Clemson defeats Auburn in the clash of the Tigers! Although perhaps not their prettiest performance in recent memory, the Clemson Tigers defeated the Auburn Tigers on Saturday night by a score of 14-6. The victory marks Clemson’s fourth straight victory over Auburn in their historic rivalry.
It was Clemson’s defense that carried the team to victory on Saturday. Despite controlling the clock early in the game, Auburn only managed 68 yards of total offense for the entire contest. Much was made of the matchup between Clemson’s front seven and the rushing attack of Auburn in the game preview. That rushing attack was hobbled by the absence of Kerryon Johnson. Kamryn Pettway, who played through a nagging injury, had the lion’s share of carries, but was effectively bottled up all night. The 74 yards he managed on the ground was mostly neutralized by the yardage lost thanks to Clemson’s 11 sacks and 14 tackles for loss. Austin Bryant had an eye-opening performance for Clemson, racking up a school record four sacks in the game. Indeed, Clemson’s front seven won this matchup, and the defense was ultimately the key to victory.
The Auburn defense was formidable as well. They managed to hold a Clemson offense that accrued over 300 yards rushing last week to just 98 yards on the ground and only 264 yards total. Their effort just wasn’t enough on this evening, especially with Clemson’s defense playing almost flawlessly.
While the spotlight was on the defense for most of the game, all eyes were firmly on the quarterbacks prior to kickoff. Both Jarrett Stidham and Kelly Bryant met their first test as the starters for their respective teams. It was Bryant who passed with flying colors, while Stidham struggled against such a stout defense. Despite taking a nasty hit in the first half that left him almost motionless on the turf, Bryant returned to action quickly and led the offense in both the passing and rushing game. He finished the evening with 181 yards passing and another 59 yards on the ground. He accounted for all of Clemson’s offense for the evening with his two rushing touchdowns. On the other side, it’s hard to blame Stidham for his team’s loss. He made few mistakes when delivering the football and converted some key third downs. But the pressure from the opposing defense had Stidham running for his life most of the evening, especially in the second half. He finished with just 79 yards passing and no scores to speak of.
Up next for Clemson is conference rival Louisville on the road, while Auburn will look to bounce back in a big way against Mercer.