Away from the focus of conference championships and playoff rankings, Georgia Tech and Clemson earned themselves very big victories, beating Georgia and South Carolina for the first time after a long losing streak, part of the surprising ACC over SEC dominance experienced through rivalry week.
How dominant? ACC teams: Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Louisville won for the usually weaker conference against Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky. One thing worth mentioning is that all four are SEC East teams, considered by far to be the weaker conference. All SEC East teams played within the conference, including three games inside the division, meaning they avoided that slightly humiliating fate.
Georgia Tech beating Georgia is by far the bigger surprise. The last time they beat the Bulldogs was in 2008, 45-42. It was another close and dramatic game in Athens in 2014 as well, ending with a 30-24 win for the Yellow Jackets, this time in overtime. Georgia took the lead with 18 seconds left in the game, but Harrison Butker hit a 53-yard field goal to send the game into overtime with time expiring. In overtime, Zach Laskey scored a touchdown that turned out to be the winner, despite the point after being blocked.
Clemson beating the Gamecocks wasn’t as surprising, considering they were the ranked team going in. Clemson haven’t beaten USC since 2008 as well but it wasn’t much of a fair fight this time, walking away with the dominant 35-17 win. Dylan Thompson just isn’t the kind of quarterback who wins big games, especially not with the South Carolina defense experiencing a severe down year. Wayne Gallman ran for 191 yards, Deshaun Watson threw two touchdown passes and Clemson finally won a big game they were involved in this season.