Clemson beats another defending champ

The Clemson Tigers entered Saturday’s game against the Auburn Tigers coming off an unimpressive eight-point home win last week over Wofford in a game the Tigers trailed in the second half.

Clemson also entered the game having lost its previous 14 meetings against Auburn. Auburn, on the other hand, entered the game on a 17-game overall win streak, the longest active streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

However, Clemson did have one streak on its side. In the major poll era, dating back to 1936, this was the third time Clemson had hosted the previous season’s national champion. In each of the previous two meetings, Clemson came out on top, being Georgia Tech by two points in 1991 and Georgia by 10 in 1981.

Clemson Tigers at Home
vs Previous Season's National Champion

That streak held true as Clemson again beat the defending national champion, taking down 21st-ranked Auburn, 38-24.

It’s Clemson’s first win over Auburn since November 24, 1951, when Roy Campanella had just won the National League’s MVP, Tony Bennett’s “Cold, Cold Heart” topped the charts and former Yankees shortstop and Red Sox heartbreaker Bucky Dent was a day away from being born.

Clemson gained 624 yards in the win, the most the team has ever had against an SEC opponent. Sophomore quarterback Tajh Boyd led the effort for Clemson, with career-high marks of 386 pass yards and four passing touchdowns.

The 386 pass yards is the second-most in a single game in Clemson history, trailing only Charlie Whitehurst’s 420-yard game in a 2002 win over Duke. Boyd also completed 30 passes, the fourth-most in a single game in school history.

Longest Active FBS Win Streaks

Boyd now has 10 touchdown passes and just a single interception this season, putting him on pace to break Cullen Harper’s school record for most pass touchdowns in a season. Harper threw for 27 touchdowns in 2007.

Auburn led 14-0 after the first quarter, drawing comparisons to last year’s game. In that game, Clemson led 17-0 in the second quarter, but Auburn clawed their way back to win 27-24 in overtime on their way to a National Championship.

We’ll find out pretty quickly if Clemson can replicate Auburn’s run to a title, as its next two games are against ranked teams, taking on the fifth-ranked Florida State Seminoles next week, and then 13th-ranked Virginia Tech the following week.