Clemson wins 13th straight over No. 13 Wake Forest, 48-27

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CLEMSON, S.C. – At last, Clemson looked like the powerhouse it was supposed to be this season.

Kobe Pace ran for a career-high 191 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers won their 13th straight over No. 13 Wake Forest, delaying the Demon Deacons’ run to the ACC Atlantic title with a 48-27 victory Saturday.

Will Shipley, with 112 yards, joined Pace in surpassing the 100-yard mark on the ground and had two TD runs. Shipley also threw a 2-yard jump pass TD to Davis Allen.

“For us, offensively, it’s our best game of the year,” offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said.

It sure took a while for the Tigers (8-3, 6-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) to play up to their preseason billing. But everything clicked, like so many other times, against Wake Forest (9-2, 6-1), which has not won at Death Valley since 1998.

“We already knew we had it in us,” said Pace, a sophomore. “It was just the right time to pull it out.”

Clemson, which won its 34th straight at home, also kept its hopes of a seventh straight trip to the ACC title game alive with the stunning rout of Wake Forest (9-2, 6-1). It was the Tigers’ first win over a ranked opponent in four tries this season and the most points it had scored against a Power Five team.

“Clemson outplayed us and outcoached,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said.

The Demon Deacons entered the game averaging 44.7 points and 498 yards a game. They left with a season low in points and had only 36 yards rushing.

With time running out, chants of “Over-Rated,” rang out through Death Valley. Fans filled the field at the end, the school reinstating its long-held tradition it first suspended in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Still, Wake Forest remains in the divisional driver’s seat and can make its first championship game appearance in 15 years by beating Boston College next Saturday.

“You tell me we’re 9-2 and going to Boston College playing for an ACC championship,” Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman said. “I can’t tell you I wouldn’t be excited about it.”

For the Tigers to reach the title game, they would need Wake Forest to lose to BC and have No. 25 North Carolina State lose one of its final two games.

The Tigers’ defense, the team’s lifeline while the offense struggled at times this season, set the tone. Hartman was sacked seven times and threw an interception. The Deacons also fumbled twice, both leading to Clemson touchdowns. Hartman finished with 312 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown with Wake trailing by 22 points.

Clemson put things away in the third quarter on Pace’s 8-yard touchdown run and a 58-yard pass from D.J. Uiagalelei to Beaux Collins to take a 31-13 lead.

“That was the game right there,” Hartman said.

Uiagalelei hit 11 of 19 passes for 208 yards. Collins, Uiagalelei’s high-school teammate, had four catches for 137 yards.

THE TAKEAWAY

Wake Forest: Clemson must live in the Demon Deacons’ heads. With a title on the line and having their best chance at ending an embarrassing losing streak, they looked nervous and unprepared. The Deacons must straighten out their mindset quickly to play at Boston College and clinch the ACC Atlantic.

Clemson: The Tigers finally looked like the team most expected when they were voted No. 3 in the preseason Top 25 and the clear favorite to win their seventh straight title. It can still happen if the chips fall Clemson’s way.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Wake Forest will drop a bit in the rankings with its uninspired showing at Clemson. Expect Clemson to re-enter the poll – it dropped out in September after a 27-21 OT loss at N.C. State – following its fourth consecutive victory.

ANGRY ETIENNE?

Elliott said Shipley’s jump pass was actually something the team had practiced for a while when two-time ACC player of the year Travis Etienne was part of the team the previous four seasons. Elliott said they hadn’t found a spot to use it until know. “Etienne is going to be pretty upset,” Elliott said, laughing.

UP NEXT

Wake Forest plays at Boston College on Saturday.

Clemson seeks its seventh straight win over rival South Carolina next Saturday night.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”

Pac-12 looking stronger at top after early-season losses

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When Oregon got throttled by top-ranked Georgia and Utah lost at Florida, it appeared as though the Pac-12 was headed toward another College Football Playoff miss.

One week into the season and two of the conference’s top teams had already failed big early tests.

Flash forward three weeks and it seems the Pac-12 might be in good shape after all.

The Ducks and Utes bounced back with big wins and the top of the conference looks strong, with four teams in the top 15 for the first time since 2016.

It’s still early, but the Pac-12 is putting itself in position to get a team through to the CFP for the first time since Washington in 2016-17.

A look at how the top of the Pac-12 is stacking up headed into the first weekend of October:

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

The No. 6 Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) seem to have quickly returned to glory in their first season under Lincoln Riley. The former Oklahoma coach brought quarterback Caleb Williams with him to Southern California and they have thrived through the first four games.

Williams has thrown for 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 100 yards and two more scores rushing. USC’s defense has been opportunistic, leading the nation with 11 interceptions while tied for the lead with 14 takeaways.

The Trojans survived a scare against scrappy Oregon State over the weekend to start 4-0 for the first time since 2012. USC has to play at Utah on Oct. 15, but avoids Washington and Oregon this season.

UTAH

The 12th-ranked Utes opened the season with a tough road loss at The Swamp in Florida, but have won three straight lopsided games.

Outside of a costly interception late against the Gators, quarterback Cam Rising has been sharp, throwing for 954 yards and 10 TDs. Utah (3-1, 1-0) has a physical defense and is third in the FBS, allowing 132.8 yards passing per game.

The Utes also have a veteran team that won the Pac-12 championship last season. The bad news: tight end Brant Kuithe, their leading receiver, is out for the season with a knee injury.

Utah plays Oregon State this weekend and has tough games against USC and Oregon still on the schedule.

OREGON

The Ducks’ playoff chances took an immediate hit with a 49-3 loss to reigning national champion Georgia in their opener.

No. 13 Oregon (3-1, 1-0) bounced back with a decisive win over a good BYU team and outlasted previously undefeated Washington State 44-41 last week.

The Ducks were no match for the Bulldogs in any aspect – few teams are – but have averaged 51.6 points the past three games. Oregon’s biggest weakness is its pass defense. The Ducks are allowing 72.5% of passes to be completed, third worst in the country.

Oregon’s biggest tests left in the season will come in back to back games against Washington and Utah.

WASHINGTON

The Huskies have made a quick turnaround in their first season under coach Kalen DeBoer.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been superb now that he’s healthy, throwing for an FBS-best 1,388 yards and 12 TDs with one interception. No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0) picked up a solid home win against Michigan State and has 15 sacks this season, including eight against Stanford last week.

The Huskies play their first road game at undefeated UCLA on Saturday and have to face Oregon on Nov. 12.

UCLA

After winning at Colorado for the first time since 2014 last Saturday, the Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have their longest winning streak since winning the first eight games in 2005.

UCLA had a hard time getting past South Alabama and opened its Pac-12 schedule with a win against the struggling Buffaloes.

The Bruins will find out how good they are over the next three weeks, a brutal stretch that includes home games against Washington and Utah before heading to Eugene to play the Ducks on Oct. 22.