Clemson’s identity, if it has one this year, involves making some shockingly crippling mistakes, and while you never know what whims may apply on a given Saturday, it was nice to see that version of the Tigers show up one more time. I’d feel bad for Dabo Swinney if I actually liked the guy.
NC State basically took what Duke did to it and rode that same flukishness to victory: sometimes it only takes a few big plays, if you put them in exactly the right spots, in order to win. The Wolfpack managed just 202 yards of offense, and 122 of them came on two Kevin Concepcion touches—a 50-yard run that set up his own touchdown shortly thereafter, and the 72-yard score following a missed tackle on a little in route.
What’s funny about that pass play, too, is that Clemson is clearly playing the run and conceding that first-down pass if that’s where the Pack chooses to go; Clemson’s corner knows he has no help over the top and isn’t even trying to disrupt that route, but he ends up giving too much cushion, and, well, whoops. Whoopsie doodles! Oopsie daisy!
In between Concepcion TDs was Payton Wilson’s pick-six that saw him in the right place at the right time on a Cade Klubnik pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage.
Sometimes three big plays are all you need. In the past, Clemson could rely on its talent advantage to overcome mistakes—this year, not so much.