Deshaun Watson, No. 1 Clemson romp past Wake Forest 33-13
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Deshaun Watson keeps piling up numbers and No. 1 Clemson continues winning. It's a formula the Tigers plan to use all the way to the college football playoffs.
Watson had another huge day, throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for another to lead Clemson to a 33-13 victory over Wake Forest on Saturday.
''As everyone as said around here and, hopefully, people will recognize this not something we're just throwing out there, we feel like he's the best quarterback in the country,'' Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. ''He can manage the system, he knows where to go with the ball. He's just a sophomore, but he doesn't make many mistakes.''
Certainly not this season as the Tigers (11-0, 8-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) moved to the brink of their first undefeated regular season since their national championship season of 1981.
''I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing,'' Watson said. ''There's no reason to change.''
Watson opened the scoring with a 3-yard run, then connected on TD passes of 44 yards to Charone Peake, 11 yards to Deon Cain and 47 yards to Germone Hopper.
Watson tops the ACC in total yardage and in touchdowns, upping his total to 26. He finished 24 of 35 for 343 yards. And he led the Tigers to their seventh straight game with 500 or more yards.
''Deshaun was amazing again today,'' coach Dabo Swinney said.
It's no coincidence the Tigers are undefeated and have a 14-game win streak, their longest in 34 years. It was also the program's 700th victory.
The Demon Deacons could not move the ball most of the game, gaining only 152 yards for their second-lowest total this season.
Clemson's biggest worry since beating Florida State two weeks ago has been not slipping up. The Tigers back slid some, especially on defense, in a 37-27 win at Syracuse where they surrendered several long plays and were in a one-score game until the fourth quarter.
That wasn't the case against the Demon Deacons.
Next up is rival South Carolina, which lost to FCS opponent Citadel earlier Saturday. Then comes the ACC championship game against Coastal Division winner North Carolina, with the four-team playoff still in the future.
''We've got the chance to be the best in the state, the best in the ACC and the best in the nation,'' Swinney said. ''That's just where we are.
Watson showed off his accuracy on his TD throws. His long passes to Peake and Hopper were both high-arching throws and landed in the waiting hands of receivers running full speed. Watson's throw to Cain was a laser strike.
Hopper ended with 120 yards receiving on three catches.
While Wake Forest gave Notre Dame a few headaches, it could not slow down Clemson. The Tigers had 318 yards in the first two quarters, surpassing what the Demon Deacons allowed all game vs. the Irish.
''We have some deficiencies in the program,'' said Wake Forest second-year coach Dave Clawson. ''We're young, but those kids they just play so hard. I'm so proud of them.''
The Tigers were without injured starters in 1,000-yard rusher Wayne Gallman and lockdown cornerback Mackensie Alexander. Both warmed up with teammates before the game and the two are expected to be ready next week.
Not everything was perfect. Watson threw his ninth and 10th interceptions of the year in the first half.
Starting linebacker Ben Boulware was hurt in the first half and did not return, although Swinney said he could have if necessary.
Greg Huegel ran his streak of made field goals to 15 with kicks of 40 and 36 yards. Huegel is a perfect 17 of 17 on field goals in ACC games.
Once the game got out of hand, Clemson tried some odd schemes, perhaps with an eye toward making ACC title game opponent North Carolina wary. It split Watson out wide on both sides of the ball while freshman Kelly Bryant ran the offense.
Watson was in late with the game out of reach, throwing long passes, maybe to pass the College Football Playoff committee's eye test.
Clawson wasn't happy with that.
''They tried to do it and we stopped them, so that was a win at the end,'' Clawson said. ''Because everyone knows what was going on.''