College Football

Clemson Wins Defensive Battle vs Iowa State

Credit: Jacob Kupferman and Brian Bahr/Getty Images.

The headline reads Clemson wins defensive battle vs Iowa State, and that really can’t be overstated. It took until the 4:54 mark in the third quarter for either team to find paydirt. True freshman Will Shipley broke the 40-minute seal on the end zone with a 12-yard touchdown run. Iowa State needed to respond with a touchdown to keep pace with the Tigers.

Instead of responding with points, quarterback Brock Purdy’s pass on the ensuing Cyclone drive was tipped around and returned 18 yards for a touchdown by Mario Goodrich. Just when the outcome seemed bleak for the Cyclones, they caught momentum. After getting the ball back with a 20-3 lead, Clemson quarterback D.J Uiagalelei was intercepted by Jake Hummel. Iowa State was able to get a field goal on the ensuing drive with 1:23 left in the third quarter.

Game comes down to the 4th Quarter

Following a three-and-out by Clemson, Iowa State seized back momentum. Senior quarterback Brock Purdy drove Iowa State 63 yards. The drive was capped off by a 6-yard touchdown pass from Purdy to tight end Charlie Kolar. That score would make it 20-13 Clemson with 9:42 left in the game. After 3 punts in a row from Clemson and Iowa State, the Cyclones had a chance to go 89 yards and send the game to overtime.

However, their chances at a bowl victory would come down to a fourth and two at their own 36-yard line. While surveying the field, Purdy was not able to find anyone open down the field. He decided to pull the ball down and run it. After picking up the first down, Mario Goodrich punched the ball free from Purdy’s grasp. This ended the game with the final score of 20-13 Clemson.

Mario Goodrich returns an interception for a touchdown. Jim Rice/Greenville News

Player of the Game

While this award usually goes to an offense player, Mario Goodrich deserves this accolade. Not only did the senior come away with a pick 6, but he also had the game-sealing play. Goodrich was able to punch the ball away from Brock Purdy, thus giving the Tigers a Cheez-It Bowl victory. What makes this even more remarkable is Goodrich was forced to step up. After star cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. was benched following an altercation in the third quarter, a massive void was left in his place. With someone needing to step up, Goodrich obliged. His forced fumble late in the fourth quarter was his first in 4 years with the Clemson Tigers.

Key Stats

While both teams lacked explosiveness in the run game, Breece Hall’s absence was noticeable for the Cyclones. Iowa State was held to just 66 yards on 3.1 yards per carry. Hall had also set an NCAA record with 24 straight games with a rushing touchdown. In Hall’s absence, the Cyclones failed to rush for a touchdown.

Will Shipley broke a tie with college football hall of fame running back C.J. Spiller for the second-most rushing touchdowns by a Clemson true freshman. Shipley’s 11th touchdown of the year was the game’s first and helped Clemson pull away from the Cyclones.

Also worth noting was the absence of senior linebacker Mike Rose. Rose informed his teammates the night before the game that he would not be playing in the Cheez-It Bowl. With Rose unavailable, players like true freshman Beau Freyler had to step up. Rose totaled 321 tackles in his Cyclone career, ranking 11th all time.

Will Shipley runs for a first down. Ken Ruinard / USA TODAY NETWORK

Clemson makes history

By winning on Wednesday night, Clemson made it 11 straight seasons with at least 10 wins. Head coach Dabo Swinney also improved to 10-4 in his last 14 postseason games. Also worth noting, Clemson has won at least one postseason game in 8 of the last 10 seasons. The only two seasons where the Tigers failed to get a postseason win were in the College Football Playoff in the 2017 and 2020 seasons.

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