WINSTON SALEM, N.C. — Fourth-ranked Clemson throttled Wake Forest 63-3 on Saturday at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, N.C.
The Tigers remained unbeaten (6-0, 3-0 ACC) while the injury-beaten Demon Deacons fell to 3-3 (0-2 ACC).
Here’s a look at Clemson’s dominating win, the largest margin of victory by the Tigers over an ACC opponent in school history:
Clemson got off to a rocky start offensively, it went three-and0out on its first drive, followed it up with a Trevor Lawrence fumble on third down and a four-play drive ending in a punt on the ensuing drive.
Lucky for the Tigers, their defense held the Demon Deacons to 28 total yards in the first half and 0 yards on the ground giving the offense time to find its groove. Travis Etienne put Clemson ahead 7-0 on a 59-yard touchdown run on first down and it never looked back.
Clemson jumped up 14-0 at the start of the second quarter on a three yard touchdown run by Etienne. It began to pile it on with a five play 70-yard touchdown drive on the ensuing drive culminating in a 55-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Lawrence to Justyn Ross putting the Tigers up 21-0.
For the second straight week Clemson found its identity in the run game to garner offensive momentum and it paid off as Etienne, Adam Choice and Lyn-J Dixon each reached the end zone on the ground and each with a scoring run greater than 64 yards.
Clemson had five rushing touchdowns of 50 or more yards.
Lawrence finished the day 20-for-25 for 175 yards and a pair of touchdowns including the one to Ross and another of 20 yards to Tee Higgins at the end of the first half. Statistically the freshman was nearly perfect with the exception of the fumble, but did he not have much opportunity to throw the ball down field.
Wake Forest was completely dominated on its home turf, garnering just three points on a Nick Sciba field goal with 8:22 remaining in the third quarter. Clemson wrapped up its largest margin of victory over an ACC opponent in the 63-3 win.
What went right?
Clemson clicked on all cylinders Saturday afternoon particularly in the running game. It was one of the most dominate rushing performances in Clemson history and the fourth highest run total with 471 yards on the ground.
Three running backs amassed greater than 100 yards for the first time since the Tigers’ win over Louisianna Tech in 2006 where James Davis, CJ Spiller and Demerick Chancellor accomplished the same feat. Etienne led the way with 10 carries for 167 yards and three touchdowns, Dixon finished with 10 carries for 163 yards and two touchdowns and Choice racked up 128 yards and a touchdown on his 10 carries.
Almost everything went right for the Tigers as the defense held the Demon Deacons to 249 yards on the day and a measly three points. Wake Forest averaged 3.2 yards per play with a large chunk of its yardage coming against the second and third string defenses late in the game.
What went wrong?
It is difficult to say a team had offensive struggles when it finishes with 698 yards of total offense but the Tiger offense did not get off to a particularly peachy start going punt, fumble, punt on its first three drives before leaning on the run game to grab some momentum.
Clemson finished the day 5-for-15 on third downs, good for 33.3 percent average, given you don’t need third down conversions if you can score on plays greater than 50 yards, which it did six times over the course of the game.
The game changing moment was when the Clemson defense forced the Demon Deacons to a three-and-out and on a negative 19-yard drive with 8:55 in the first quarter following Lawrence’s fumble, allowing the offense to strike first on Etienne’s 59-yard touchdown run.
The Tigers set the tone early and did not look back from that point, jumping up 35-0 before Wake Forest scratched the scoreboard in the 60-point walloping in Winston-Salem.