Records do not win championships, clutch plays do. Clemson set many records tonight, but they also ended many of their historic streaks. Pittsburgh made the clutch plays that champions make, and Clemson did not.

Chris Blewitt did not subject himself to become the object of obvious puns on national television, as he (barely) nailed a 48 yard field goal from the right hash with six seconds left to lift the Panthers over the Tigers.

Coach Swinney said that Pittsburgh was more of a 7-2 or 8-1 team that caught some bad breaks and ended up at 5-4, but that does not make this loss any less painful for the Clemson faithful. In fact, it may make it more painful. Losses early in the season hurt less than late ones, and losses to unranked teams looks worse than ranked losses.

For the optimist, the setbacks were just roadblocks to a win and all the problems would be cured at 7:30 PM. For the pessimist, the setbacks were omens of the impending loss that was waiting to happen. Either way, the Tigers did not escape their predator this time.

The omens started when Pittsburgh elected to receive – a move that was almost mandatory ten years ago but now is only done by the confident or delusional.

They weren’t delusional – a 44 yard pass on the second play of the game from Nathan Peterman set the stage for a touchdown shovel three plays later and was the first of a historic night for Nathan Peterman.

Another missed omen happened when a Wayne Gallman one yard score was thought to be a fumble that was returned for 100 yards and a score by Jordan Whitehead (chased by Deshaun Watson), until the referees overturned it in what seemed to be the only good call of the night. For reference, the score was given to Gallman and the Tigers, making it 14-14 at the end of the first rather than 21-7 Pitt.

Nathan Peterman threw for 308 yards and five touchdowns with no turnovers against the vaunted Clemson Tiger defense. While it was an excellent performance, most of the big plays and scores came off of short shovel option passes or a couple of busted plays by the Clemson defense.

Still, he did more than enough to lead his team to a victory in one of the toughest stadiums to play at in the nation.

2014 ACC Player of the Year and leukemia survivor James Conner is more than a feel good story, he is a dynamic force to be reckoned with. He rushed 20 times for 132 yards and two scores while tallying three catches for 57 yards, including a 46-yard score on a wheel route.

Pittsburgh scored 14 points against the Tigers defense in the first quarter, while the previous eight opponents had scored six points and no touchdowns before today.

The Tigers also failed to score a single point in the fourth quarter after scoring two touchdowns in the preceding three quarters. Pittsburgh scored nine points in the fourth quarter to edge out Clemson.

Pittsburgh won the rushing battle, and it wasn’t even close. They technically had 156 yards rushing on 33 attempts (for 4.7 a rush), but many of the “passes” were just shovel options that were basically runs (akin to a jet toss instead of a jet sweep).

Using the eye test, Clemson’s defensive line played reasonably well against the run and the pass, despite the rushing disparity and only having two sacks for eight yards. Pittsburgh had only allowed six sacks before today, and Clemson was just a beat away from sacking him even more.

Clemson’s linebackers struggled with the shovel pass, as Pitt OC Matt Canada managed to use the Tigers’ aggression against them – a task that everyone has tried to do but few have managed thus far.

The linebackers were exposed in pass coverage and run discipline as Canada frustrated them all night long. The most notable example was when Ben Boulware jumped early on a 55 yard touchdown pass to Orndoff from Peterman in the second quarter.

Clemson’s rushing game was anemic, as they rushed for 50 yards on 25 attempts. There were three rushing touchdowns, as Wayne Gallman had three one yard rushes for scores. Watson was a nonfactor in the rushing game as he ran for 16 yards on five attempts.

Right tackle Jake Fruhmorgen is out with a personal (non disciplinary) issue, while left tackle Mitch Hyatt left the first series of the game, but came back later in the game. The team had to rotate players such as Tremayne Anchrum and Taylor Hearn at left tackle, furthering the running woes.

The pass protection was adequate, and Watson took advantage of this to have a career statistical game. He was 52 for 70 (a Clemson record) for 580 yards (an ACC record), and threw for three scores while throwing for three picks. Two of the picks were in the end zone, including the disastrous last pick that signified Clemson’s inability to put the game away.

While it is completely fair to blast Watson for falling for baited interceptions that NFL scouts will cringe at, it is also inaccurate to only look at three passes and say that he played terribly. While he did not play as good as the box score suggested, he single handedly moved the Clemson offense up and down the field with the use of his bruised arm.

One trait that stood out today was his excellent ability to extend the play in and out of the pocket, avoiding sacks and either scrambling or throwing it to an open player. While he has excelled at this for the past two years, he kept Clemson’s offense alive and in the game with his escape tactics that only Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech quarterback) can top.

The Pittsburgh secondary is among the worst in the nation, but that doesn’t take too much away from the incredible day that Watson and his receiving corps had.

Mike Williams caught 15 passes for 202 yards and a score, and he seemed to answer questions about his traits for NFL scouts with every tough and athletic catch that he made. He did not set Clemson records however because Sammy Watkins caught 16 passes for x yards in Clemson’s 2014 Orange Bowl win over Ohio State.

Artavis Scott was victim of a called back score and a pushed-out-at-the-one-yard-line catch, but he ended up having a career day with 13 catches for 125 yards and a score.

Hunter Renfrow had a solid day (7 for 77); while Ray Ray McCloud and Wayne Gallman each had four catches for 26 and ten yards respectively.

Jordan Leggett caught six passes for 95 yards as the mismatch making tight end was an excellent but underlooked target for Watson.

Deon Cain had three catches for 45 yards and a score (on a fly route beating a corner with safety help), and he also was open for several more huge throws that Watson overthrew.

On special teams, the Tigers blocked a Blewitt extra point and field goal in the first half, which lead to the failed two point conversion (when the Panthers made the score 42-40).

While this was not the cause for the loss, it would be remiss to not talk about the ACC officials. This was considered to be one of the worst officiated games in a long time by fans of both teams, and the officials were booed after every single play for most of the third quarter.

There were highly questionable pass interferences as well another questionable roughing call on Ben Boulware, and it looked as if the referees were going to be chased out of the stadium for a while. The Panthers had three penalties for 40 yards while the Tigers had nine penalties for 101 yards.

Statistics can look nice and pretty, but Pittsburgh came up with the big plays and the Tigers didn’t. The Tigers failed to convert on third and one, and then fourth and one with the jumbo package with a minute left that gave Pittsburgh the ball back at their 35 yard line.

The Tigers didn’t make championship plays, the Panthers did. Luckily for Clemson, they can still achieve three goals in three weeks (divison, state, conference). If they win, they will need to pray that the committee continues its favorable trend towards one loss conference champions (with a championship win) and gives the Tigers a seed in the playoffs.

That is out of the Tigers control. All the Tigers can control is how they play next week at Wake Forest. And in Dabo Swinney fashion, Wake Forest is the most important game of the year, just as Pittsburgh was this week.