The AP No. 3 Clemson Tigers had an upset scare against Boston College at home on Saturday, but the favorites fought off multiple deficits to beat their ACC foes, 24-14.
A loss against an unranked opponent in Death Valley would have doomed Clemson's national title hopes. Instead of caving under the immense pressure, though, the Tigers' stars shined in rising to the occasion.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for 334 yards and a touchdown, hooking up frequently with electric receiver Sammy Watkins, who nabbed seven receptions for 101 yards and the lone scoring catch.
The pair connected for a 48-yard strike to put Clemson up 10-7 in the second quarter, which seemed to swing the momentum in Clemson's favor:
That added to a field goal the Tigers got as time expired in the first half, giving them their first lead of the game after Boston College running back Myles Willis scampered 38 yards for a touchdown to draw first blood.
But no, this Eagles team was not going to go quietly.
Boyd's counterpart, Chase Rettig, responded just one play after the Boyd-to-Watkins connection on the first play of BC's next possession, hitting Alex Amidon for a 69-yard touchdown to put his team up 14-10.
That lead held until the fourth quarter, when Boyd led Clemson on an eight-play, 48-yard drive and capped it off himself by plunging to pay dirt from six yards out.
Rettig tried to make a little too much happen thereafter, escaping the pocket—not his forte—and attempting to throw it in desperation on third down.
Tigers linebacker Tony Steward forced a fumble in sacking Rettig. Star defensive end Vic Beasley scooped it up with a convoy to protect him as he rumbled into the end zone to give the Tigers a commanding lead:
ESPN's Chris Fowler rightly figured Clemson's advantage at the time was insurmountable:
The uncharted territory the Eagles found themselves in showed at the end of the game, when head coach Steve Addazio had to burn the team's final timeout with just over seven minutes remaining.
Combine that with a hurry-up offense that lacked a sense of urgency late in the contest, and BC had no chance to mount a comeback charge.
Any notions the Eagles entertained of pulling out an improbable victory on the road were dashed in crunch time, but it was a valiant effort and a potential positive to build on as BC enters its bye week.
As far as Dabo Swinney's Clemson bunch is concerned, this scare may have been a blessing in disguise.
With a marquee showdown looming against Florida State next Saturday, the Tigers overlooked this contest enough to trail entering the final 15 minutes. It had to be encouraging for Tiger fans to see Boyd, Watkins and Beasley respond to this stiff test of adversity.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
The Tigers did not display the intensity they will likely channel in facing the Seminoles, but they drew their claws in time to beat the Eagles and preserve their perfect record.