Coming off of one of their worst home losses in their history to Florida State, the Clemson Tigers were looking to rebound as they traveled to College Park, Md. to play against the Maryland Terrapins.
The Tigers’ performance was less than stellar, as they committed three turnovers and scored only three touchdowns on seven trips to the red zone, but still managed to overcome the upset with a 40-27 victory to keep the Tigers’ BCS bowl hopes alive.
This game was certainly not pretty by any means on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Tajh Boyd and the offense often stalled in the red zone, having to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns and scored just three touchdowns on their seven red-zone trips. Boyd wasn’t sharp running the offense, especially when the Terps’ defense applied heavy pressure blitzing the quarterback. Sammy Watkins was the saving grace of Clemson’s passing game, finishing the day with 14 receptions for 163 yards, with Martavis Bryant coming in second with a quiet performance, catching four ball for 88 yards. Tight end Jordan Leggett had the Tigers’ lone touchdown reception at the end of the first half.
Running back Rod McDowell also had his best game since the season opener, as he rushed for a game- and career-high 161 yards and two touchdowns, his first touchdowns on the 2013 season.
The defense was able to take advantage of the Terps’ injuries to quarterback C.J. Brown along with receivers Stepon Diggs and Deon Long to keep the Terps’ offense at bay long enough for the offense to get some points on the board. Despite an early 71-yard touchdown pass to put the Terps ahead 7-3 in the first quarter, the defense did just enough to hold their offense for the rest of the game, holding Maryland to just 82 rushing yards and 287 passing yards.
If there was an MVP in Clemson’s victory, it would surely be Clemson kicker Chandler Cantanzaro, who made all four of his attempted field goals when the Tigers failed to reach the end zone. But with the Tigers committing two costly fumbles in this game, Dabo Swinney and his staff need to shore up their recent turnover problem, as they still have plenty to play for, and losing another game isn’t an option.