Clemson squared off in perhaps one of their toughest ACC games of the season Saturday, and of course the unthinkable happened: down to two able quarterbacks due to the impending transfer of demoted starter Kelly Bryant, freshman Trevor Lawrence scrambled left and ran headlong into an Orangeman defender, suffering concussion like symptoms. Lawrence was done for the day.
Dabo had no option except to hand the reigns of the offense to redshirt freshman Will Brice from Grayson High. After some early jitters Brice settled down and led the Tigers back, completing a key fourth down pass, scrambling right for another big gain, before finally handing off to Travis Etienne for the game-winning touchdown with 41 seconds remaining in the game.
Then the vaunted Clemson defense rose to the occasion one last time, effectively shutting down Syracuse’s final comeback attempt. Ageless wonder Hunter Renfrow was his steady self, grabbing several key passes, including one sideways Calvin Johnson-like catch. The pictures don’t do it justice. An exciting, big win for Clemson.
During the game veteran announcers Sean McDonough and Todd Blackledge (who quarterbacked Penn State to a national championship) questioned Bryant’s decision to transfer from Clemson, calling the move selfish on Bryant’s part. Later during the GA/Tenn game veteran announcers Brad Nessler and Gary Danielson (another former QB) discussed how Bryant had turned his back on his teammates. The Clemson team motto is “All In”, which Mr. Bryant was most definitely not.
Judas Iscariot. Benedict Arnold. Kelly Bryant. Would’ve been good to hear what the ESPN College Game Day crew had to say about him. Bryant transferring only helps Alabama by weakening Clemson. Helps next year by weakening whatever team he transfers to. Wish he would come to Tech. He’d set rushing and passing records.
Contrastingly, the QB battles at Alabama and Georgia are much more mature. Jalen Hurts bides his time on the sidelines in Tuscaloosa, burning a possible redshirt season by playing in the fifth game on Saturday, firing an impressive touchdown pass. In Athens, suddenly not so effective starter Jake Fromm was replaced during key moments by freshman Justin Fields, who rallied the Dawgs with two touchdown runs. At neither school (or at Georgia Tech) none of the QB’s complained or threatened to transfer.
On the Flats the Yellow Jackets rolled to an easy win against Bowling Green, 63-17. Starting QB TaQuon Marshall finally showed some passing chops against the woeful Falcons (1-4), completing five of six passes for 160 yards, laying in one pass particularly well. Marshall also gained 42 yards on 13 carries. Backup QB Tobias Oliver only threw one pass, but was Tech’s leading rusher with 115 yards on only seven carries. Both QB’s had two TD runs.
Tech only punted once, but sophomore Pressley Harvin III boomed it 53 yards. Freshman UGA punter Jake Camarda punted four times for a 41.0 yard average, even after punting a couple out of bounds. Tennessee, who has a long history of great punters, averaged 47.1 yards on seven Joe Doyle punts.
Georgia pulled away late to beat Tennessee 38-12. The “ineffective” Fromm was 16 of 22 for 185 yards. Fields rushed for 45 yards on five carries, and Holyfield, Swift, and Herrien combined for 204 yards and two touchdowns: Herschel-like numbers. Speaking of, the great one was honored before the game. Herschel grabbed the microphone and led the GEORGIA! BULLDOGS! cheers. Peyton Manning was also on the sidelines. When reminded that Kirby Smart had intercepted two of his passes, Peyton reminded the sideline reporter that he went 4-0 against Georgia.
Ricardo Blankenship booted one of the most amazing point afters in history. When the holder dropped the ball, Blankenship stopped with his feet right beside holder Camarda. The holder recovered the ball and placed it down right in front of the great goggled one. Ricardo took a step back with his left foot, then in the same motion did a little hop, swinging his right leg and booting the ball just over the upright. I’ll have to watch the replay again, but surely Tennessee had quit on the play, incorrectly assuming the ball had already been kicked.
Bama rolled 56-14 over cupcake Louisiana Lafayette. Score by quarters: 28-0, 49-0, 56-0, and 56-14. Tua was 8/8 for 128 yards and 2 TDs, and Hurts was 4/6 for 118 yards and one TD. Bama did not punt.
No surprise: Ohio State beat over-rated Penn State in Happy Valley.
The Falcons aren’t really worth mentioning. They did wear their lovely throwback uniforms (more on those later this week). Their offense was clicking but struggling on defense due to all the injuries. Hard to replace Pro Bowlers with free agents who had been cut by other teams. The secondary dropped two possible interceptions in the fourth quarter (or was it three). Hold on to either one and the Falcons would’ve won.
Celebrating their 100th season, the Packers wore their old school throwbacks. Some don’t like them, but I think they’re a nice change.
New York Giant receiver Odel Beckham threw a Serena-like hissy fit on the sidelines. Look for him to be on next week's Sports Illustrated cover, and the focus of Nike's next marketing campaign.
Sony Michel scored his first NFL touchdown for the Patriots. Nick Chubb scored his first for the Browns.