It did, indeed, come down to the trenches.
And in the end of what is clearly only a beginning, the young Tigers got the job done - on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
"It was time for our guys to step up and get some respect. It was their turn to step up and get an identity," said offensive coordinator Chad Morris. "If we're going to win and at the level we expect to win at, we're going to have to run the football. I'm extremely proud of our offensive line right now."
But in the end, after a see-saw, tug of war and exchange of field goals that saw Auburn edge ahead 19-16, the Tigers bowed up an went to work behind an offensive front that featured three first-time starters - David Beasley, Gifford Timothy and Tyler Shatley.
Clemson ran the ball all but two plays on a 75-yard drive for what proved to be the winning points, and then, after the defense forced a punt on Auburn's next possession, took the ball again and moved the length of the field on a drive that included a third-down conversion run by Boyd and a 45-yard scamper by Ellington.
On fourth-and-goal from the one, Dabo Swinney took three points from a difficult angle by Chandler Catanzaro for 26-19 lead, and then turned to his defense to finish the job.
They did just that.
Vic Beasley got pressure on a first-down incompletion, and then, after Auburn had picked up 17 yards on a pass over the middle, Malliciah Goodman sacked quarterback Kiehl Frazier, whose fumble was recovered by a teammate for a two-yard game.
With Auburn out of timeouts and the clock running down, Frazier missed on second down, and then on third down was sacked by Beasley, who fought through a block on the corner to make the play.
When it was over, the Tigers had rolled up 320 yards rushing. Auburn had 180, but worked hard against a Clemson defense that repeatedly came up with timely stops.
Clemson defensive linemen combined for 18 tackles, led by Josh Watson with 18.