No. 4 Florida State escaped the jaws of Death Valley alive on Saturday, but only by the seat of their garnet trousers.
Clemson ran all over the Noles on Saturday, racking up 146 rushing yards on 41 attempts, compared to FSU's 22 on 20. Quarterback Cade Klubnik also remained steady against Adam Fuller's defense as he threw for 283 with a 66% completion rate, and the Tigers led throughout regulation.
Fast-forward to the dwindling seconds of the third quarter when Clemson's woes began. Down a score, FSU LB Kalen DeLoach found Klubnik in the slot and pounced, knocking the pigskin free. Scooping the ball up himself, DeLoach raced to the house and tied the game at 24-all.
The fourth quarter saw two stops on both ends of the field before Clemson's final drive landed the Tigers in field goal range.
Enter Clemson's brand-new starting kicker, Johnathan Weitz, to the scene. A walk-on backup from 2019-22, Weitz left the program with a year of eligibility left as he pursued his online MBA at Clemson. A mere two weeks before Weitz planned to move to New York for his new job, Dabo Swinney plucked him from vacationing on the beaches of Charleston, SC, to replace starter Robert Gunn, who had gone 1-4 on FG attempts this season.
So far in the game, Weitz had kicked a 30-yarder and three XP, but with the game riding on his padded shoulders, Weitz lobbed the ball drastically outside the left upright on his 29-yard attempt at victory.
With FSU failing to convert in the minute left, the teams ended regulation knotted at 24, entering their first overtime bout since 2014 (during which FSU won 23-17).
It took just two plays for FSU gunslinger Jordan Travis to target Keon Coleman, who glanced over his left shoulder and jumped up to secure the ball in the end zone. With the ball in Clemson's hands, the Tigers sputtered to find an answer, and Klubnik's last-ditch pass on fourth down got deflected and bounced into the open field to affirm Florida State's win, 31-24.
FLORIDA STATE WINS IN OVERTIME IN DRAMATIC FASHION‼️— BallTalkSource (@BallTalkSource) September 23, 2023
— Florida St. Football is officially back!
— Dabo and Clemson look done again this year! Changes need to happen! 🤔
This win was a massive one for the Noles, who hadn't returned from Death Valley unscathed since 2013. On top of that, Florida State handed Clemson its first conference loss in Memorial Stadium since 2016. Travis, a 2023 Heisman prospect, tossed for 289 yards and three touchdowns — the game-winning score notched Travis as the program record-holder for career touchdowns.
With the final score, the Noles extend their 30-point scoring streak to 10 straight games, and improve to 4-0 on the season (2-0 ACC).
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Should Clemson fans now start looking toward basketball season? There's certainly trouble brewing in Death Valley; it started with the Tigers' Week 1 loss to the Duke Blue Devils, but Clemson was able to contain the hysteria with shutouts against Charleston Southern and Florida Atlantic. Now, with the Tigers now holding a 0-2 conference record, it would take a miracle — aka, a perfect ACC outing from here on out — for the Swinney's squad to advance to its eighth conference championship in nine years. See the remainder of Clemson's schedule here.