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Clemson's defense remains elite in impressive shutdown of Auburn

Clemson's defense remains elite in impressive shutdown of Auburn

An overwhelming defensive performance and the legs of quarterback Kelly Bryant powered No. 3 Clemson to a 14-6 home win over No. 13 Auburn on Saturday night in Clemson, South Carolina.

Auburn QB Stidham has a lot of arm talent, but I was anxious to see how the Baylor transfer would handle pressure from elite defensive linemen who simply do not often play in the Big 12. "We were in the game the whole time".

Auburn took the opening kickoff and drove the ball 75 yards to strike first blood in the battle of the Tigers.

The No. 13 Tigers (1-1) recorded 15 yards on 29 plays in the second half.

On two separate drives, Auburn had first down from Clemson's 2- and 11 -yard lines, all within the first 16 minutes of the game, and came away with just six points. And the pass rush was ridiculous, recording 11 sacks, including a huge one on third-and-goal that prevented Auburn from taking an early two score lead.

The Clemson Tigers football team then saw their defense wake up as well. Clemson's 11 sacks reduced Auburn's net rushing total to 42 carries for 38 yards for a 0.9 per carry average. His first-down passes went for -1, 9, 6, and 5 yards, plus 3 incompletions.

"Going into the week, we knew their quarterback Stidham had a big arm, so we knew we were going to have to do our jobs, play assignment football and just be ready for the pass", said cornerback Mark Fields. "That's what he's (Bryant) been in practice. I can't say enough good things". Zerrick Cooper took over for a cameo, but Clemson's fourth drive ended in a missed field goal. The second TD was an eight-play, 79-yard march Bryant finished with a 27-yard run. They scored back-to-back sacks on the following drive, setting a new tone in the second half.

With Watson gone, Clemson's offense was bound to take a step back this year, even if it's still effective. Auburn reached the red zone merely twice and did not tread into Clemson territory on any of its final nine possessions.

Clemson would beat the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2016 ACC Championship Game. Auburn settled for another Carlson field goal, this time from 28 yards out, after driving to the Clemson 6. After the hit, he completed 14 of 22 for 156 yards and ran for 59 yards and two touchdowns. "It's a different animal next week going against the Heisman Trophy victor - it's like playing against 12".

The defending national champions looked sharp in their season-opener, topping Kent State 56-3, while quarterback Kelly Bryant led the offense for the first time since the legendary Deshaun Watson moved on to the NFL.

"We're going to be a good offense when it's all said and done". The deep and talented Clemson defense spread the wealth, living in Auburn's backfield all night.

Auburn's defense looked to be the tougher unit to start the game, but just when it looked like it might score a knockout blow, Clemson turned the game around. Linebacker Dorian O'Daniel had a career-high 14 tackles and linebacker J.D. Davis picked up his first career sack.

With Auburn's defense keeping the game from getting out of hand, there was indeed an opportunity for coach Gus Malzahn's side to turn the contest on its head late.

What should you expect in the top 10 matchup between Auburn and Clemson?

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