When Clemson got the ball back, up 24-17 with 1:41 left in the 3rd quarter, one more touchdown likely would have put Florida State away and put the Tigers back in the ACC title race.

Instead, quarterback Cade Klubnik fumbled and FSU linebacker Kalen DeLoach returned it 56 yards for a touchdown and to tie the score at 24.

After a missed 29-yard field goal by Jonathan Weitz gave them a second chance, FSU went on to win the game in overtime. Clemson has lost both games against Power 5 opponents this season, and 5 of its past 8 against P5 foes.

There is a common thread in those 5 losses: The Tigers averaged just 17.8 points per game in the losses and did not crack the 31-point mark in those games.

Statistically, that’s notable for a few reasons. The Tigers have been nearly unbeatable when they score at least 31 against P5 opponents.

Let’s take a 25-game sample since the start of 2021 season. Clemson is 8-0 when it scores 31 or more points and 9-8 when it doesn’t.

No, duh, you might think, when any team scores a lot of points it wins. But here’s the startling part for Dabo Swinney and the Tigers: They only hit that 31-point mark 8 times.

If you take the 25-game sample from the 2018, ’19 and ’20 seasons, the Tigers hit that mark 20 times. And, look at that! They went 19-1 in those games with the only loss being 47-40 in overtime at Notre Dame in 2020.

Swinney hired offensive coordinator Garrett Riley from TCU to fix the Tigers’ scoring woes. Through 2 games, they’ve scored 31 total points. Not great. The yardage totals are (6.02 per play, 474.3 per game) are similar to last year’s first 4 games (6.17 ypp, 458.5 ypg).

Turnovers (3 of them) were a problem in the Duke loss. Klubnik’s fumble was the only turnover in the FSU loss, but it was crucial.

Speaking of obvious statistical problems, Clemson started 7-0 last year and was a +6 in turnover margin in those games. It was a -7 in the final 7 games last season and went 4-3.

They are -2 in their 2 losses this season and +2 in their 2 wins (Charleston Southern did have a pick-6 in their 66-17 loss on Sept. 9).

Swinney has done his best work in the past 2 seasons when the Tigers have been knocked out of the Playoff race. It will take that, and then some, to extend Clemson’s 12-year streak with double-digit wins.

GameDay droughts

Duke is about to cross off a milestone this week as the host for ESPN’s “GameDay” crew. GameDay started in 1995, Duke was 1 of 6 Power 5 programs that had not hosted the traveling football circus.

It’s hardly a scientific metric, but when asking, “What’s the problem with ACC football?” consider the ACC accounts for half of those 6 schools (Virginia and Syracuse are the other current league members that have yet to host).

While not always the driving reason, it’s fair to correlate national interest in a program to ESPN’s decision to bring it’s pregame show to campus.

Soon-to-be new ACC addition Cal is also on the dubious list of “never hosted.” The rest of the list: Illinois, Rutgers and Maryland (which was in the ACC until 2014).

Stubborn Irish

Public Service Announcement for the Golden Domers: Help yourself and join the ACC.

That starchy 17-14 last-second loss to Ohio State will put a significant dent in Notre Dame’s College Football Playoff chances. The Buckeyes were the Fighting Irish’s big chance to impress the Playoff committee.

They have only 2 ranked teams left on the schedule — Duke (18) and USC (5) — and you can bet dollars to donuts they will not be given credit for beating Duke, the same way they would have with a win over Ohio State.

If they were in the ACC, Notre Dame could withstand the loss because they’d be able to use the conference title as a path to the Playoff (as they did in 2020!)

Of course, the Irish aren’t interested in logic. They have won 29 consecutive regular-season games against ACC foes, but what fun would it be to join a conference? Nevermind that conference saved you in ’20 and added Stanford to appease your academic nobilities.

The expanded 12-team Playoff field will make it easier for Notre Dame to make the tournament moving forward. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick’s subcommittee gambit in the summer of ’22, with SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, saw to that.

Given Swarbrick’s recent comments to Dan Patrick, who knows if Notre Dame would even join the ACC if they were to give up their independence (even though the Grant of Rights ties them to the ACC until 2036).

If winning the school’s first national title since 1988 is the goal, joining the ACC would make that easier, assuming the first-round byes will be reserved for conference champions.

But who knows what Notre Dame cares about? Other than Notre Dame.

Is Miami back?

The Hurricanes wrapped up their nonconference slate with a 41-7 road win over Temple. Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke continued his comeback story with 3 more touchdown passes.

On the list of stats that can’t possibly be real: Miami has never had a quarterback throw for 30 TDs in a season.

NFL legends Jim Kelly and Bernie Kosar never did it. Heisman Trophy winners Vinny Testaverde and Gino Torretta didn’t, either.

Van Dyke, who missed 3 games last year with a shoulder injury, has 11 through 4 games. Barring an injury, he will make history for 2nd-year coach Mario Cristobal.

As for Miami getting back to “The U” status, their first league title is out there for the taking.

A trip to Chapel Hill on Oct. 14 looms large. The Canes have lost 4 straight to the Tar Heels and are just 3-6 at Kenan Stadium since joining the ACC in 2004.

Wake’s woes

Georgia Tech’s defense recorded 1 sack in the first 3 games. The Yellow Jackets had 8 in their convincing 30-16 road win at Wake Forest on Saturday.

Does that say more about the Georgia Tech defense or Wake’s offensive line?

Much has been made of quarterback Sam Hartman’s decision to use his 6th season at Notre Dame and not stay at Wake. But it doesn’t matter who is playing quarterback if the line doesn’t block.

The Deacs rank 129th (out of 133 FBS teams) in sacks allowed with 18 through 4 games.

Dave Clawson has earned his reputation as one of the best X-and-O coaches in the country and he has led the smallest school in the P5 to 7 consecutive bowl games — and at least 7 wins in the past 6 seasons with a 12-game schedule.

Those streaks will be in jeopardy if the blocking issues don’t get corrected. The Deacs get a week off before going to Clemson (Oct. 7). Clawson has won a lot at Wake, but he’s 0-9 against the Tigers.

The schedule doesn’t relent after that. Dates with ranked foes (FSU, Duke and Notre Dame) await as does the annual (for now) grudge match with rival NC State.

“I think things always get fixed,” Clawson said Saturday after the loss. “You go back and look at 2018, that thing looked like it was heading for the disaster area but we made corrections and fixed things. That’s our job as coaches: to fix the mistakes and fix the problems.”

This is not the first time Wake has struggled to protect the quarterback. They’ve been able to win in spite of the protection problems. Five of the previous 7 teams have ranked 100th or below in sacks allowed, including in ’21 when they went 11-3 and won the ACC’s Atlantic Division.

Good teams win, great teams cover

If you’re only as good as the company you keep, NC State is in good company with its winless record against the betting spread this season.

The Wolfpack is the only ACC team winless against the Vegas number (0-4) and one of 7 P5 teams. Also on the list: Georgia (0-3-1) and Michigan (0-3-1).

That’s heady company and one the Wolfpack would like to keep. Of course, SEC doormat Vanderbilt is also on the list. Minnesota, Illinois and Baylor round out the group of teams that have kept Vegas guessing.