2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 7 - Clemson at Maryland
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Oct. 15 Clemson 56 … at Maryland 45
CFN Analysis: It was almost like Clemson needed more of a challenge to make it interesting. This was Clemson being at its flaky best, but unlike past years, it came out with the win after a breathtaking offensive explosion. Good luck finding a more entertaining combination than Tajh Boyd to Sammy Watkins, but Andre Ellington was the unsung star of the show with 212 yards and two scores on 24 carries while putting the game away with his late scoring dash. The defense was a disaster after stuffing Virginia Tech and shutting down Boston College. The linebackers were out of position way too often and the line didn’t do enough against the run, but the offense, and a kickoff return by Watkins for a score – and his record-setting performance for all-purpose yards - saved the day. There might have been problems, but the Tigers are 7-0 going into a home game against North Carolina.
At least the Terps woke up. After a stunningly lifeless loss to Temple and the problems against Georgia Tech, the offense exploded with C.J. Brown showing he’s more than capable of handling the attack in place instead of Danny O’Brien. He threw well, but he added the flash on the ground with 162 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, but he couldn’t keep the chains moving and he couldn’t control the clock enough in the second half to keep the defense off the field. The D that’s been so soft against the run was a huge problem against the Tigers, and the special teams continue to be a problem with a breakdown on a key Tiger kickoff return for a score, but at least the awful punt return game was decent with Tony Logan making a few nice plays. Unfortunately, up next is a date against Florida State on the road.
(AP) COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Tajh Boyd threw four touchdown passes, freshman Sammy Watkins scored three touchdowns and No. 8 Clemson rallied from an 18-point deficit against Maryland to remain unbeaten with a 56-45 victory Saturday night.
The Tigers (7-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) trailed 28-10 late in the first half and 35-17 in the third quarter before storming back behind Boyd, who went 26 for 38 for 270 yards as the catalyst of an offense that amassed 576 yards.
Boyd had plenty of help. Watkins scored on an 89-yard kickoff return that put Clemson up 49-45 with 7:24 left. Watkins returned an earlier kickoff 70 yards, and his 345 all-purpose yards set a school record.
Andre Ellington rushed for a career-high 212 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers, who have scored at least 35 points in all but one game this season.
Maryland (2-4, 1-2) provided Clemson with an enormous scare behind sophomore quarterback C.J. Brown, who ran for 162 yards and a touchdown and threw three scoring passes in his first college start.
Terrapins first-year coach Randy Edsall waited until just before the game to pick Brown as his starter over Danny O'Brien. Brown did everything but win the game. In addition to his rushing total, he completed 17 for 35 passes for 177 yards.
But Clemson had too much offense for the Terps to overcome. After Brown threw a 32-yard TD pass to tight end Matt Furstenburg to put Maryland up 45-42, Watkins took off on his decisive kickoff return and Ellington clinched it with a 44-yard touchdown run with 3:55 to go.
The Terrapins took their second 18-point lead early in the third quarter when Brown capped a 78-yard touchdown drive with a 22-yard pass to Furstenburg.
Boyd responded with a 13-yard TD pass to Watkins to make it 35-24. After each team kicked a field goal, Boyd connected with Watkins for 51 yards, ran for 4 and threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Watkins. The 2-point conversion got Clemson to 38-35 entering the fourth quarter.
The comeback became complete when Boyd threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jaron Brown with 11:26 left to end an 80-yard drive.
Clemson would be forced to rally again, but Boyd, Watkins and Ellington were up to the challenge.
Maryland led 28-17 at halftime, but left the field lamenting several missed opportunities. The Terrapins dropped two potential interceptions, and Ronnie Tyler muffed a long pass late in the second quarter inside the Clemson 25.
The Tigers opened the game with a 95-yard drive but had to settle for a field goal. Maryland then punted, but Watkins dropped the kick and the Terrapins recovered. Two plays later, Davin Meggett ran in from the 9.
