For years Clemson and Florida State were the class of the ACC, playing slugfests in front of packed houses with ACC championship and national title implications on the line.
Saturday’s matchup looked more like a spring game with Clemson’s starters facing off against its walk-ons rather than a clash of ACC titans.
Clemson destroyed Florida State 59-10 at Doak Campbell Stadium, tying for the largest margin of defeat ever for FSU. It was FSU’s worst home loss in school history and the most points the Seminoles have allowed at home.
“Unbelievable day... I have been in a lot of really, really sad locker rooms coming down here, so this was a special day,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said. “I’m really proud of our guys. It’s an unbelievable moment.”
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The win marked Clemson’s fourth consecutive victory against the Seminoles and gave Clemson a four-game winning streak against FSU for the first time.
Clemson outgained Florida State 524 to 247 and held FSU to (-21) rushing yards.
“We wanted to make them one-dimensional, take the run away, and we were able to do that,” Swinney said. “That led to us being able to pin our ears back, bring some pressure on the quarterback and disrupt their timing.”
Most of the fans were gone when Seminoles backup quarterback Justin Blackmon found Keyshawn Helton for a 73-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter to cut Clemson’s lead to 49 and to keep the loss from standing alone as the worst in FSU history.
After a scoreless first period the Tigers outscored FSU 52-3 over the second and third quarters as Seminoles fans filed out of the stadium. One FSU fan was caught on camera shirtless and reading a book as Clemson led 52-3 at the end of the third quarter.
Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins recorded his first career rushing touchdown as part of the onslaught, and freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence tossed four touchdown passes, breaking Deshaun Watson’s record for touchdown passes in a season by a true freshman. Lawrence now has 16, passing Watson’s mark of 14 in 2014.
Garrett Williams, whose father played at FSU, also rushed for a touchdown, as did senior running back Adam Choice.
Lawrence finished with 314 passing yards and connected with Amari Rodgers and Tee Higgins for two touchdowns each. Rodgers caught six passes for 156 yards, while Higgins added six grabs for 62.
Clemson backups Chase Brice and T.J. Chase connected for a 5-yard touchdown in the third quarter as Clemson finished with 404 total passing yards and five passing touchdowns. Clemson played all 72 of its players that came on the trip.
Star of the game: It was a career day for Amari Rodgers, who had a career-high 156 receiving yards and two touchdowns on six receptions. Rodgers also had punt returns of 29 and 34 yards.
Play of the game: Clemson quickly increased its 28-point halftime lead in the third quarter as Trevor Lawrence went through his progressions and found Rodgers streaking down the right sideline for a 58-yard score less than a minute into the second half.
Stat of the game: (-21): Clemson held Florida State to (-21) rushing yards, the fewest rushing yards the Tigers have ever allowed in ACC play. It was also tied for the second fewest rushing yards ever allowed behind (-29) rushing yards against Furman in 1996.
Clemson has no contender in the ACC: Florida State might have finished higher than Clemson in recruiting in recent years, but the Seminoles did not belong on the same field as the Tigers Saturday afternoon. Clemson is now 8-0 overall, while every other team other than N.C. State in the league entered Saturday with at least one loss. Clemson drilled N.C. State 41-7 last week.
FSU is undisciplined: The Seminoles committed 16 penalties for 134 yards, had one player ejected for targeting and two others ejected for throwing a punch.
Tee Higgins is a problem: The sophomore caught two touchdowns in the second quarter and finished with six catches for 62 yards and two scores while barely playing in the second half.
Who: Clemson vs. Louisville
When: Saturday, Nov. 3