Clemson, SC (WLTX) - Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson threw for six touchdowns and the Tigers piled up 622 yards of offense to get an easy win over South Carolina in their annual heated rivalry game , 56-7, Saturday night up in Death Valley.
The six touchdown passes was a personal best for the junior quarterback, the most thrown against USC in the Clemson-USC rivalry, and an all-time single game mark for an ACC player.
The Tigers defense did their job as well, harassing Gamecocks freshman Jake Bentley into a 7-17 passing night for just 41 yards through the air.
"We really played our best game of the year, a dominant performance in all phases of the game," Swinney said after the game.
The teams started the night chippy, with multiple reports of players from both teams mouthing off at each other during pre-game warmups. But when the actually game began, it was the Tigers that showed early that they had more fight in them for the evening.
Just three minutes into the first quarter, Bentley overthrew Hayden Hurst, allowing Clemson's Jadar Johnson to pick the ball out of the air for an interception. That set up a drive capped by the first of Watson's scores, when he found Mike Williams in the endzone, who used his tall frame to outleap USC's Jamarrcus King for a 34-yard TD.
Five minutes later, Williams would beat King again, this time dragging him several yards across the goal line for a 19-yard score to make it 14-0.
Before the quarter ended, Watson would change it up a bit, this time going to Jordan Leggett to took it in wide open for the score and a three touchdown lead at that point.
By the end of the first quarter, USC had 226 total yards to USC's 7.
In the second quarter, Wayne Gallman scored on an 8-yard pitch run and Mike Williams got his third TD catch with seconds before the half ended to give the Tigers a 35-0 lead going into the locker room.
It didn't get much better in the second half.
Watson found C.J. Fuller for an 18-yard catch with 12:44 in the third to extend the lead.
USC Head Coach Will Muschamp pulled Bentley and brought in Brandon McIllwain, and the team avoided the shutout when McIllwain pitched it to Samuel, who threw it to Edwards for a 33-yard score with 11:24 in the 3rd.
But it was too little, too late. The Tiger tacked on two more scores to give them their most lopsided win in the rivalry since the 63-17 win in 2003.
Clemson will play Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game next Saturday. If they win, they'll likely secure a spot in the College Football Playoff.
While a disappointing end to the regular season, for the Gamecocks, hey are going bowling after not qualifying for post-season play last year. They'll find out where they'll go and how they'll play in eight days when the bowl bids are announced.