Kelly Bryant, given the unenviable task of replacing Deshaun Watson as Clemson's quarterback this season, lay on the field after being driven into the turf by Auburn defensive lineman Dontavius Russell - all 310 pounds of him. CB Carlton Davis led Auburn with 11 tackles and also broke up two passes. Clemson held off Auburn, 14-6, to clear the first big hurdle in its national championship defense and move to 2-0 in advance of a showdown with Heisman Trophy frontrunner Lamar Jackson and Louisville at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium next week.
"This was a very disappointing loss", Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. Three of his worst four team outputs, however, have happened in the last five games. And while Clemson made a stake as the best team in the ACC after a big nonconference win, while they got a nice nonconference win over No. 13 Auburn, Bryant's heart should be worth a lot more to Clemson as 2017 wears on. "But right now, we didn't get it done".
Kamryn Pettway is a bruising, powerful sledgehammer of a running back who can bust big plays and plow over defensive backs when he gets space to run. They held Auburn to two first-half field goals until the offense caught up.
Malzahn credited the struggles to Auburn's inability to run the football effectively, which put it in a number of obvious passing situations.
Today's Auburn vs. Clemson game doesn't match the hype of last week's "greatest season opener of all time" between Florida State and Alabama, but it is a compelling No. 13 vs.
Daniel Carlson gave Auburn its six points off a pair of field goals - 24 and 28 yard attempts. Additionally, Venables' group recorded 11 sacks, 14 tackles for a loss, allowed only 38 rushing yards and only one of Auburn's 12 drives went longer than 25 yards.
On a night when defense ruled, Bryant provided Clemson with just enough offensive spark for the Tigers to improve to 2-0 heading into next Saturday's game at No. 17 Louisville.
Clemson's first drive of the game stalled after gaining one first down - Bryant found Hunter Renfrow on the first play of the drive for a 9-yard gain, and picked up the first down on the next play on a C.J. Fuller 5-yard carry. He scored on a 3-yard run. Jarrett Stidham was unable to get anything going down the field. "Nate is a good player". We played with a lot of guys going to the ball every single play. He ran for 1,200 yards and seven scores previous year, so there are better games coming.
"This has nothing to do with me or coach Steele, " Swinney said of the matchup. "[Clemson] played their butts off just like everybody else". "We just didn't execute".
Auburn can cement that fact with a road win tonight, a feat that might be more impressive given that it's a true road game for the Tigers.
Auburn had several chances to score in the second half, forcing a Clemson fumble in the third quarter, and four consecutive Clemson punts. While the broadcasters spoke about Auburn throwing effectively on first down, when Clemson would be focused on the run, that didn't actually happen very often.