No.4 CLEMSON SETS RECORD, OBLITERATES WAKE FOREST 63-3 ON THE ROAD
- 2018-10-07 10:26:30
WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The No.4 Tigers were indominable today in their 63-3 road rout of Wake Forest in front of what had to be an Orange-heavy crowd. The Clemson crowd outnumbered the home-standing Deacs to the extent that at one point a Wake Forest offensive lineman was gesturing for the crowd to be silent, not realizing it was the Clemson fans making all the noise.
The Tigers exerted their will on both sides of the ball with an unstoppable running game of historic proportions. They finished with 471 rushing yards, the fourth-most in program history, and 698 total yards, the fifth-most in program history. The 60-point margin of victory is the most ever for the Tigers against an ACC opponent, breaking the previous mark set in their 59-0 win at Miami in 2015.
Amazingly, the Tigers’ offense took a little while to get going. They went three-and-out on their opening possession and Trevor Lawrence, in his first career road start, fumbled the ball on their 41 yard line on the next possession. Lawrence, of course, suffered a head and neck injury last week in his first career start, leaving the Syracuse game in the first half. He showed no ill effects at Wake, though, and soon found his groove with the support of a sensational ground game that averaged 11.8 yards per rush. Lawrence was 20-25, with several screen passes, for 175 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. He also had a 13-yard run but took a couple bad sacks. The Tigers had to punt again on their third possession after completion to Tee Higgins for a first down, their first of the game. With 6:34 left in the first quarter, however, Travis Etienne exploded on the first play of the Tigers fourth possession for a 59-yard touchdown run, and that set off an avalanche of explosive plays and scores.
Remarkably, the Tigers would break three long touchdown runs on their first play from scrimmage—twice by Etienne and again by freshman Lyn-J Dixon. Etienne continues to make a serious push for joining the Heisman discussion with his 4th straight game with more than 100 yards and at least 2 touchdowns. It was his second straight game with 3 touchdowns, after he carried the Tigers to victory against Syracuse last week, scoring all 3 of their touchdowns and breaking 200 yards for the first time in his young career. Etienne has now scored 10 touchdowns over a 15-quarter span! He was #12 in the nation at 8.14 yards per carry entering the game and more than doubled that today with 16.7 yards per carry for a total of 167. He is now #7 in the nation with 9.17 yards per carry. But Etienne wasn’t the entire story of the Tigers’ monumental rushing performance. Adam Choice also set a career record with 128 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, and freshman phenom Lyn-J Dixon went for 163 and 2 touchdowns on 10 carries! Dixon also had a 41-yard reception, so he finished with over 200 yards in just his first game with a significant number of touches. The coaches were raving about Dixon in August camp, saying that he was even further ahead of Travis Etienne at that point last year, and it was around this point of the season that we saw Etienne move up the depth chart. I asked Dabo after the game if they were reaching a comfort level with Dixon that would allow him to start seeing more substantial playing time in meaningful games, and he said that today was certainly a big step forward for Dixon in that regard. But Dabo also pointed out that there is only one ball to go around, and the Tigers have arguably the deepest running back group in the nation. You’re obviously not going to take carries away from Etienne, and it’s hard to take them from Choice after the game he had. Feaster, who hurt his shoulder in the first half and did not re-enter the game, has also been running well. Still, Dixon is something special—very similar to Etienne. He is a big play waiting to happen every time he touches the ball, and it will be harder and harder to keep him off the field—especially as he learns the offense and improves in his pass protection. Dabo told us after a scrimmage back in August that he thought they could have the best and deepest running back group in the nation, and that statement is beginning to look prophetic.
The Tigers’ defense was every bit as impressive as the offense, holding Wake to just 3 points and 249 yards of total offense. Wake was #29 in scoring offense—ironically, one spot ahead of the Tigers—averaging 38.2 points entering the game. They were also #17 in rushing offense, averaging 244 yards per game, but managed just 175 rush yards against the Tigers, with nearly half of them coming in the 4th quarter against the backups. As I suspected would be the case, starting corner Trayvon Mullen, who rolled his ankle last week against Syracuse, did not start the game and played sparingly. Mark Fields started in his place after missing last week’s game with a suspension for rules violation. He played well but dropped an easy interception for the second straight game, having dropped the easiest one he will ever get against Tech in Atlanta. Dropped interceptions has been a recurring theme for the defense this season, and not just by Fields. K’Von Wallace dropped two at Texas A&M, the latter finding its way into the wide receiver’s hands for a touchdown that gave the Aggies an opportunity for a 2-point conversion to tie the game. Fortunately, Tanner Muse did not repeat his drop against A&M and came up with the Tigers’ second interception in as many weeks after recording no interceptions in their first 4 games. It was the 14th straight game with a turnover for the defense. Tre Lamar had 2 of the Tigers’ 3 sacks, and Clelin Ferrell recorded his 6th sack of the season, tied for 8th in the nation and 1st in the Power Five for active career sacks. The Tigers also finished with 12 tackles-for-loss, including 2 apiece for true freshmen K.J. Henry and Xavier Thomas. Chris Register, a team captain for the game, also chipped in 2 TFL’s. The defense forced an impressive 8 three-and-outs in the game. Redshirt freshman DT Jordan Williams was back in action for the first time since bruising his knee in the opener.
