TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he could remember losing games to Florida State. However, it has now been seven years of dominance over the Tigers’ conference rival.
DJ Uiagalelei threw for 203 yards and three touchdowns and No. 4 Clemson forced a momentum-turning takeaway to hold off Florida State 34-28 on Saturday night.
Clemson (7-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) scored on six straight drives and surpassed the 30-point mark for a seventh straight game to open the season.
Will Shipley had 20 carries for 121 yards and six catches for 48 yards to help the Tigers to their seventh straight victory over the Seminoles.
“I have a great appreciation for winning, especially against this group,” Swinney said. “I’ve been down here when there’s not been a lot of hope on our sideline.”
That hasn’t been the case of late as Clemson has won every matchup with Florida State since 2015, which coincidentally started the Tigers' run of appearances in the College Football Playoff from 2015-20. The games have been much closer of late, including Saturday’s game that looked like Clemson had well under control until a Florida State comeback in the fourth quarter.
Florida State kept up with Clemson for the first 20 minutes, but defensive end Myles Murphy’s sack of Jordan Travis forced a fumble and the Tigers were set up with a short field. Three plays later, Uiagalelei’s 5-yard TD run put Clemson up 24-14.
Uiagalelei then had a 31-yard TD pass to Davis Allen, and B.T. Potter added a 34-yard field-goal attempt to give Clemson what appeared to be a commanding 34-14 lead with 7:32 left in the third quarter.
But Travis led Florida State on a pair of touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, the second a 94-yard march that culminated in a 25-yard TD pass to Kentron Poitier with 2:17 left and cut Clemson’s lead to 34-28. But the Tigers recovered the onside kick and were able to put the game away.
“I thought our defense played great there in the second half until they lost their minds,” Swinney said.
Uiagalelei didn’t have his most impressive statistical day, but he completed 15 of 23 passes for 203 yards and three touchdowns — one apiece to Antonio Williams, Jake Brinningstool and Allen.
“I feel like we do a lot of stuff better each and every day on offense,” Uiagalelei said. “Still have a lot of room to grow to be able to get where we want to be. … We were efficient tonight. Not as many plays as you usually have. But we were real efficient with the football.”
Lawrance Toafili ran for 68 yards and Florida State (4-3, 2-3) accumulated 196 on the ground. Toafili also had six receptions for 45 yards, but the Seminoles dropped their third straight game.
“I thought our guys continued to battle,” Florida State coach Mike Norvell said. “We had missed opportunities throughout. But they fought until the end. And I fully believed, as we were playing, that we would find a way to get back in, to be able to put ourselves in a position. And our guys did that but unfortunately we didn’t make enough plays to be able to finish the job.”
Shipley had a career-best 238 all-purpose yards, which also included a 69-yard kickoff return that set up a Clemson touchdown.
Florida State played without its top defensive player, tackle Fabien Lovett, who missed a fifth straight game. The Seminoles’ top running back, Treshaun Ward, also did not play.
Clemson: The Tigers were efficient on third downs, converting on 9 of 16 opportunities. They were 3 of 3 on red-zone trips (two touchdowns and a field goal), extending their perfect start to the year by scoring on 35 of 35 trips inside an opponent’s 20-yard line.
Florida State: The Seminoles were forced to roll the dice and went just 1 for 4 on fourth-down conversions, including a run on a fake punt that fell short.
Clemson: Hosts No. 18 Syracuse next Saturday.
Florida State: Hosts Georgia Tech on Oct. 29.