Back when I was a kid, my parents bought me NCAA Football 06 for my 14th birthday. This game had a new mode in it called ‘Race For the Heisman’ where you would create a player, select whatever school you wished to attend, and then proceed to live out a college career with the goal of winning the Heisman and living out the greatest career ever. Back when I was fourteen, I had zero interest in being challenged. My plan was to run over every single defense I went up against and I’d be damned if I was going to let a higher difficulty get in my way. So, armed with a 6’5, 220 lb QB, maxed out ratings, and the easiest setting available in the game, I proceeded to throw for roughly 500 yards per game with ease, making every defense look like a high school team in comparison.
This is what Clemson QB Tajh Boyd reminded me of today.
Clemson defeated Duke 56-20. It was an embarrassing performance by Duke’s defense, specifically in the first half, where Clemson came very close to surpassing 500 yards of offense. Three minutes into the game, DeAndre Hopkins caught a touchdown pass from Boyd. Seven minutes into the game, DeAndre Hopkins caught a touchdown pass from Boyd. Ten minutes into the game, DeAndre Hopkins caught a touchdown pass from Boyd. Two other receivers would catch touchdown passes from Boyd. Boyd would selfishly rob a deserving receiver of a touchdown and run for a touchdown at one point. DJ Howard would take a hand-off from Boyd and run for a touchdown, as well. Somewhere in those stands, a Clemson fan sat with a Playstation controller, grinning beneath his stupid Orange hat as he scrolled through the settings and set the Duke defense to “Pee Wee Difficulty”.
The only redeemable factor of tonight’s game for the defense was that they forced four turnovers, all of which the offense failed to turn into points.
The offense posted 20 points and 342 yards, which is actually below the average offensive-output allowed by Clemson’s defense this season. Outside of the first quarter, Duke’s offense struggled to put together drives, the result of a running game that averaged 2.6 ypc and an inconsistent passing game.
The game started out as expected: a shootout that could possibly pass the 100-point mark, along with a couple of 300-yard performances from both quarterbacks. As Clemson scored on drive after drive, however, we all began to spout at a nervous laughter and a “Okay, this is funny, but seriously, defense, kick it into gear already” attitude. I mean, they couldn’t score on EVERY possession, right? RIGHT?!? They wouldn’t score on every possession, but by halftime it would be 42-17 and be very clear that Duke didn’t have much of a chance of winning.
On to the notes:
-Jamison Crowder is Duke’s Player of the Game, as he racked up 167 yards on 7 catches with a touchdown, including a 77-yard touchdown reception that brought the score to 14-10 early in the first quarter. In a game where everything was going wrong for Duke, Crowder was the one thing that went right.
-The defense’s biggest problem was giving up the big play. The following is a list of Clemson receivers and their longest catch of the day:
DeAndre Hopkins – 58 yards, Sammy Watkins – 30 yards, Martavis Bryant – 41 yards, Jaron Brown – 34 yards, Sam Cooper – 25 yards.
That is five receivers with at least one catch of twenty-five yards. In addition, all six Clemson players who ran the ball had a longest carry of at least fourteen yards (four of them had longest runs of 20+). Coach K could’ve put up at least one-hundred yards through the air or ground today.
-Duke has lost their last two games by a combined score of 104-27.
-That is a 77-point difference. Two games. 104 points.
-That is 52 points per game the last two games.
-With the loss, Duke falls to 3-3 in ACC competition. They are now a full game back of Miami. This is no reason to panic, however, since as long as Duke manages to defeat Georgia Tech in two weeks, they’ll play a winner-take-all game against the Hurricanes in the season finale. While the loss puts Duke back within reach of Virginia Tech again, I wouldn’t worry about the Hokies as they play a Florida State Seminoles team next week that will likely steamroll them.
-In case you didn’t remember: North Carolina, who is also ahead of Duke in the standings, is ineligible for postseason play, eliminating them from winning the ACC Coastal division.
-Duke has a much needed BYE week this week before traveling to take on Georgia Tech on Nov 17.
-104 POINTS IN TWO FREAKING GAMES