JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Clemson Football’s mission in Friday’s Gator Bowl game against Kentucky is two-fold: close the season with a five-game winning streak and earn at least nine wins for a 13th consecutive year.
The Tigers (8-4) and Wildcats (7-5) will face each other for the first time since Clemson earned a 21-13 victory in the 2009 Music City Bowl following coach Dabo Swinney’s first full season in as head coach of the Tigers.
This season, Clemson has bounced back from a 4-4 start by winning four straight, including wins over ranked opponents Notre Dame and North Carolina.
Clemson vs. Kentucky Wildcats Football Score Updates
SNAPSHOT SUMMARY:Phil Mafah’s late touchdown caps wild fourth quarter, Clemson beats Kentucky in Gator Bowl
DOES SHIPLEY HURT:Clemson RB Will Shipley Injured and Taken During Gator Bowl
DO!Watch: Jonathan Weitz’s 52-yard field goal gives Clemson football lead over Kentucky in Gator Bowl
FINAL: Clemson 38, Kentucky 35
Shelton Lewis intercepts Devin Leary on the next play from scrimmage. The Tigers will win and go to 9-4. What a comeback victory in the most entertaining bowl game of the season so far.
The Clemson OL and pass protection allowed 8 sacks and 12 tackles for a loss, but the defense managed four turnovers in the fourth quarter.
Clemson 38, Kentucky 35, 17 seconds left in the fourth quarter: what a drive from Cade Klubnik, Tigers offense
Clemson takes the lead with 17 seconds left on Phil Mafah’s fourth touchdown of the game. 12 plays, 68 yards.
Cade Klubnik was penalized for an intentional grounding near midfield, but was once again able to convert on 3rd and long after a 16-yard pass to Troy Stellato and a 4th down conversion run from Phil Mafah.
After that sequence, Klubnik completed passes of 11 and 15 yards to Antonio Williams and Jake Briningstool to set up the first goal. Mafah finished the drive with a 4-yard TD run. Two-point conversion good.
Clemson’s defense needs a stop with 17 seconds left. Kentucky has all three timeouts.
Kentucky 35, Clemson 30, 2:39 left in fourth quarter: Clemson defense continues to allow big plays
Kentucky tight end Jordan Dingle breaks loose over the middle for a 72-yard catch and run. Two plays later, Ray Davis scored from one yard out.
Kentucky leads and Clemson’s defense suddenly can’t stop.
Clemson 30, Kentucky 28, 4:20 left in fourth quarter: Jonathan Weitz scores a 52-yard field goal
After a great kickoff return from Will Shipley, Clemson had to settle for a 52-yard field goal. Jonathan Weitz’s kick hits the crossbar and goes over. Just good. In case you need its absolute reach, this is it. The Tigers are leading and need a stop.
Kentucky 28, Clemson 27, 6:12 left in fourth quarter: Another coverage broken by Clemson defense
Barion Brown is wide open on a slot post, and he races toward the end zone for a 60-yard TD. PAT good.
Both Khalil Barnes and RJ Mickens got separated in the middle of the field on this play. I don’t know what happened there. Kentucky leads by 1.
Clemson 27, Kentucky 21, 6:47 left in fourth quarter: Another UK turnover turns into Phil Mafah TD
Barion Brown fumbles and Barrett Carter recovers. Khalil Barnes forced the fumble.
One play later, Phil Mafah broke away and scored on a 29-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion is good, with Klubnik to Tyler Brown. The Tigers lead by 6.
Mafah has three touchdowns on eight carries and 61 yards rushing.
Kentucky 21, Clemson 19, 7:00 left in fourth quarter: Another UK turnover turns into points
Barrett Carter intercepts a pass from Devin Leary in Kentucky territory to set up the Tigers’ offense.
Clemson drives inside the Kentucky 10-yard line, but settles for a 29-yard field goal from Jonathan Weitz.
Some curious decisions by Klubnik on the scoring streak forced the Tigers to punt at the FG. There’s still time for another stop and another chance for the Clemson offense.
Two teams exchange turnovers
Kentucky’s Devin Leary is sacked by Xavier Thomas and fumbles, while Justin Mascoll recovers deep in Kentucky territory.
