2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 8 - UNC at Clemson
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Oct. 22 at Clemson 59 … North Carolina 38
CFN Analysis: Oregon and Georgia Tech – when the Yellow Jacket offense is humming – might be in the running, but there isn’t a more fun team in America than Clemson. North Carolina got the home run needed at the end of the first half to get back in the game, but the Tiger offense came back roaring with Tajh Boyd finishing with five scoring passes and a one-yard run to take back control. The defense, though, was the bigger star with six takeaways from a team that doesn’t give the ball over, led by Kourtnei Brown’s dream day with a 20-yard pick six and a 26-yard fumble return. Everything keeps on clicking for a team that’s looking just good enough to be in the mix for the national championship, but is just shaky enough to still be just on the outside. The D might have come up with big plays, but it also gave them up, too, along with a special teams gaffe allowing kickoff return for a score just when it seemed like the game was about to be blown open. And then thanks to Boyd and Sammy Watkins, it was.
Bryn Renner picked the wrong time to start throwing interceptions. His first of three picks was a bad decision, forcing the ball into triple coverage, and he never seemed to find any sort of a rhythm, forcing the ball too much down the field instead of doing his normal dinking and dunking. Giovanni Bernard was never right, looking a step slow and now nearly as explosive as normal running for just 44 yards on 11 carries. The final score was ugly, and there was no hope of stopping Tajh Boyd, but the defense played better than the stats looked. It was put in a poor position time and again by an offense that couldn’t stop giving up the ball. With a winnable home game against Wake Forest up next, and with NC State and Duke still to play, there are still plenty of wins left on the schedule, but it would’ve been nice to have played tighter and better this week.
(AP) CLEMSON, S.C. -- Tajh Boyd tied a school record with five touchdown passes, defensive end Kourtnei Brown scored on interception and fumble returns and Clemson (No. 7 BCS, No. 8 AP) improved to 8-0 for the first time in 11 years with a 59-38 victory over North Carolina on Saturday.
The Tigers (5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) again put on an offensive display with 450 yards as Boyd matched Cullen Harper's 2007 mark on a day the school celebrated the 30th anniversary of its 1981 national champions.
Brown became the first Clemson defensive lineman to score a pair of touchdowns in one game in 57 years.
North Carolina (5-3, 1-3) turned the ball over six times and tailback Giovani Bernard was held to 44 yards, ending his streak of five consecutive games with 100 yards rushing.
DeAndre Hopkins had nine catches for a career-best 157 yards and standout freshman Sammy Watkins had eight receptions for 91 yards. Both also caught touchdowns from Boyd, who connected with five separate receivers in his record-tying performance.
But it took Brown's nose for the end zone to get the Tigers on track. They were ahead only 17-10 and had struggled to move the ball against North Carolina's defense when Brown took Bryn Renner's swing pass attempt 20 yards for the score to extend the lead.
The Tigers had already blown the game open when Brown scooped up Renner's fumble and took it 26 yards for a touchdown that made it 59-24, Clemson. It capped a 35-point third quarter, a feat that tied the 1981 team's second quarter output in an 82-24 beatdown of Wake Forest in that 12-0 season.
Opportunistic defense also was a trademark of those title winners -- they hold the school record by collecting 41 turnovers -- and, in this one, Brown lived up to the standard set by defensive stars Terry Kinard, Jeff Davis and William "Refrigerator" Perry 30 years back.
No Tiger defensive lineman had scored twice in a game since Walt Laraway had an interception and a blocked punt return for TDs against the Citadel in 1954.
Boyd was 27 of 46 passing for 367 yards, his fourth game this season over 300 yards.
The Tigers had hoped to pick up where they left off a week ago, after the offense dug itself out of an 18-point hole in the second half in a 56-45 victory at Maryland.
The Tar Heels defense -- third in the ACC in points allowed per game -- proved stingier than the Terps early on.
Linebacker Zach Brown had two drive-killing sacks of Boyd in the first quarter -- the Tigers had given up only 13 all season -- and then knocked down a ball in coverage that looked like it would lead to a Sammy Watkins TD catch.
North Carolina also stuffed Clemson's run game, limiting the Tigers to 15 yards on the ground the first two quarters.
