Clemson Falls Flat in Season Opener, Loses 28-7 to Unranked Duke

By Dan Hope on September 4, 2023 at 11:26 pm
Dabo Swinney

The opening weekend of the college football season ended with its biggest upset.

Despite entering the weekend ranked ninth in the country, Clemson ended the weekend with a 0-1 record as it fell flat in its season opener, losing 28-7 to unranked Duke on Monday night.

Red-zone scoring woes proved to be the undoing for Dabo Swinney’s squad as the Tigers made it inside the 20-yard line four times yet came away with just seven points. Duke blocked two field goal attempts by Clemson kicker Robert Gunn III while the Tigers lost two fumbles inside the 10-yard line. The Tigers were held scoreless on their final eight possessions of the game.

With its victory, Duke earned its first win over a top-10 opponent in 29 tries, beating a top-10-ranked team for the first time since it beat then-No. 7 Clemson in 1989. Clemson, meanwhile, suffered its second season-opening loss in three years, putting it on the brink of College Football Playoff elimination just one week into the regular season.

Clemson’s Week 1 performance came in stark contrast with the performances of the ACC’s other top contenders, Florida State and North Carolina, who fared much better in their own national spotlight games on Saturday and Sunday as UNC earned a 31-17 win over South Carolina on Saturday night and FSU had the biggest statement win of Week 1 with its 45-24 win over No. 5 LSU on Sunday night.

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