Clemson faced some adversity for the first time in a month Saturday night at Boston College and handled it just fine.
There were no defensive linemen scoring touchdowns, and Clemson didn’t come close to scoring the 60 points it had averaged over the past four weeks. But the Tigers did plenty enough to earn the win, pulling away for a 27-7 victory at a cold and windy Alumni Stadium.
With the win Clemson clinched a fourth consecutive ACC Atlantic title and a spot in the ACC Championship game. The Tigers can win their fourth consecutive conference title Dec. 1 in Charlotte.
“Just really proud of our guys, the preparation that we had,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said. “Just a tough, hard-fought game. I knew it would be coming up here. BC has got a heck of a football team.”
Clemson was dominant in the first half but it did not show on the scoreboard as the Tigers outgained BC 260-24 in the opening two quarters but led only 13-7 at the break. They trailed for only the third game this season for a short time in the first quarter when Michael Walker returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown to give the Eagles a 7-3 lead.
Clemson regained the lead for good a few minutes later when the Tigers brought in Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins for the jumbo package on fourth-and-goal from the 2 and Trevor Lawrence found Milan Richard for a touchdown in play action.
The defense sold out to stop the run with Wilkins and Lawrence and Richard was wide open.
“I know I’ve got special talents with my running ability,” Wilkins joked. “I’m definitely happy we scored on that play even though I was the decoy on that one.”
Boston College, which was without its starting quarterback Anthony Brown for most of the game, could get nothing going offensively. Brown was injured on the first drive of the game, and the Eagles finished with only 113 total yards.
ACC Preseason Player of the Year AJ Dillon was held to 39 yards on 16 carries.
“I’m really proud of our defense. I’m giving credit to that d-line. Again, we had great prep. We tackled well, and Dillon is... man, he’s a 250-pound man coming downhill, and we were able to hold him in check,” Swinney said. “That was big for us.
Lawrence finished 29-for-40 passing for 295 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for a score. Hunter Renfrow was his favorite target, hauling in eight passes for 80 yards.
Amari Rodgers added five catches for 73 yards and also returned a punt for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to give the Tigers a 27-7 lead and put the game out of reach.
“Just trying to get better every week. I feel like I’m doing that. I feel like the team’s doing that,” Lawrence said. “We’re just all gelling together. Our o-line’s been playing well so obviously I really appreciate that. It’s just as a team we’re playing well right now.”
Star of the game: Rodgers continues to be a weapon at receiver and in the return game and has gotten better and better as the year has gone along. The sophomore has 14 catches for 241 yards over the past three games.
Play of the game: Clemson defensive tackles Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence have gotten so much respect from opposing defenses that when the two came in the game for the jumbo package at the 2-yard line in the first quarter the play-action pass worked as Trevor Lawrence found Milan Richard for a touchdown on fourth down.
Stat of the game: (9) Boston College finished with only nine rushing yards, and star running back AJ Dillon was held to 39 yards on 16 carries.
Clemson owns the ACC: The Tigers clinched their fourth consecutive division crown on Saturday and their seven ACC wins have come by an average of 36.6 points per game.
Renfrow fits in well in Boston: There have been jokes made for years about Hunter Renfrow belonging on the Patriots, and the senior had his best game of the year with eight catches for 80 yards with Patriots owner Robert Kraft in attendance.
Trevor Lawrence doesn’t mind the cold: The freshman from Georgia appeared more than comfortable in the chilly elements as Lawrence continues to impress
Who: Clemson vs. Duke
When: Saturday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m.
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson
HOW THEY SCORED
CLE: FG Huegel 30, 12:12
BC: Walker 74 punt return (Lichtenberg kick), 6:22
CLE: Richard 2 pass from T.Lawrence (Huegel kick), 1:28
CLE: FG Huegel 23, 11:45
CLE: T.Lawrence 6 run (Huegel kick), 11:56
CLE: Rodgers 58 punt return (Huegel kick), 11:39
Time of Possession
RUSHING: Clemson, Etienne 11-78, Choice 4-19, Dixon 3-18, T.Lawrence 9-9, Feaster 3-5, Overton 0-0. Boston, Dillon 16-39, Perry 12-7, Levy 1-5, White 2-(minus 3), J.Smith 1-(minus 7), (Team) 1-(minus 32).
PASSING: Clemson, T.Lawrence 29-40-1-295, (Team) 0-1-0-0. Boston, A.Brown 2-3-0-6, Perry 12-21-0-98.
RECEIVING: Clemson, H.Renfrow 8-80, Rodgers 5-73, Higgins 4-63, Ross 3-19, Etienne 3-9, Thompson 2-13, Kendrick 1-32, Overton 1-16, Richard 1-2, T.Lawrence 1-(minus 12). Boston, White 4-65, Levy 3-11, Idrizi 2-12, Sweeney 2-7, Glines 1-8, Lewis 1-2, Dillon 1-(minus 1).
MISSED FIELD GOALS: None.