Clemson leads Auburn 7-6 on a beautiful day marred by anemic offenses that come alive in spurts.
Auburn wasted two time outs five minutes into the first half on a slow opening drive that took almost eight minutes off the clock. The second time out happened when Auburn changed their mind about kicking a field goal and converted a 4th and 1 in the red zone. Fortunately for Clemson, the defense forced Auburn into a 4th and 1 on the one-yard line. The crowd then assisted the Tigers by causing a delay of game that forced Auburn to settle for a short field goal. For the second time in eighteen games Clemson allowed a score on the opening drive.
Auburn’s second drive was stalled on a trademark Gus Malzahn reverse flea flicker pass that resulted in an intentional grounding call.
The Clemson secondary drew two pass interference penalties in the first quarter, but they later adjusted to running with the receivers and playing the ball as opposed to playing the receiver.
The Ray Ray McCloud fumble on the 11 was a close call, but because it was called a fumble on the field there was not indisputable video evidence to overturn the call.
Clemson’s red zone defense stepped up once again to force Carlson to kick his second short field goal of the night. Auburn led the game 6-0 a minute into the second quarter.
After trading punts, Kelly Bryant exited the game with an unknown injury and was evaluated under the medical tent. Zerrick Cooper took over with 8:29 left in the half, but he couldn’t get the offense a spark either.
Huegel missed a 46-yard field goal to the left and the score remained 6-0 Auburn with 6:47 left in the second.
Kelly Bryant came back in the game the next series and lofted up a catch to Deon Cain that he made despite the pass interference from Carlton Davis.
With Bryant’s confidence rising, Clemson marched down the field as Hunter Renfrow caught three quick strikes, and Ray Ray McCloud caught a 29-yard ball on a deep route.
The twelve play, 88-yard drive was capped off by a three yard run by Kelly Bryant, giving Clemson a 7-6 lead with less than a minute until halftime.
Both teams looked inept offensively for much of the half, but Clemson got in a rhythm offensively to end the half with the lead and the momentum.
Clemson needs to go into the second half on attack mode while Auburn needs to improve their game management and offensive play calling.