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.