CLEMSON | James Davis rushed for three touchdowns to lead No. 23 Clemson past South Carolina State 54-0 on Saturday.
The Tigers (3-1) posted their first shutout in two years and improved to 22-0 against Championship Subdivision opponents, although this one figured to be closer.
Clemson had either signed or looked hard at several of the Bulldogs standouts like runner Will Ford and receiver Phillip Morris. Clemson coach Tommy Bowden warned his players all week long they'd rarely see a Football Championship Subdivision team like this one.
Plus there was the spice of brotherly competition: Tigers safety Michael Hamlin facing brothers Markee and Marquais of South Carolina State, and Clemson linebacker coach David Blackwell scheming against his brother, Joe, the Bulldogs' run game coordinator.
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South Carolina State (2-2) had no answer for Davis and the Clemson offense.
The Tigers' defense did its part, too. They had three interceptions, one that Chris Clemmons brought back for a touchdown; held the Bulldogs to minus 9 yards rushing in the opening half and had a safety.
Davis had just one TD and had averaged slightly better than 51 yards rushing in Clemson's first three games.
He showed off his power early against the Bulldogs.
Davis had runs of 25 and 23 yards on Clemson's first drive, surpassing the 34 yards he managed all game against North Carolina State a week earlier.
Davis ended the drive with a 1-yard TD.
Two Cullen Harper first-quarter interceptions — only the second time since becoming Clemson's starter in 2007 that he has thrown two picks in a game — kept things close for a while.
Davis and the Tigers, though, would not be stopped.
Davis' second TD came from 5 yards. He punched in another score from a yard away to put Clemson ahead 21-0.
The Tigers added a safety one play later when the ball was snapped past South Carolina State quarterback DeWain Clark, who tried to illegally bat it forward out of the end zone.
Clemson added one more first-half score, this time Harper pounding it in from a yard out to send the Tigers into the half ahead 30-0.
Things didn't improve for South Carolina State after the break, Bulldog quarterback Malcolm Long getting intercepted by Clemmons for a 32-yard touchdown return four plays into the half.
South Carolina State, favored to win its Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, didn't have many positives in this one.
Ford, who rushed for a school-record 322 yards in last year's finale against North Carolina A&T, had only 17 yards rushing through three quarters.
Clemson rolled up 416 yards. The Bulldogs finished with 18 penalties.
Their best chance to score came early, but Blake Erickson was wide right on his 39-yard field-goal try.
The Bulldogs, who got a $235,000 guarantee from Clemson, dropped to 0-4 against Bowl Championship Subdivision foes.
Clemson's last shutout came in 2006, a 51-0 victory over Louisiana Tech.