For the first time this season, the offense and defense of the Tigers resembled that of most of their opponents as Virginia Tech was dominant from beginning to end and went on to the 24-7 victory over Clemson Thursday night at Lane Stadium.
While the Tigers' chances of making the ACC Championship aren't completely dead, they are definitely on life support.
Odds are the Tigers will have to wait at least one more year before claiming their first conference title since 1991.
"To keep our title dreams alive, we had to win tonight," Tigers quarterback Will Proctor said. "Obviously it kind of puts us behind the eight ball as far as that's concerned."
In order for Clemson to win the Atlantic Division, it has to have Boston College lose two of its final four conference games, while at the same time have Wake Forest lose at least one more.
"It's not over yet, we've got three games left," Tigers head coach Tommy Bowden said. "We've got a lot of football left. Mathematically we're not out of it."
Clemson's hot rushing tandem of James Davis and C.J. Spiller never got going as the two were held to a combined 71 yards on 22 carries.
Davis and Spiller never could get anything going. The longest run for Davis was nine yards, while the longest for Spiller was 13 yards, which came at the very end of the game.
Clemson's lone touchdown came on a Davis 6-yard run with 6:09 left in the first quarter to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead. That was the last time the Tigers scored.
That is in stark contrast to the way it's been all season for those two.
"We talked about being in the right spot and I thought we were in the right spot most of the time," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "You didn't see gaps in there, or holes in there, because if you did those two running backs will come out the other end."
It was the only time this year that the opposing defense looked faster than Tigers offense.
"They came out and were ready and played well," Davis said. "They're probably the fastest defense we've played against this year."
Things were equally as bad for quarterback Will Proctor, who had his third poor game in his last four outings.
Proctor completed just one pass in the second half and finished the night 11-of-28 for 86 yards and an interception. There were also another two or three that could have easily been picked off.
"They did a good job defensively of getting guys underneath the routes," Proctor said. "They're definitely the best defense we've played. That's what we thought they were going to be. But obviously we couldn't get much going."
All told, Clemson's offense compiled just 166 yards of total offense, which is the lowest for a Bowden-coached team and the lowest by the Tigers since they gained only 146 against Auburn in the 1998 Peach Bowl.
Conversely, Virginia Tech tailback Branden Ore ran through, around and over the vaunted Tigers defense, which came into the game ranked fourth in the nation in overall defense and seventh against the run.
He finished with 37 carries, a career high, and 203 yards, also a career high. He scored two touchdowns, the last of which came with 2:07 left in the third quarter to complete the game's scoring.
"He's a very good running back," Bowden said. "We knew he was coming in. He was everything we thought he was. We thought he was very equal to what we had on the field."
It seemed most of Ore's big plays came after he either broke through tackles or ran over Clemson defenders.
It was the most rushing yards allowed to a single player for the Tigers since Wake Forest's Chris Barclay ran for 179 yards in 2004.
It was also the first time Clemson gave up more than 300 yards in regulation.
"We didn't play as good as we can play," Tigers defensive coordinator Vic Koenning told CUTigers.com "I think we played good at times. We're also running out of players, too. It became obvious when we had to start subbing some guys. That's when we got into some issues.
"But you can't not do it. Our guys can't play every play. We're just kind of running out players. It's not excuses, it's just fact. There are guys that started out on the scout team that are playing now."
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