MIAMI -- The undercard of Clemson vs. Miami was Miami offensive coordinator Mark Whipple vs. Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.
The "Whiplash" offense vs. the "Steele Curtain" defense.
A matchup of perhaps the best offseason coordinator hires in the ACC. Grizzled, well-traveled coaches with NFL pedigrees and college head coaching experience.
While most would assign a victory to Whipple -- the Miami offense scored 30 points in a loss -- Steele's unit came through with the final two wins of the night, two critical stops to help Clemson to a signature win.
A win, which reshapes the ACC's divisional races.
Clemson's victory vaults the Tigers (4-3, 3-2 ACC) to first place in the ACC Atlantic, owning tiebreakers over Boston College (5-3, 3-2) -- the only other team with a winning conference record in the division -- and Wake Forest (4-4, 2-2).
The win also crushed the long-shot national title hopes and severely damaged the ACC title aspirations of Miami (5-2, 2-2).
Miami coach Randy Shannon uttered the word "sloppy" over and over again following the game. He said Miami's final offensive play of regulation, a 1-yard Javarris James run on third-and-3 that forced a punt was sloppy, the result of "blown call" by his offensive line.
Steele would call the play beautiful.
Miami started the possession with 5:37 to play. Trying to run out the clock, the creative Whipple became vanilla, calling three straight runs.
On a night Clemson allowed 5.1 yards per rush, the Tigers held, forced a punt and allowed Kyle Parker to drive the Tigers 47 yards to set up Richard Jackson's 30-yard field goal, sending the game into overtime.
The Tigers held again during Miami's first possession of OT.
Clemson won the toss, electing to place Miami on offense. On Miami's first play, Graig Cooper rushed 19 yards to the Clemson 6, setting up first and goal.
Steele noted many in Clemson Nation likely cringed at that moment, thinking "here we go again."
Miami had gained 177 rushing yards on its first 33 carries. Dabo Swinney said the Tigers did not display gap integrity and had misalignments.
"In the run game they did a nice job schematically," Steele said. "But we can go back and get that fixed."
Clemson fixed it on the next two plays. Miami rushed twice for 1 yard. Following a Jacory Harris incomplete pass on third and goal, when the Clemson coverage held up through Harris' progressions, Miami settled for a field goal.
Steele said Clemson didn't affect Harris as much as he would have liked, his blitz calls were met with varied results, but the Tigers did intercept Harris three times and sacked the sophomore three times.
Three plays later, Kyle Parker hit Jacoby Ford on a 26-yard game-winning touchdown.
It was a stop, a throw, and a catch the Tigers lacked in losses against TCU and Georgia Tech. While the Tigers weren't perfect, Swinney said the fourth-quarter execution is a sign of maturity -- of learning how to win.
Speaking of Ford, the West Palm Beach native couldn't have scripted a better return home. After drawing up the game-winning play, Ford sprinted to the stands pointed to his mother and brothers and threw the ball up to them. Ford dreamed of playing for Miami but never received a scholarship offer.
It turns out Miami kicker Alex Uribe disobeyed orders when he kicked the ball deep to C.J. Spiller late in the second quarter, resulting in a 90-yard kick return. Miami coach Randy Shannon wanted to continue kicking short. Shannon benched Uribe for the remainder of the game … Clemson tight end Michael Palmer suffered a concussion from a helmet-to-helmet collision Saturday with Darryl Sharpton. Swinney didn't offer a direct answer Sunday when asked if there should have been a penalty on the play.
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