It was supposed to be a marquee matchup for the ACC between a pair of top five teams. Instead, it was a clinic put on by the Florida State Seminoles as they absolutely dominated the Clemson Tigers on their own home turf, securing their first win in Death Valley since 2001 and putting themselves squarely in the conversation for the BCS National Championship. Jimbo Fisher is sure to have plenty of game-balls to hand out for this stellar showing but one of the first needs to go to Lamarcus Joyner.
The senior defensive back made his presence felt immediately when he stripped Stanton Seckinger on the very first offensive play for the Tigers. That turnover gave FSU the ball deep in Clemson territory and led to Jameis Winston‘s first (of three) passing touchdowns and an early 7-0 lead. Later in the first quarter, Joyner came on a blitz that Tajh Boyd never saw and he forced a strip sack fumble that was scooped up and returned for a touchdown that put the Noles up 17-0 and well on their way to a lopsided rout.
Not content with just a couple of forced fumbles, Joyner stepped in front of a Boyd pass later in the first half with the Tigers driving to score. That turnover squashed any possible momentum that Clemson could have hoped to build going into the half and led to another field goal for FSU and a 27-7 lead at the break. The Florida State pass defense was known to be tough coming into the game and Joyner made sure they maintained that reputation.
Thanks to the efforts of Joyner and rest of the FSU secondary, Clemson had no shot at mounting a comeback in this game. Boyd finished the game completing just 17 of 37 passes for 156 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions on the night. It was a dreadful performance that ended Clemson’s hopes of a BCS National Championship, an ACC title and Boyd’s Heisman Trophy campaign.
Joyner was a one-man wrecking crew, accounting for three of Clemson’s four turnovers on the night and shutting down the explosive Tigers’ passing attack for four quarters. His leadership in the secondary makes FSU’s defense one of the best in the nation and gives the Seminoles a great shot at making a run at a national championship at season’s end.