Atlanta, GA – DeAndre Hopkins had a school-record 13 catches, including a tough four-yard touchdown grab in the fourth quarter that gave No. 14 Clemson the lead in a 26-19 win over Auburn on Saturday.
The reigning ACC champions began the season without standout wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who started a two-game suspension for a drug arrest. Hopkins filled that gap for Clemson (1-0) and Andre Ellington rushed for 231 yards.
Tajh Boyd threw for 208 yards, including 119 to Hopkins, and added 58 yards rushing. Under a new rule, he had to leave the game three times for one play because his helmet came off.
Despite the high profile of the team Clemson beat, coach Dabo Swinney said the win "doesn't mean anything" coming so early in the season.
"N.C. State lost last night and what does that mean? Heck, they may win the rest of them. Who cares?" he said. "It's really going to be determined at the end of the season.
"Great, we carried the banner tonight. We got a huge win. But we've got a whole season to play."
Kiehl Frazier made his first start for Auburn (0-1) on a big stage at the Georgia Dome and completed just 11-of-27 passes for one touchdown and one interception.
Auburn, coming off an 8-5 season, was without leading rusher Michael Dyer, who ran for more than 1,000 yards in his two seasons as a Tiger but was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules and left the school.
Tre Mason led Auburn with 107 yards rushing and Emory Blake had 109 yards receiving and a touchdown. Cody Parkey was 4-for-4 on field goals.
"One of the great things about playing a game like this early in the season is I think you get a very good idea of not only where you are at this moment, but where you need to go," said Auburn coach Gene Chizik.
Clemson came back to beat Auburn last year as part of an 8-0 start and trailed this one 19-16 before Hopkins' go-ahead touchdown.
He came down with the pass in the back right corner of the end zone despite close coverage by cornerback Chris Davis, who was draped all over him. The play capped a 75-yard drive.
Chandler Catanzaro kicked his fourth field goal of the game from 18 yards to give Clemson its final margin.
Earlier, Frazier found Blake wide open on the right for a 54-yard touchdown to give Auburn a 7-3 lead in the first quarter.
Mason was stripped by Josh Watson early in the second quarter and Jonathan Willard recovered the fumble for Clemson, leading to Catanzaro's second field goal of the game.
The 40-yarder to get the Tigers within 7-6 and they took a 13-7 lead on Roderick McDowell's seven-yard run. The touchdown was set up by Rashard Hall's interception of a long third-down pass by Frazier and Ellington's 68-yard rush on first down.
Parkey's 37 yard field goal got Auburn within 13-10 before halftime. His 46- yarder tied the game early in the third quarter but Catanzaro followed with a 37-yarder to give Clemson a 16-13 lead.
Auburn went up 19-16 on field goals of 27 and 36 yards from Parley, the second one set up by Daren Bates' interception early in the fourth quarter.
Catanzaro kicked a 24-yard field goal for the game's first points ... Clemson plays Ball State next week ... Auburn opens SEC play at Mississippi State next week.