"There was definitely a lot of adversity, and being able to experience that adversity very early on in the season, we're fortunate for that". By four hours before game time, almost every parking space was filled and tailgating tents, big-screen televisions and generators were up-and-running.
The No. 13 Tigers (1-1) recorded 15 yards on 29 plays in the second half.
Pettway was perhaps the only positive for Auburn's offense, which had just 117 yards in the worst performance of Gus Malzahn's college coaching career. Bryant was also effective on the ground with seven carries for 77 yards and a touchdown. Clemson's 11 sacks reduced Auburn's net rushing total to 42 carries for 38 yards for a 0.9 per carry average.
Senior kicker Daniel Carlson stuck a 24-yard field goal on the game's opening drive after Auburn drove down the field, converting third downs and even a fourth-down conversion in the red zone. The freshman was one of quarterback Lamar Jackson's favorite targets in the win over North Carolina, catching four passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns. After a similarly brutal start, Clemson's offense found life late in the first half behind Bryant, who hit big passes to Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud, then ran it in for a three-yard touchdown with 48 seconds left in the first half.
Levy, reflecting on Bryant's return from what initially appeared to be a serious injury, said the QB was "Deondre Francoising [Bryant]", which was his way of saying he was writing Bryant off for the season with an injury. "We thought he'd do that - it's one thing to think it, it's another to see it". If that wasn't enough, Bryant came out in the third quarter, completed 3 of 4 passes for 46 yards and essentially put the game out of reach with a 27-yard touchdown run. But that drive stalled inside the 10-yard line. Bryant showed off his powerful running style with a pair of TD runs, Clemson's only scores of the night.
Tonight was Clemson's first true test of the season, and every level of its defense passed with flying colors. Instead, Saturday proved that Clemson can win big games if Bryant stays in control, doesn't make critical errors and lets his teammates do the heavy lifting. Auburn jumped out to a 6-0 lead, but Clemson dominated over the game's final three quarters.
Levy, a host turned play-by-play announcer, was on the call for the Clemson-Auburn game Saturday. In the game itself, the story became the dominance of the defenses against those quarterbacks. "It's a different animal next week going against the Heisman Trophy victor - it's like playing against 12". We'll get better offensively and we'll get this thing corrected.
Auburn's visit to Clemson on Saturday night was billed as a showcase between two unproven starting quarterbacks.
Auburn's defensive front will force Bryant into a couple of game-changing mistakes, set up the offense in good field position and the SEC variety of Tigers will spring the upset.
The Clemson linebacker tied a career high in tackles in the first half with 10, and finished with career high 14 total tackles when the game was over. Roof was a bright spot for the defense, as he recorded two tackles (both for a loss) and two sacks. You have to find ways to win games, especially early in the season, and I'm just really proud of our guys, particularly on defense.