Hunter Renfrow not only caught a pass for the 34th straight game, he also completed a pass at quarterback and punted the ball 42 yards! He also made a big block on Dixon's long touchdown run at the end of the game. How's that for a Jack of all trades?! Renfrow doesn't get the national recognition that he should, but he can seemingly do it all on the football field. We haven't seen him play on defense at corner yet, but I'm sure if the Tigers need him to, he can do that at an exceptional level as well. Hunter told us last week that he believes the most important ability is "availability." He is one of the best examples of that concept that I can remember.
Dabo said it was the Tigers’ most complete game, and this is what they are capable of doing to just about any team on their slate when they put it all together. I had a gut feeling that the Tigers would do just that, which is why I predicted a score of 62-20 in my preview (READ HERE). If I knew they were going to play one of their best games on defense as well, I would have predicted 62-3. The one “x factor” I was unsure about was how they would handle the tragic news of C.J. Fuller’s death on Wednesday night. He had so many close friends on the team—especially among that running back group—that it would certainly be understandable if their minds weren’t 100% on Wake Forest. It was a second gut punch in a row after the drama that unfolded the previous week with Kelly Bryant. However, the leadership of the team clearly carried them through, and they ironically played one of their best games ever—particularly from the running backs. It was the first time in program history that the Tigers saw 3 players rush for over 125 yards in a game. Dabo said after the game that C.J. was looking down on them and smiling. The team will attend Fuller’s funeral on Sunday, and they will enjoy a much-needed and well-deserved bye week after a perfect 6-0 start for the 14th time in program history, their 6th in the last 8 years. The Tigers have now won 22 consecutive Saturday games, breaking a streak of 21 games from 2014 to 2016.
I’ll have more to come, so stay tuned!
DABO PC AND POST-GAME INTERVIEWS HERE
- Clemson’s 60-point margin of victory was the program’s largest in conference play in school history.
- The win was Clemson’s 14th win of 60 points or more in school history and the program’s first since a 66-point win against South Carolina State in 2014.
- Clemson gained 698 yards of offense, the fifth-most in a game in school history. Four of the program’s five highest single-game yardage totals have come under Head Coach Dabo Swinney.
- Clemson averaged 10.0 yards per play, the fourth-best single-game average in program history behind games in 1903 (11.2 at Georgia Tech), 1945 (10.7 vs. Presbyterian) and 1947 (10.4 vs. Presbyterian).
- Clemson eclipsed the 400-yard rushing mark for the first time since rushing for 416 against Miami (Fla.) on Oct. 24, 2015.
- Clemson’s 471 rushing yards represent the most in a single game under head coach Dabo Swinney, surpassing the previous high of 416 set in that contest against Miami.
- Clemson’s 471 rushing yards are the fourth-most yards on the ground in program history and the most since Oct. 31, 1981 when the Tigers amassed 536 rushing yards against Wake Forest.
- Clemson averaged 11.8 yards per carry, breaking the previous school record set on Oct. 17, 1903 against Georgia Tech (11.2).
- Clemson reached the 300-yard rushing mark for the second time this season (309 vs. Georgia Southern). Clemson reached the 300-yard rushing mark twice last year and has now posted multiple 300-yard rushing games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2006 (four) and 2007 (two).
- Clemson rushed for 200 yards in a fourth consecutive game for the first time since games 7-10 of the 2015 season against Miami, NC State, Florida State and Syracuse. The two four-game stretches mark the program's longest under Head Coach Dabo Swinney.
- With 1,321 yards in its last four games, Clemson has now reached 1,000 rushing yards in a four-game span for the first time since rushing for 1,101 yards in the first four contests of last season.
- Clemson outrushed an opponent for a sixth consecutive game, the program’s first time outrushing six consecutive opponents since the first six games of the 2017 season. The Tigers have now outrushed opponents in 17 of their 20 games since 2017 and are now 17-0 when outrushing opponents in that time frame.
