The Clemson Tigers (9-0, 6-0 ACC) played a complete game against Syracuse (4-5, 2-3 ACC) and the result was a shutout as the Tigers juiced the Orange 54-0.
Armed with a 30-0 lead at halftime there was no need for quarterback Deshaun Watson to come back in the game in the second half after suffering a bruised shoulder. He said he was fine in a postgame interview and they really didn't need him.
All three phases were near perfect for the Tigers. Groza Award semifinalist Greg Huegel put the first points on the board for the Tigers and with a 22 yard field goal to cap a 36 yard drive for Clemson.
An interception by Ryan Carter gave the Tigers a short field on their third possession of the game. Deshaun Watson waltzed into the endzone to give Clemson a 10-0 lead by the end of the opening frame.
That would be the theme of the day for the Tigers-offensive efficiency, defense and playmaking.
Watson accounted for three touchdowns in the first half. He hit Deondre Cain for a 65 yard touchdown pass which was the longest play the offense has produced all year. That was a part of 20 point second quarter for the Tigers and a big day for Cain who finished with five catches for 125 yards and two scores.
Backup quarterback Nick Schuessler threw for two touchdowns going 11-17 and 177 yards passing. Watson was a modest 13-16 with 169 through the air. He added 39 rushing yards. The two quarterbacks led an offense that generated 565 total yards and scored on 9 of their 14 possessions.
The defense earned their second shutout the season highlighted by three interceptions. One of those picks was returned for 64 yard touchdown by freshman defensive back Tanner Muse in the fourth quarter. Orangeburg product Jadar Johnson led the team with 7 tackles as well.
No.3 Clemson could be hitting their groove with three games remaining which will lock them in as one of four college football playoff teams. They host Pittsburgh next week, then on the road to Wake Forest and they end the against the improving South Carolina Gamecocks.
If both teams keep going on their trajectories the season finale could be an all-time classic. In the meantime Clemson is looking like one of, if not, the best team in the country after an outstanding 54-0 win on Saturday.
They host Pitt next Saturday at 3:30 pm in Memorial Stadium.