In the most dissected aspect of Clemson's national title defense, Kelly Bryant is proving more than a serviceable facsimile of Deshaun Watson, the most decorated player in school history.
But there's little argument that it's the nation's third-raked team defense, which racked up a whopping eight sacks on No. 13 Auburn's Jarrett Stidham -- the most in a single game for the Tigers of the Howard's Rock variety since 2004 -- is the biggest reason it was a 14-6 winner Saturday night in Death Valley and a College Football Playoff threat again.
Which makes what comes next so enticing.
The ACC's rep against the SEC is salvaged after Clemson held Auburn to a mere 117 yards, including 38 on the ground. In the box score ,that went a long way to negating running back Kamryn Pettway's 74 yards, and the Tigers of the Plain's only damage on the scoreboard was two Daniel Carlson's field goals.
Now, Clemson turns its attention to Atlantic Division rival No. 17 Louisville and Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, who is off to another mind-boggling start.
With 525 yards, 393 of which came through the air, and six touchdowns in a 47-28 road win over North Carolina, Jackson has just five less yards (1,010) through two games than he had in claiming the Cardinals' first Heisman as a sophomore.
Clemson with ends like Austin Bryan (four sacks vs. Auburn), Christian Wilkins (five tackles, 1 1/2 sacks) and Co. isn't Purdue -- which gave up 396 yards to Ohio -- or the winless Tar Heels. But on the flip side, many of these Tigers were on the field last year when Jackson had 457 yards and three scores in Clemson's 42-36 survival at home.
That could make the play of Bryant, who threw for 181 yards and ran for 59 and two scores vs. Auburn, all that more crucial for Clemson to get out of Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium. Given the way Louisville's rebuilt defense, which has allowed 344 to the Boilermakers and another 401 Saturday in Chapel Hill, he could well deliver.
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But if Jackson sets the tone, none of it will matter, making that duel between Tigers coordinator Brent Venables and the most exciting player in the country so intriguing.
It's just the first meeting of expected Atlantic contenders, but in terms of the CFP picture, it could loom large.
Florida State, having dropped its opener to No. 1 Alabama, hasn't experienced life without injured QB Deondre Francois. Its Week 2 game vs. UL Monroe was canceled with Hurricane Irma looming, and next weekends clash with No. 16 Miami has been moved to Oct. 7.
Falling before they've faced Clemson, Louisville, NC State or any of the would-be division foes has the Seminoles in a bad way. Meanwhile, dark horse NC State already has a loss via South Carolina and a slow start forced the Wolfpack to rally from a 20-10 deficit to beat Marshall 37-20.
The division's best bet likely lies with Clemson, defined by its defense or the Cardinals, and a QB trying to do the impossible in winning a second Heisman.
Their meeting will be just a taste of division clarity, but barring a surprise (Hurricanes or No. 18 Virginia Tech, anyone?) this may be for positioning to be the ACC's best hope at a return to the CFP.