On the next play, Cade Klubnik is dragged down as he throws, and the ball floats into the arms of Kentucky’s Jordan Lovett in the end zone for an interception. A big missed opportunity for Clemson.
Kentucky 21, Clemson 16, 14:56 left in fourth quarter: Tigers get much-needed TD on long drive
Clemson goes on a 14-play, 70-yard drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown run from Phil Mafah to start the fourth quarter.
A two-point try is of no use on a Klubnik failure.
The big sequence of the drive was Clemson turning a 3rd and 23 into a first down after a Troy Stellato 18-yard catch and a 4th down conversion on a Will Shipley catch and run in Kentucky territory.
Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne present at the Gator Bowl
It should come as no surprise, but former Clemson stars Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne are in Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl.
The two Jaguars stars play their NFL home games at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville. The Jags will face the Carolina Panthers in this stadium on Sunday.
Lawrence (2018-20) and Etienne (2017-20) played in the CFP each season at Clemson. The Tigers still have a few steps to go before returning to this form.
Kentucky 21, Clemson 10, 14:47 left of third quarter: Barion Brown’s kickoff returns TD to open second half
Kentucky’s Barion Brown makes his third kickoff return touchdown of the year, this one to open the second half.
Brown will continue to give them back if teams don’t move him away from him or out of the end zone. Why a Kentucky opponent would continue to kick him is a good question.
Halftime: Kentucky 14, Clemson 10
The Wildcats make most of the big plays of the game. The Tigers are probably lucky to be down 4.
Clemson’s offense is starting to make things happen through the air, but only had 18 carries for 55 yards on the ground.
Kentucky 14, Clemson 10, 7:44 left in second quarter: Kentucky strikes quickly for TD
A third-down pass interference penalty by Shelton Lewis extends Kentucky’s drive and the Wildcats take advantage.
Dane Key beats Khalil Barnes for a catch and a 58-yard run. On the next play, Devin Leary found Key for a 5-yard touchdown. Kentucky regains the lead.
Clemson 10, Kentucky 7, 10:17 left of second quarter: Phil Mafah TD run puts Tigers ahead
Clemson gets good field position and takes advantage of it. Cade Klubnik finally connects down the field with completions to Troy Stellato and Jake Briningstool to go first and score. Phil Mafah hits the end zone on a 2-yard touchdown. PAT good.
Klubnik looked comfortable on this drive after 3 straight outs. 5 plays, 59 yards.
It’s also a nod to Mafah, who had an 18-yard run on the first play of the drive.
Clemson’s first offensive touchdown since a Will Shipley TD in the third quarter of the UNC game on November 18.
Kentucky 7, Clemson 3, 5:00 left of first quarter: Barion Brown completes TD as Wildcats make big plays
Kentucky is boom or bust, and it makes a few big plays for the first touchdown of the game.
Ray Davis runs for 43 yards on 3rd and 1, and Barion Brown scores on the next play on a 22-yard ending touchdown.
PAT good. Clemson’s linebackers were not good on this drive, and TJ Parker did not take the lead on Brown’s touchdown.
Clemson 3, Kentucky 0, 11:16 left in first quarter: Opening drive produces field goal
Clemson quickly moved into Kentucky territory after a good kickoff return by Will Shipley and a Kentucky personal foul on the first play from scrimmage.
A pair of clumsy plays produces a third-and-long, and Cade Klubnik completes to Jake Briningstool but three yards short of the first down marker.
Jonathan Weitz’s 39-yard field goal is good.
Klubnik was 4-4 for 14 yards on the drive. Antonio Williams got his first offensive snaps in a while and made a catch on a WR screen that lost yardage.
Pregame: Clemson looking for win No. 9 against SEC opponent
Kickoff time is approaching in Jacksonville. Clemson will be playing for 9th win this season and a five game winning streak to end the season. If momentum matters from year to year, a win on Friday should help.
Kentucky has QB Devin Leary, RB Ray Davis and a nearly complete depth chart playing Friday. Davis, third in the SEC in rushing yards, will be key to Clemson’s defense. The Vanderbilt transfer can also make an impact catching the football.
Clemson Game Time, TV Channel, Betting Odds Today vs. Kentucky
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