Clemson, SC – Sophomore quarterback Tajh Boyd was instrumental in stopping a pair of streaks for Clemson, on a Saturday that will surely be remembered for a long time in Death Valley.
Boyd threw four touchdown passes, leading Clemson to a 38-24 win over 21st- ranked Auburn, snapping the 17-game winning streak by the defending BCS champions and topping the SEC's Tigers for the first time since 1951.
Auburn had wild wins in their first two games against Utah State and Mississippi State, but couldn't overcome a shoddy effort on defense by allowing 624 yards on this day.
"Coming into the season, our goal was to run 80 plays per game. We ran 92 today, which is where we want to be. We just have to keep working hard," Boyd said.
Sammy Watkins had a pair of TD catches and totaled 10 grabs for 155 yards for Clemson (3-0), which had lost the previous 14 meetings against Auburn. Boyd connected on 30-of-42 throws for 386 yards.
"It's only fitting that an Alabama grad would be in charge of the team that ended the winning streak," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "It's amazing how this team has come together and these guys believe. We don't quit."
Clemson knocked off a defending national champion for a third time at home in as many tries. In 1991, Clemson beat Georgia Tech (UPI champs) and 10 years earlier the Tigers topped Georgia.
The last two games between Auburn and Clemson had been decided on the game's final play, but not on this Saturday. Clemson rallied from a 21-7 second- quarter deficit and the fans rushed the field to celebrate a huge win.
Michael Dyer rushed 16 times for 151 yards and a pair of scores for Auburn (2-1), which suffered its first defeat since Nov. 27, 2009 against Alabama. Barrett Trotter completed 12-of-25 passes for 198 yards with a TD and an interception.
"I felt like from the second quarter on, overall as a football team, we were not productive," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. "We were not making plays when we had opportunities to do so. It's very glaring that defensively, we have a lot of work to do."
Cody Parkey's 38-yard field goal had Auburn within 28-24 with five minutes left in the third quarter, but Boyd then led the hosts on a 12-play, 80-yard drive, capping it with a 19-yard TD pass to Watkins. He caught the short pass over the middle and was tackled at the goal line, but stretched into the end zone with 16 seconds left in the period.
Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 38-yard field goal with 11:48 remaining, and then Clemson's defense came up huge when Coty Sensabaugh picked off Trotter at the five-yard line to thwart a scoring drive.
Remarkably, Clemson ate up the final 9:34 off the clock, marching as far as the Auburn 20.
Dyer scored on a 52-yard run down the sideline less than five minutes into the game, and it became 14-0 on Auburn's second possession when Trotter connected with Emory Blake on a 36-yard TD, a bomb on 4th-and-4 down the center of the field.
Boyd's four-yard TD pass to DeAndre Hopkins on the first play of the second quarter cut into the margin, but Auburn then marched 90 yards in 16 plays, capping it with a Dyer dive over the middle from a yard away.
The Clemson comeback started on the ensuing possession with Boyd finding a leaping Dwayne Allen in the back of the end zone for a six-yard score with 5:06 left in the half.
Andre Ellington scored on a two-yard run to tie the game with 71 seconds remaining in the half, and Clemson went ahead for good on a Boyd-to-Watkins 65-yard strike 75 seconds into the third quarter. Watkins caught the short pass, split the defenders and raced to the end zone.
Auburn holds a 34-12-2 record all-time against Clemson...Auburn defeated Clemson 27-24 in overtime in 2010 in Auburn...D.J. Howard had 86 yards rushing for Clemson, while Hopkins and Allen each caught seven balls, for 83 and 80 yards, respectively.