Under heavy scrutiny since the start of last season, No. 5 Clemson’s offense led to a 51-45 win against No. 16 Wake Forest that may represent a major turning point as the Tigers try to return to the top of the ACC and the College Football Playoff. Final.
The face of Clemson’s struggles on offense, junior quarterback DJ Uiagalelei threw for 371 yards and five touchdowns to pace Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman, who finished with 337 yards and a school-record six scores.
Asked to lead the Tigers to a must-win victory, this offense delivered a second 500-yard game in a row – doing so for the first time since 2020 – and a resounding answer to the questions and doubts that gathered from more than. a year
Uiagalelei’s performance was his best since his freshman year, when he had two outstanding starts as the replacement for an injured Trevor Lawrence. Sophomore running back Will Shipley ran for 104 rushing yards and a touchdown, his seventh.
Talk about a change in the conversation: Clemson may now face more problems on defense than on offense after failing to keep Hartman and the Demon Deacons under wraps.
SWEET VICTORY:Clemson earned its bench with a wild defeat of Wake Forest
TOP 25 ROUNDS:Scores and results from the biggest games in Week 4
An inexperienced and thin secondary is the Tigers’ weakest link after giving up at least 250 passing yards for the third game in a row. Wake is the third team to throw at least four touchdowns without an interception against Dabo Swinney-coached Clemson and the second with six scores, joining Ohio State in the 2021 Sugar Bowl.
Even a defensive front loaded with talent was largely held in check by Wake’s veteran offensive line, though that group stepped up late in the fourth quarter and in overtime.
Clemson faces No. 11 North Carolina State next week, which has a potent passing game of its own behind quarterback Devin Leary. If the offense puts together another strong performance and the defense rebounds against an elite opponent, the Tigers will have earned a spot among the top four teams in the country.
Clemson, Wake Forest and others make the cut for this week’s list of winners and losers:
This is a team and program on the rise quickly in the SEC East. No. 12 Tennessee reversed years of futility in the rivalry and beat No. 22 Florida 38-33, putting even more wind in the Volunteers’ sails in what’s shaping up to be an explosive second season under coach Josh Heupel. His work with Hendon Hooker is what really stands out: After failing to get going at Virginia Tech, he’s thrown 39 touchdowns and just three interceptions since arriving in Knoxville, including 349 yards and two scores against the Gators. Tennessee has topped Florida just once since 2005.
The best story in college football continues: Kansas stayed undefeated by beating Duke 35-27 behind another red Saturday from quarterback Jalon Daniels, who played his way into early Heisman Trophy contention. Daniel completed 19 of 23 throws for 324 yards, ran for a team-leading 83 yards and had five touchdowns, giving him 15 scores and just one turnover on the year. Picked to improve in coach Lance Leipold’s second year but still outscoring about four wins, the Jayhawks are now headed for bowl eligibility and Leipold is becoming one of the hottest coaches on the market.
Facing very early elimination from the SEC and a playoff race, A&M salvaged a passable September by barely sneaking past No. 10 Arkansas 23-21. It was easy to imagine what would have happened with a second loss, starting with louder calls for Jimbo Fisher to hand over play-calling duties for his surge offense. While the offense is still in neutral, the Aggies were sparked by a turnover at quarterback Max Johnson, who protected the football well and made plays with his legs. A&M also has one of the top backs in the SEC in Devon Achane, who had 159 yards against the Razorbacks’ tough defense.
The Fighting Irish are starting to right the ship after a rough start under coach Marcus Freeman. Like Clemson, a stumbling offense sparked a key victory: Notre Dame gained 576 yards, 287 on the ground, and beat North Carolina 45-32 for a second win in a row after losing to Ohio State and Marshall to open the year. Behind a great game plan by coordinator Tommy Rees, quarterback Drew Pyne threw for 289 yards and three scores.
Beating previously unbeaten Iowa State 31-24 affirms No. 17 Baylor’s place among the top teams in the Big 12 and brings some clarity to the conference race heading into October. The win also saw a rebound from first-year starting quarterback Blake Shapen, who struggled in the Bears’ loss to No. 23 Brigham Young and last week’s win against Texas State but hit 19 of 26 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns against the. Cyclones. ISU came into Saturday allowing quarterbacks to complete just 51.4% of their throws and give up just 5.2 yards per attempt.
Forget Kansas. Is James Madison the success story of the season? In the program’s first year in the Bowl Subdivision, the longtime Championship Subdivision power went unbeaten by scoring the final 29 points of the game to shock Appalachian State on the road 32-28. Once down 28-3, the Dukes gained some momentum with a 75-yard scoring drive near the end of the second quarter and then scored twice on a short field in the second half to pull off a major Group of Five upset.
Mario Cristobal’s honeymoon is over, and fast. After losing a winnable game to Texas A&M last Saturday, No. 25 Miami suffered a 45-31 loss to Middle Tennessee that confirms the Hurricanes’ place among the biggest disappointments in the Bowl Subdivision. With his team already relegated to non-factor status, Cristobal must deal with another major situation early in his first year: Tyler Van Dyke was pulled in the third quarter after completing only half of his throws with two interceptions. That he took a step back after a tremendous freshman season reflects poorly on the new staff.
The Razorbacks missed an emotional, come-from-behind win by inches. Down 23-21 with less than two minutes left, Arkansas lined up for a 42-yard field goal by sophomore Cam Little, one of the best young kickers in the country. But Little’s kick was pushed to the right and barely hit near the top of the right upright before bouncing back into the end zone. The loss takes some juice out of next weekend’s matchup with No. 1 Alabama.
Steve Sarkisian can relate to Cristobal’s roar from debut. His was even worse: Texas failed to reach a bowl game in one of the worst seasons in recent program history. How much better are things in Sarkisian’s second year? The No. 19 Longhorns lost 37-34 in overtime at Texas Tech, undone by a series of mistakes in regulation and a crucial fumble in overtime by star running back Bijan Robinson, and clearly failed to build on this month’s morale loss to Alabama. Instead of competing for a spot in the New Year’s Six, the Longhorns seem like an afterthought in the Big 12.
After tapping into the transfer portal to fuel an unexpectedly successful 2021 season, Mel Tucker clearly failed to pull off another rebuild and keep Michigan State in the mix for a New Year’s Six bowl. Pushed last weekend by Washington, the Spartans were humbled in a 34-7 loss to Minnesota that should give the Gophers some Top 25 consideration.
Count this among the worst losses of the season: Missouri missed a 26-yard field goal as time expired in regulation and then fumbled away the likely game-winning touchdown in the first overtime to lose 17-14 to an Auburn team seemingly playing the. rope under embattled coach Bryan Harsin. Instead, the nature of the ugly loss will put Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz on a hot seat as the Tigers head to a losing end.
Worst team in the country? At least Massachusetts, Hawaii, Florida International and New Mexico State have company near the bottom. Handed a miserable situation by his predecessor, new Colorado State coach Jay Norvell will clearly need some time to bring the Rams back to respectability after a 41-10 loss at home to Sacramento State.