The Tar Heels, though, couldn't figure things out on offense. They gave up three turnovers, though a pair of quick touchdowns by Jheranie Boyd that kept them in the game.
When Renner was bad, he looked awful. He was intercepted by Jonathan Meeks on North Carolina's first drive to set up a 37-yard field goal by Clemson's Chandler Catanzaro.
Renner gave the Tar Heels hope of a comeback after Kourtnei Brown's interception score when he connected with Jheranie Boyd on a 58-yard touchdown pass that cut the lead to 24-17 at the half. But the Tigers, perhaps inspired when they came out for the third quarter through two rows of the 1981 championship team, quickly put the game away.
Clemson tailback Andre Ellington, who rushed for 212 yards and two touchdowns against Maryland, was held to 7 yards rushing. He spent time on the sidelines as trainers examined his left foot opening half, but continued to play. Ellington had a foot injury that kept him out for most of the final five games of 2010.
North Carolina (5-2) at Clemson (7-0) Oct. 22, 12:00, ESPN
Here’s The Deal … Every magical season has at least one memorable comeback that preserves a perfect record. Clemson had its a week ago in College Park, Md. Trailing underdog Maryland by 18 points early in the third quarter, the Tigers charged back for a scintillating 56-45 victory. More than just moving the program to 7-0, the win left no doubts that this is a very different Clemson team than any in the last two decades. Debuting at No. 7 in the initial BCS standings, the Tigers return home with a little more appreciation for their unblemished mark.
North Carolina is coming off a tough loss, a 30-24 defeat to Miami in Chapel Hill that was a little more one-sided than the score indicates. The Tar Heels probably aren’t going to win the Coastal Division of the ACC, but would like to spend the final five weeks of the regular season improving their bowl positioning. It’ll be a particularly important stretch for Everett Withers, who’s hoping to convince his bosses to remove the interim part of his coaching title.
Why North Carolina Might Win: After watching the tape of last week’s Maryland game, the Tar Heels should know that they can move the ball liberally on the Clemson defense. Up-and-down all fall, the Tigers were throttled by the Terrapins for 468 total yards, including 162 on the ground from inexperienced QB C.J. Brown. Carolina will hit its host with a combination of RB Giovani Bernard between the tackles and QB Bryn Renner through the air.
Clemson has been particularly sporadic against the run, which should entice the Heels to feed Bernard 30 times behind a seasoned and physical line. With success on the ground will come a lethal hook-up of Renner to WR Dwight Jones on play-action passes.
Why Clemson Might Win: For all of the next-level amateurs Carolina has on defense, it’s not always reflected in the box score. Last week, for instance, the Heels were the first team to shut down RB Lamar Miller, but it was at the cost of giving up 267 yards and three touchdown passes to Jacory Harris. A mediocre Tar Heels secondary will certainly get exposed by QB Tajh Boyd and the 26th-ranked Clemson passing attack. Boyd showed no ill-effects from his prior week hip injury, tossing four touchdown passes in the come-from-behind win.
In TE Dwayne Allen and receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins, the sophomore has access to a dynamite collection of pass-catchers. Add in RB Andre Ellington, who rushed for a career-best 212 yards against the Terps, and it’s no wonder the Tigers are among the most potent teams in America.
What To Watch Out For: Hey, just because Carolina is confident about its ability to move the ball on Saturday does not mean it won’t have concerns, none bigger than No. 40, DE Andre Branch. The one Tiger who really has stood out this season, he leads the ACC with ten tackles for loss and seven sacks. He’ll need to impose his will now more than ever to help elevate the play of his teammates on the second and last lines of defense. If Clemson is going to remain among the ranks of the unbeaten, it cannot dish out an awful defensive effort the way it did in Week 7.
What Will Happen: Now that it’s had a scary close call, Clemson figures to operate with a new perspective down the stretch. If the Tigers were beginning to become overconfident, almost losing to Maryland should put an end to that notion. While always dangerous, North Carolina lacks the consistency on both sides of the ball needed to topple a top 10 team. Clemson will once again flex on defense, but compensate with its usual smattering of big plays from Boyd, Ellington, Watkins and Hopkins.
CFN Prediction: Clemson 35 … North Carolina 24
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