A second turnover produced a second Maryland touchdown, this one a 46-yard interception return by Cameron Chism that made it 14-3.
But Watkins took the subsequent kickoff 70 yards to the Maryland 30. That set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Ellington, who had 81 yards on 12 carries in the first quarter.
The Terrapins then let their offense do some work, and Brown complied. He threw a 40-yard pass to Furstenburg, then completed the 70-yard march with a 7-yard pass to Meggett.
Clemson punted again, and Brown ran for 47 yards in a 70-yard drive, including a 21-yard sprint to the end zone for a 28-10 lead.
Not to be outdone, Boyd passed and ran for 69 yards during a 73-yard march that ended with his 6-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins.
Clemson (6-0) at Maryland (2-3) Oct. 15, 7:00, ESPNU
Here’s The Deal … It’s still early in the week, but Clemson appears as if it’ll survive a serious scare. While the Tigers cast aside Boston College with ease last Saturday, 36-14, the entire stadium held its collective breath when QB Tajh Boyd needed to be helped off the field. The rising star suffered a hip strain, though X-rays came back negative, and he expects to play this weekend. And exhale. The Tigers need their quarterback to be at full strength in order to remain unblemished, and in the hunt for an ACC championship and more.
Maryland is on the verge of becoming little more than a spoiler as the 2011 season unfolds. The Terrapins darn near played the role to perfection a week ago, putting a scare into the league’s other unbeaten member, Georgia Tech, before falling short, 21-16. It’s been a trying past month for first-year head coach Randy Edsall, whose lone win over that time frame came over Towson of the FCS.
Why Clemson Might Win: If you plan to beat the Tigers these days, you better be prepared to put up some points. That’s a challenge that’s going to vex Maryland. The Terps feature one of the ACC’s feeblest offenses, a unit that’s scored 23 points in its last two games against FBS opponents. How bad is the situation behind center? Danny O’Brien and C.J. Brown combined to go 5-of-23 for 53 yards and two picks against Georgia Tech, leaving Edsall undecided on who’ll get the ball this weekend. Things don’t get any easier this week versus a Clemson defense that’s been peaking of late. The Tigers have been stiffening in recent weeks around the pass of DE Andre Branch, whose league-high six sacks have started to turn heads in the NFL scouting community.
Why Maryland Might Win: The one area of potential vulnerability at Clemson has been the run defense. The Tigers are young and thin at linebacker, which has helped create wider running lanes at times this season. While it’s asking a lot, the Terps are going to need a momentous game from backs Davin Meggett and Justus Pickett. Heck, if Brown gets the nod from Edsall just prior to kickoff, he’ll be called to duty as well. The sophomore provided some late highlights a week ago, turning nine carries into 124 yards and a score. An improving Maryland defense just got done holding high-powered Georgia Tech to 21 points, its lowest output of the year.
What To Watch Out For: As long as Boyd is anything less than 100%, the coaching staff might opt to lessen his role somewhat this week. Hey, Clemson is still going to run its system, but keeping No. 10 healthy will be a priority. It could be a big night for the Tigers backs, especially with Maryland linebackers Kenny Tate and Demetrius Hartsfield still nursing injuries. Although Andre Ellington continues to be the go-to guy, there’ll be enough carries to ensure that rookies Mike Bellamy and D.J. Howard get a smattering of touches as well.
What Will Happen: The only way Clemson loses this weekend is if it completely takes its eye off the ball. Head coach Dabo Swinney and the rest of the staff will make sure that doesn’t happen. Maryland, much like Boston College last Saturday, simply isn’t executing well enough to beat a ranked team these days. The offense is in disarray, meaning any deficit will appear insurmountable. Leaning just a tad more on the running attack, the Tigers will jump out to a double-digit lead before going to the break, and coast in the second half to their seventh straight win to begin the season.
CFN Prediction: Clemson 31 … Maryland 14
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