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CLEMSON — The Clemson Tigers are far from a finished product, and coach Dabo Swinney knows that. That's why Swinney is hardly concerned that the Tigers fell to No. 4 in the latest AP Top 25 poll, released Monday, marking the third time they've dropped one spot in the past four weeks. 

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No. 3 Clemson won, but not before grinding through a contest that featured sloppy early play from quarterback Trevor Lawrence and injuries to offensive lineman John Simpson, running back Travis Etienne and defensive tackle Xaxier Kelly.

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Clemson was favored to win by 27 points and covered the spread in the 45-14 victory. The margin of victory likely would have been larger had Coach Dabo Swinney left his starters in for the second half.

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Kickers in football exist in a high risk/reward continuum, the centers of attention for brief, intense moments of time. Clemson sophomore B.T. Potter had been in the situation eight times this season before he missed a 24-yard attempt late in the second half Saturday.

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Gene Sapakoff column: Both South Carolina and Clemson answered real or perceived quarterback injury issues Saturday, with the Gamecocks stunning No. 3 Georgia with backup quarterback Dakereon Joyner coming off the bench and the Tigers' Trevor Lawrence having a great game after a week of shoulder questions

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There was a time when Saturday's matchup between the ACC foes would've been billed as a heavyweight bout. But the Seminoles have taken a turn in the wrong direction since 2014, when they last won a conference title. The Tigers have filled the void as the ACC's preeminent program, and that was laid bare in their 45-14 blowout. 

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The Tigers are mindful of the narrative that's emerged in the nearly two weeks since their 21-20 win at North Carolina; their standing in the national consciousness was elucidated when the AP Top 25 voters moved them from No. 1 to No. 2, in favor of Alabama.

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There are 130 FBS programs in college football, all of varying degrees of ability. Many believe Clemson to be the best of the group. Charlotte, as illuminated Saturday, is definitively not.

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Amari Rodgers caught a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Trevor Lawrence in the Tigers' 41-6 rout at Syracuse, finishing with four receptions for 121 yards, after catching just two passes for 6 yards in his return against Texas A&M the previous week. He beamed afterwards.

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Linebackers Isaiah Simmons, Chad Smith and James Skalski stood tall, recording a combined 27 tackles and guiding the Tigers to a 41-6 victory at Syracuse. 

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The true freshman has earned comparisons to former Clemson defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, a first-round draft pick for the New York Giants.