CLEMSON | When Clemson coach Dabo Swinney agreed in the spring to Coastal Carolina coach David Bennett's request for the teams to dress in Halloween colors, Swinney added one condition in his e-mailed reply:
Leave the tricks at home.
The Chanticleers complied.
Clemson was treated to a Saturday afternoon in which it could afford the expected letdown following the victory against Miami and still prevail handily, wiping out Coastal Carolina 49-3.
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There were few frills, an occasional thrill and minimal C.J. Spiller as the Tigers (5-3) overwhelmed the FCS Chanticleers (3-5) to gear up for the ACC stretch. Clemson also remained perfect against FCS teams, improving to 23-0.
"I thought they did what they had to do and what good teams do," Swinney said. "This is a game we should have won and a team we really should show up and take care of business against. And I thought we did that."
Clemson can reach the league title game if it wins its final three conference games: Florida State at home, at N.C. State and Virginia at home. FSU's nail-biting victory against N.C. State set the stage for a showdown Saturday in Death Valley between two teams with offensive momentum.
The Tigers didn't exactly pick up where they left off at Miami, committing a slew of mental miscues and running a number of sloppy plays, suggesting intensity might have been lacking.
Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele slammed his visor after Coastal Carolina hit a 32-yard field goal with 4:02 remaining against Clemson's second- and third-string defenders, nixing the team's quest for its fourth shutout this decade.
"It was about a teaching moment," Steele said. "You put that orange helmet on, you play to a certain standard. We let a shutout slip away, and those are hard to come by.
"I'm happy for the guys. But just to walk over there and say, 'that's OK' - it ain't OK. I guess I go over there and sing and pat them on the back and laugh, but ... "
The mood was otherwise jovial in Clemson's locker room, perhaps as much for what didn't happen as what did.
Standout defensive end Da'Quan Bowers went to the locker room on crutches after a player rolled onto his right leg on the first play.
But an MRI revealed Bowers only had strained a posterior cruciate ligament, and both Bowers and Swinney expected Bowers to play against Florida State.
Furthermore, the Tigers emerged without any other substantial injuries, including any aggravation to Spiller's turf toe.
Spiller's Heisman candidacy figures to take a hit after he rushed for 27 yards on five carries, his last touch a 6-yard touchdown run with 10:56 left in the second quarter to give Clemson a 21-0 lead.
Seven different players accounted for the Tigers' seven touchdowns.
Starting quarterback Kyle Parker completed 7 of 16 passes for 70 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions in a little more than a half of work, while senior receiver Jacoby Ford caught one touchdown and threw his first career score via a lateral early in the second quarter.
The reserves expanded on a 21-0 halftime advantage when quarterback Willy Korn threw for one touchdown and rushed for another in the third quarter. Second-string backs Andre Ellington (88 yards, six carries) and Jamie Harper (76 yards, 13 carries) led the team in rushing while adding one score apiece.
"We came out and obviously expected to win, and we did that," Parker said. "The biggest thing now is having a better week of preparation and hopefully be better execution-wise."
Coastal Carolina did not cross midfield until its 12th possession, on its scoring drive. And for the fourth time in eight games, an opposing quarterback failed to reach 100 yards passing against Clemson; the Chanticleers' three quarterbacks went a combined 5-for-17 for 27 yards and two interceptions.
"With the win we had against Miami, it would have been really easy for us to come out and go through the motions and only win by 14 or 21," Korn said. "I think it said a lot about our team's focus to come out and score a lot of points and get a lot of backups in."