CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- C.J. Spiller threw the first touchdown pass of his career and Clemson scored all its points after Virginia turnovers Saturday in a 13-3 victory.
The Tigers (6-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) used two interceptions and a fumble recovery to get the first of two victories they need to qualify for a bowl game. They'll have to win again next week at home against rival South Carolina to reach the postseason because two of their victories came against Football Championship Subdivision teams.
Virginia (5-6, 3-4) lost its third in a row after a four-game winning streak put it in the race for the ACC's Coastal Division title. The loss left the Cavaliers needing to win next weekend at Virginia Tech to qualify for a bowl.
The Tigers led 10-3 at halftime, added a late field goal and a third interception with 1:58 remaining, ending the Cavaliers' comeback hopes and sending frigid fans streaming to the exits. The temperature at game time, 35 degrees, was the coldest at Virginia in 42 years.
On Virginia's next possession, Verica hit Rashawn Jackson with a short pass and Byron Maxwell hammered him. The ball popped free and Jock McKissic recovered for the Tigers near midfield. Eight plays later, Mark Buchholz kicked a 32-yard field goal to make it 10-0.
Virginia had a first-and-goal at the 9 on its next possession after driving 60 yards. But it lost eight yards on its next three plays, and Robert Randolph kicked a 34-yard field goal.
That was all the scoring until late in the fourth quarter, as Virginia's defense neutralized the Tigers' vaunted running game, but its offense never got anything going.
The game appeared to turn late in the third quarter when Clemson botched the snap on a third-and-4 from Virginia's 23 and Vic Hall recovered for the Cavaliers at their 47.
On the next play, Verica hit Kevin Ogletree down the left sideline with Sadat Chambers in one-on-one coverage for an apparent tying touchdown, but the officials flagged him for offensive pass interference. Replays suggested any contact on the play was incidental.
Three plays later, Virginia was forced to punt, its offensive woes continuing.
The Cavaliers drove to the Tigers 27 on their next possession and went for it on fourth-and-1, but Maxwell wasn't fooled and tackled Cedric Peerman for a 5-yard loss.
After another three-and-out for the Tigers, Verica tried to hit Jared Green deep downfield, and Crezdon Butler intercepted and returned it 31 yards to Virginia's 36, setting up Buchholz's second field goal of the game that produced the final score.
What college football coaches learned from the pandemic last year
The pandemic forced coaches to think creatively, and some of their quick fixes, like virtual visits for recruits, turned out to be a mainstay.
Sportsbook installs Alabama, Clemson with highest college football win totals at 11.5
Alabama and Clemson both were installed with season win totals of 11.5 by Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill, which posted totals for each FBS team Thursday.
Win totals for the 2021 college football season
Clemson and Alabama have the highest season win totals for the upcoming college football season at 11.5. Here's a look at the totals for the FBS.
Everything you need to know about the NCAA's NIL debate
With the athletes, the NCAA, legislators and the courts all still involved, expect more twists and turns in the name, image and likeness debate. Check back here for all the latest news.
Miami, Auburn agree to home-and-home series
Miami and Auburn will play a home-and-home series in 2029 and 2030,
Haskins: 'Not surprised' he was released from Washington
Steelers QB Dwayne Haskins speaks to the media about his time with Washington and his experience so far in Pittsburgh.