Pitt’s offensive game plan: The Panthers did a masterful job of confusing Clemson’s defense and used the shovel pass for big gains, especially in the first half. Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said Pitt used formations Clemson hadn’t seen on film.
Clemson WR Mike Williams: Pitt covered the star receiver one-on-one on several occasions and Williams consistently made the Panthers pay with a career high 15 catches and 202 receiving yards.
Pitt RB James Conner: The cancer survivor rushed for 132 tough yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 57 yards and another score.
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Clemson DL Dexter Lawrence: The freshman made six tackles, recovered a fumble and blocked a field goal. He was a bright spot on a tough day for the Clemson defense.
Red-zone ball security: Deshaun Watson had a stellar day, but threw two critical interceptions in the end zone, including one that kept Pitt’s hopes alive.
Clemson’s run blocking: The Tigers managed only 50 rushing yards on 25 carries, forcing Watson to shoulder the load.
Clemson’s first half defense: The Panthers had 356 yards and 27 points at halftime. Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman threw four touchdownsin the first half.
Pitt’s pass defense: Yes the Panthers recorded three interceptions, but they also allowed an ACC record 580 passing yards. Pitt played man-to-man for much of the game and Clemson’s receivers had their way with the Panthers’ secondary.