Kelly Bryant had two touchdown runs after getting knocked hard to the ground and defensive end Austin Bryant had four of Clemson's 11 sacks in the No. 3 Tigers' 14-6 victory over Auburn on Saturday night.
This was billed as an early showcase between elite teams with dreams of the College Football Playoffs. Instead, Clemson's Bryants never gave Auburn (1-1) much of a chance.
Bryant, making his second career start at quarterback for defending national champion Clemson, appeared to be seriously hurt after he remained on the ground on a hit by Dontavius Russell. But after a few moments in the medical tent, Bryant returned to direct a pair of touchdown drives that gave Clemson (2-0) the lead for good.
"I just had the wind knocked out of me. I was fine," Kelly Bryant said. "I wasn't going to go out like that."
Bryant's 3-yard run right before halftime put Clemson ahead 7-6. He finished the next possession with a spinning, 27-yard burst .
Clemson's defense squashed any chance of an Auburn comeback. Bryant was nearly unblockable and created havoc quarterback Jarrett Stidham and Auburn, which was held to 117 yards.
Austin Byrant sacked Stidham on Auburn's final two plays as the Baylor transfer desperately tried to get the ball downfield. Byrant threw for 181 yards on 19-of-29 passing. He also rushed for 68 yards.
"Football players are tough-minded people," Austin Bryant said. "This just shows we were the most prepared team."
AUBURN: Auburn has got to find a way to get its offense going and it must start with the offensive line. Jarrett Stidham was continually chased all over the field by Clemson defenders, who registered seven sacks.
"Obviously, we wanted to come out here and win this ballgame," Stidham said. "We didn't execute. (Auburn's) defense had one heck of a game. We've just got to come out and help them more."
CLEMSON: Clemson still has some issues to work out on offense. The Tigers' running game struggled to get going and the team made too many mistakes in keep drives going. But Clemson's defense did as advertised, shutting down Auburn until its offense with its bevy of new skill players (Byrant at QB, Milan Richard at tight end, C.J. Fuller at tailback and receivers Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud as starters) grow more comfortable playing together.
INJURIES: Auburn played without tailback Kerryon Johnson, who nursed a hamstring injury all week after getting hurt last Saturday against Georgia Southern. ... Clemson was minus starting safety Van Smith who had a knee sprain.
POLL IMPLICATIONS: Look for Clemson to move up to No. 2 with Ohio State's loss to fifth-ranked Oklahoma. Auburn is most likely in for a big slide after failing to score a touchdown against Clemson.
Auburn as one last game before Southeastern Conference play starts, taking on Mercer at home on Sept. 16.
Clemson starts Atlantic Coast Conference play with perhaps its toughest remaining test, at No. 17 Louisville next Saturday.