You hear it all the time. “That was a Heisman Moment,” the experts will say after a candidate has a stellar game on a big stage.
Until Saturday’s 56-7 victory over rival South Carolina, Deshaun Watson’s Heisman Moment came in last year’s national championship game when he went off for 473 yards and four touchdowns against Alabama. However, that was last year, and Heisman voters, fans and media alike have been waiting all season to see that kind of performance again from the Clemson quarterback.
On Saturday, against the Gamecocks, Watson finally delivered his Heisman Moment as he threw a record tying six touchdowns—his own school and ACC record by the way—for 347 yards in perhaps his last game at Death Valley.
With Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, the Heisman front runner coming into Saturday, struggling with five turnovers in a loss to Kentucky, does Watson think his performance put him back in the Heisman Trophy race with one game to play—next Saturday’s ACC Championship Game—before the final votes are cast?
“I guess so. It is kind of out of my control. I kind of figured that out last year,” the junior said.
“Hopefully, I did something, but at the end of the day, I just focused on getting the Ws,” Watson continued. “In a couple of weeks, whatever they decide on, the person that wins it, they will deserve it. I’m blessed to have an opportunity to have my name in that category.”
Who says margin of victory does not matter? The Tigers’ 49-point margin of victory is the largest ever by an ACC school over an SEC school. The previous record also came in a Clemson-South Carolina game, when the Tigers topped the Gamecocks 63-17 in 2003, a 46-point margin of victory.
Clemson’s 56 points are the most against South Carolina since the Tigers scored the 63 points against USC in 2003. The 56 points are also the second most points scored by a Clemson team in the 114-year history of the rivalry.
Defense does it too. The seven points by South Carolina were the fewest against the Tigers since also scoring just seven points in the 2004 game, a 29-7 Clemson victory. The seven points tied the Gamecocks’ lowest output of the season, falling to Florida 20-7 on November 12.
Clemson held South Carolina to a season-low 218 yards of total offense, including a season-low 107 passing yards. It is the fewest by the Gamecocks against the Tigers since 2004, when Clemson held them to 197 yards of total offense.
Four times 11. Clemson has won 11-plus games for the second straight season and the fourth time in the last five years after reaching 11 wins just twice prior to 2012.
What a way to go out. In their last game in Death Valley, the 2016 senior class earned its 46th victory to tie the 2015 class for the school record for most victories by a senior class. The 2016 group is 46-7 for a school-record winning percentage of 86.8. The class also tied the school record for most home wins with its 26th, matching the total of the 2014 and 2015 classes.
There is always a first time. The Tigers amassed 622 yards of total offense and 41 first downs in the victory, all-time records for Clemson against South Carolina. The 622 yards of total offense were 11th most in Clemson history and eighth most in Memorial Stadium history.
Clemson has totaled at least 600 yards of total offense in back-to-back home games, a first in program history, after amassing 630 yards in its previous home game against Pittsburgh.
There is nothing wrong being third. Watson became the third player in ACC history to be responsible for at least 100 touchdowns in a career, joining Tajh Boyd (133) and Philip Rivers (112) in that category. Watson has 83 passing touchdowns and 21 rushing touchdowns in his career after totaling six passing touchdowns on Saturday.
Watson had 366 yards of total offense, giving him 10,945 yards of total offense in his career in just three seasons to move into third place in ACC history. He trails only Philip Rivers and Tajh Boyd, both of whom amassed at least 13,000 yards of total offense in their respective four-year careers.
Watson adds to the record books. Watson’s career-high-tying six passing touchdowns were the most in school history against the Gamecocks, as were his 347 passing yards. The six touchdown passes were also the most by a quarterback on either side in the history of the rivalry. The previous records were held by Charlie Whitehurst, who had 302 passing yards and four touchdowns in the 2003 win over the Gamecocks (63-17). South Carolina’s Jeff Grantz threw for five touchdowns in USC’s 56-20 win over the Tigers in 1975.
The six touchdown passes also tied the school and ACC single-game record, which he already held.
17-0. Wayne Gallman totaled 112 rushing yards on 19 carries with one touchdown. In three career games against the Gamecocks, Gallman has totaled 405 rushing yards and three touchdowns. It was Gallman’s 17th career 100-yard rushing game, his fifth of the season and the third of his career against South Carolina.
Clemson is 17-0 when Gallman rushes for 100 or more yards in a season.
Great Scott! Artavis Scott had eight receptions, one shy of the Clemson record against South Carolina, for 88 receiving yards and one touchdown, his fifth of the season. In three career games against the Gamecocks, Scott has 18 receptions for 302 yards and three touchdowns.
With his eight receptions, Scott has 232 for his career to move him into a tie for sixth place in ACC history with former Tiger Aaron Kelly (2005-08). That also put Scott in a tie for second place in Clemson history, trailing only Sammy Watkins’ 240 receptions from 2011-13.
–Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports