Zac Brooks

No. 3 Clemson pulls away from N.C. State; now turns page toward Noles

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Three third-quarter touchdowns, including two thrown by quarterback Deshaun Watson, helped No. 3 Clemson (8-0, 5-0 ACC) pull away on the road against upset-minded N.C. State (5-3, 1-3 ACC). The 56-41 victory helped set-up the ACC’s game of the year next week against Florida State.

Watson had himself a ballgame that may get him into the Heisman Trophy conversation. Watson passed for 383 yards and five touchdowns, and he rushed for 54 yards and another score to lead Clemson’s offense to the win. Running back Wayne Gallman had a huge game on he ground, with 173 rushing yards and a touchdown.

What was a fairly balanced game in the first half slanted in favor of Clemson in the second half, although the Wolfpack made an attempt to hang around and keep the pressure on. Clemson handled it well though. Clemson ended the day with 623 yards of offense, while holding N.C. State to 254 yards.

Clemson took advantage of a late opportunity before halftime to snag the lead against North Carolina State. A missed field goal by N.C. State gave Clemson a chance to string two big plays together for a late touchdown, giving the Tigers a six-point lead at the halftime instead of a one or four-point deficit. even if N.C. State did go to the break down, the Tigers were likely to break out in a big way in the second half, and they did just that. Clemson put together three touchdown drives in the third quarter, each driving at least 75 yards. Watson threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Deon Cain to put the Tigers up by two scores, 40-27 and tossed a 35-yard touchdown later in the third quarter to Zac Brooks for a 20-point advantage.

Now, undefeated Clemson will start turning a page toward their biggest game of the 2015 season. As is typically the case, Clemson and Florida State will likely decide which teams will go on to win the Atlantic Division and give the ACC its best chance to be represented in the College Football Playoff. Florida State has won the last three meetings between the two rivals. The winner of this game has gone on to play for the ACC championship each of the past five seasons, and the odds are incredibly good that trend will continue. Florida State has already lost a game in conference play, but would hold a tiebreaker against Clemson if each finished with one conference loss, Clemson’s being to Florida State. Clemson would clinch the ACC Atlantic Division with a win before even getting to games against Syracuse and Wake Forest to wrap up ACC play.

N.C. State will look to rebound next week on the road when the Wolfpack take on Boston College. Boston College lost their fifth straight game Saturday, this one against Virginia Tech. Boston College now must win each of their remaining games in order to become bowl eligible.

Clemson destroying whatever is left of Miami, 42-0 at halftime

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Tempers were mildly flaring before Miami and Clemson even put on full pads. A pregame warm-up shouting match may have been the most fight we could see from Miami today. The Hurricanes are being dominated on their home field by the Tigers, who lead Miami 42-0 at the halftime break.

Clemson marched right down the field on the game’s opening possession. An eight-play, 82-yard drive was finished off with a 34-yard touchdown strike from DeShaun Watson to Jordan Leggett for a quick 7-0 lead. Miami looked to be ready to answer on the ensuing possession, but Brad Kaaya was picked off by Jadar Johnson just inside the Clemson 20-yard line. It took just five plays for Clemson to add a second touchdown with Wayne Gallman running for a five-yard score at the end of a quick 84-yard drive fueled by a 63-yard run by Watson to the Miami 8-yard line. It has not gotten any prettier for Miami.

Zac Brooks and Artavis Scott each pushed into the end zone in short-yardage situations for scores later in the first half, with the two goal-line runners combining for four yards and two touchdowns. At one point Clemson had three touchdown drives that covered more yardage than Miami’s total offensive yardage output, with the Tigers putting together three touchdown drives of at least 80 yards.

Clemson’s offense scored its fifth touchdown of the half with one more 80+ yard scoring drive when Watson ran in from six yards out. With time dwindling, Miami took to the air to try and move into any type of position for a field goal, but Malik Rosier was picked off by Cordrea Tankersley, who returned the interception 36 yards for one more crushing blow before halftime. Rosier replaced Kaaya after the Miami starting quarterback left the game for medical attention in the locker room after taking a big hit early in the second quarter.

This one is flat out ugly, and Al Golden is running out of time and excuses.