard catch to the Auburn 2. Andre Ellington finished things off with a touchdown run to tie the game.
The teams combined for 520 yards of offense in the opening half, Auburn gaining 285 of those. That changed dramatically after halftime with Clemson outgaining Auburn, 389-150.
Auburn (2-0) at Clemson (2-0) Sept. 17, 12:00, ABC
Here's The Deal … Just how good are these two Tigers? We'll all have a much better idea by early Saturday afternoon. What the combined 4-0 mark of this week's combatants doesn't show is how much trouble it took to get to this point. The defending national champs have kept winning, but not without some precarious moments. A week after needing two touchdowns in the final two minutes to stave off Utah State, Auburn used a goal line stand in the final seconds to defeat Mississippi State, 41-34.
The Tigers have been living a charmed life, but how much longer can it continue? Don't tell Clemson fans that its team is undefeated. They don't want to hear it. The locals, who've serenaded the team with a chorus of boos, know that the Tigers have not looked sharp so far in 2011, trailing Troy and Wofford in the second half of both games. End Auburn's 17-game winning streak, though, and the fans will surely have a short memory. As a former Alabama player and assistant, embattled Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has a unique perspective on Auburn. Auburn head coach Gene Chizik has earned two degrees, including a Masters from Clemson.
Why Auburn Might Win: Cam Newton is a Carolina Panther, but the Tigers are still finding ways to score plenty of points. The ground game is diverse, getting big plays a week ago from Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb. QB Barrett Trotter has been steady and poised when it matters most, dishing the ball to WR Emory Blake and TE Philip Lutzenkirchen. The diversity of Auburn's attack will create problems for Clemson, which yielded a shade under 400 yards of offense to Wofford on Saturday. The Auburn staff successfully reshuffled the offensive line prior to the Mississippi State game, though the Tigers D-linemen, namely NG Brandon Thompson and DE Andre Branch, will present an even tougher challenge.
Why Clemson Might Win: The primary reason Auburn is so close to being 0-2 is that defense has played miserably, especially on third downs. Clemson will capitalize with a new system that challenges defenses with its tempo and quick strikes. QB Tajh Boyd is adapting nicely to his new role as coordinator Chad Morris' triggerman, throwing six touchdown passes and maximizing the speed of young receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins. However, the Tigers might want to lean a little harder on its homerun hitting back Andre Ellington this weekend. Auburn has given no indication that it can stop the run in 2011, allowing 560 yards and seven touchdowns through two games to rank 118th in the country.
What To Watch Out For: Where are the pass rushes? While Auburn and Clemson both harbor quickness and former blue-chippers up front, the pair has tallied just three sacks combined. Since both offensive lines are works-in-progress, there should be a little more traffic in the backfield this weekend. Auburn will need to contain not just Branch and Thompson, but also athletic end Malliciah Goodman. Clemson, which is having major issues in pass protection, will struggle to seal off the edge speed of Corey Lemonier and Nosa Eguae. Boyd will need a quick trigger and even quicker feet to evade the rush.
What Will Happen: With Auburn and Clemson, who went to overtime last September, in the same building, anything less than a pulsating thriller will be a disappointment. All of the ingredients are in place for this meeting to entertain from wire-to-wire. Neither program is a complete product, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Auburn, though, has cornered the market on winning games that can go either way in the fourth quarter. It's battle-tested, with the experience to handle the charged atmosphere at Death Valley. Ellington will shine, as will Dyer, who'll help lead Auburn to yet another heart-stopping victory.
CFN Prediction: Auburn 31 … Clemson 30 …
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Clemson -3.5 O/U: 59
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