JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Clemson football's mission heading into Friday's Gator Bowl against Kentucky is twofold: Close the season on a five-game winning streak and go at least nine wins to 13.y Consecutive year.
Tigers (8-4) f Wild cats (7-5) will square off for the first time since Clemson posted a 21-13 win in the 2009 Music City Bowl after coach Dabo Swinney's first full season as the Tigers' head coach.
Clemson has rebounded from a 4-4 start this season by winning four in a row, including victories over ranked opponents Notre Dame and North Carolina.
Clemson vs. Kentucky Wildcats football score updates
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Shelton Lewis intercepts Devin Leary on the next play from scrimmage. The Tigers would win and go to 9-4. What a comeback win in what has been the most entertaining game of the season so far.
Clemson's OL and pass protection allowed 8 sacks and 12 tackles for loss, but the defense committed four turnovers in the fourth quarter.
Clemson takes the lead with 17 seconds left in Phil Mafah's fourth. 12 plays, 68 yards.
Cade Klubnik was penalized for intentional grounding near midfield, but was again able to convert third-and-long into a conversion after 16-yard passes to Troy Stellato and Phil Mafah on the fourth-down conversion.
After that sequence, Klubnik completed passes of 11 and 15 yards to Antonio Williams and Jake Brenningstall to set up first-and-goal. Mafah finished the drive with a 4-yard TD run. Good two point conversion.
Clemson's defense needs a stop with 17 seconds left. Kentucky had all three timeouts.
Kentucky tight end Jordan Dingle breaks free up the middle to catch and run for a 72-yard touchdown. Two plays later, Ray Davis scored from long range.
Kentucky takes the lead, and suddenly Clemson's defense can't stop.
After Will Shipley's big return, Clemson has to settle for a 52-yard field goal. Jonathan Weitz's kick hit the crossbar and exploded over the goal. Just good. In case you need its absolute scope, this is it. The Tigers are moving forward and need to stop.
Barion Brown is wide open on the slot post, driving toward the end zone for a 60-yard TD run. Good pat.
Khalil Barnes and RJ Mickens broke up down the middle of the field on that play. Not sure what happened there. Kentucky leads by 1.
Baryon Brown fumbles, Barrett Carter recovers. Khalil Barnes forced a fumble.
One play later, Phil Mafah breaks free and scores on a 29-yard run. 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.
Barrett Carter intercepts a Devin Leary pass in Kentucky territory to jumpstart the Tigers' offense.
Clemson drives inside Kentucky's 10-yard line, but settles for a 29-yard Jonathan Weitz field goal.
Klubnik's strange decisions on goal sequences forced the Tigers to kick a FG. There's still time for another stop and another opportunity for Clemson's offense.
Kentucky's Devin Leary was sacked by Xavier Thomas and fumbled, with Justin Mascoll recovering deep in Kentucky territory.
On the next play, Kidd Klubnik is drilled on a punt, and the ball flutters into the arms of Kentucky's Jordan Lovett in the end zone for an interception. Huge missed opportunity for Clemson.
Clemson goes on a 14-play, 70-yard drive capped by Phil Mafah's 1-yard touchdown run to start the fourth quarter.
The two-point attempt is no good if Klubnik is incomplete.
The big sequence on the drive was Clemson converting a third-and-23 into a first down after Troy Stellato's 18-yard catch and fourth-down conversion on a Will Shipley catch and run in Kentucky territory.
It shouldn't come as a 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 face the Carolina Panthers at that stadium on Sunday.
Lawrence (2018-20) and Etienne (2017-20) played in the CFP every season at Clemson. The Tigers have some steps to go before returning to this form.
Kentucky's Barrion Brown caught his third touchdown of the year, this one to open the second half.
Brown will continue to return those items if teams don't knock them away from him or out of the end zone. Why Kentucky's opponent keeps kicking him is a good question.
The Wildcats had most of the big plays in the game. Maybe the Tigers are lucky to drop to fourth place.
Clemson's offense started to get some things going in the air, but only had 18 carries for 55 yards on the ground.
A pass interference penalty on Shelton Lewis' third down extends Kentucky's lead, and the Wildcats take advantage.
Dane Key paces Khalil Barnes on a 58-yard catch-and-run. On the next play, Devin Leary finds a key 5-yard touchdown reception. Kentucky takes back the lead.
Clemson gets good field position and takes advantage. Cade Klubnik finally connects down the field on a Troy Stellato and Jake Briningstool completion to set up a first-and-goal. Phil Mafah hits the end zone on a 2-yard run. Good pat.
Klubnik looked comfortable on that drive after 3 straight turnovers. 5 plays, 59 yards.
Also a nod to Mafah, who ran 18 yards on the first play of the drive.
Clemson's first offensive touchdown since the Will Shipley TD in the third quarter of the UNC game on Nov. 18.
Kentucky is very boom or bust, and made a couple of big plays on the first down of the game.
Ray Davis runs 43 yards on third-and-1, and Barion Brown scores on the next play on a 22-yard run for the final touchdown.
Good pat. Clemson's linebackers weren't good on that drive, and TJ Parker didn't put the edge on Brown's touchdown run.
Clemson quickly moved into Kentucky territory after Will Shipley's kickoff return and a Kentucky personal foul on the first play from scrimmage.
A pair of quality plays produce third-and-long, a Cade Klubnik completion 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 was caught on a WR screen that lost yardage.
Closing kickoff time in Jacksonville. Clemson will play for its 9th win of the season and a five-game winning streak to end the season. If momentum is important from year to year, a win on Friday would help.
Kentucky has QB Devin Leary, RB Ray Davis and a mostly complete depth chart up and running on Friday. Davis, who ranks third in the SEC in rushing yards, will be key to Clemson's defense. The Vanderbilt transfer could also have an impact in catching football.
Clemson game time, TV channel, today's betting odds against Kentucky
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