- Running back Travis Etienne finished the game with 167 total yards on offense, tallying 16.7 yards per carry and three touchdown runs (two for 50+ yards).
- Running back Adam Choice eclipsed the 100-rushing yards mark, posting 128 yards on 10 carries, including a 64-yard touchdown run.
- Running back Lyn-J Dixon recorded 163 yards on 10 carries with a pair of rushing touchdowns. Like Etienne, Dixon also tallied a pair of 50+ rushing touchdowns, including a career-long 65-yarder.
- Between Etienne, Choice and Dixon, Clemson had three players reach the 100-yard rushing mark in a single game for only the sixth time in team history. The game marked Clemson’s first time accomplishing the feat since James Davis (143), C.J. Spiller (127) and Demerick Chancellor (113).
- The performance marked the first time in school history Clemson has had three players exceed 125 rushing yards in a game and the first time two players have surpassed the 160-yard mark.
- The three backs over 100 yards averaged at least 10.0 yards per carry, with Etienne averaging 16.7, Dixon averaging 16.3 and Choice averaging 12.8.
- Of Clemson’s 471 rushing yards, 310 came via five touchdown runs of 50 yards or more.
- In total, Clemson recorded six touchdowns of 50 yards or more, believed to be a first in school history. Clemson entered the game with six plays of 50 yards or more in the first five games of the season.
- With 654 yards in the last four games, Etienne broke Woodrow Dantzler's school record for most rushing yards in a four-game span (623 in 2000).
- Etienne became the first Clemson player to rush for at least three touchdowns in consecutive games since Travis Zachery against Duke (four) and Georgia Tech (three) in 1999.
- Etienne has now rushed for at least one touchdown in six consecutive game to add to his career-long streak of games with a rushing touchdown.
- Etienne became the first Clemson player to rush for a touchdown in six straight games since Wayne Gallman's eight-game streak to end the 2016 season.
- Etienne now has six career games with multiple rushing touchdowns. He has now recorded back-to-back games with multiple rushing touchdowns for the second time in his career (vs. Florida State and The Citadel in 2017).
- Etienne became the first Clemson player to rush for 100 yards in four straight games since Woodrow Dantzler against Wake Forest, Virginia, Duke and NC State in 2000. He is one 100-yard game shy of the school record of five consecutive 100-yard rushing games, set by Kenny Flowers in 1985 and by Raymond Priester in 1996-97.
- Etienne opened the scoring in the first quarter on a 59-yard touchdown run on the fourth play of Clemson’s fourth drive.
- At the time, the 59-yard run was Etienne’s longest of the season and the second-longest of his career, trailing only his 81-yard touchdown run against Louisville in 2017. He later added a 70-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, setting a new long for the season.
- In one game alone, Etienne eclipsed the number of rushing touchdowns of 50 yards or more accrued in 15 games by the 2016 national champion Clemson squad, which recorded only one rushing touchdown that season.
- Playing on his 19th birthday, quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 20-25 passes for 175 yards with two touchdown passes and no interceptions for a pass efficiency rating of 165.2.
- On a 55-yard strike to wide receiver Justyn Ross, Lawrence recorded his 10th touchdown pass of the season and became only the fourth freshman (first-year or redshirt) in Clemson history to throw double-digit touchdown passes, joining Kyle Parker (20 in 2009), Deshaun Watson (14 in 2014) and Charlie Whitehurst (10 in 2002).
- The touchdown reception was Ross’ fourth of his freshman campaign, three of which have come from 50 yards or longer (57 vs. Georgia Southern, 53 at Georgia Tech, 55 at Wake Forest).
- Ross is the first Clemson player to score three receiving touchdowns of 50 yards or more in a single season since Artavis Scott in 2014 (four).
- Wide receiver Tee Higgins set a new single-season career high in touchdown receptions with his third touchdown catch of the season on a 20-yard scoring grab from Lawrence in the second quarter.
- Choice recorded a 64-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. It was the longest touchdown run of his career, surpassing a 39-yarder against Louisville last year.
- Dixon recorded a 65-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter, the first touchdown of his career.
- Quarterback Chase Brice threw the first touchdown of his career in the fourth quarter, connecting on a two-yard scoring pass for Diondre Overton’s third touchdown reception of the season.
- Safety Tanner Muse collected his first interception of the season — the second of his career — in the first quarter. It marked his first interception since Nov. 5, 2016, vs. Syracuse.
- With Muse’s interception, Clemson forced a takeaway in a 14th consecutive contest, the program's longest streak since a 15-game stretch across the 2012-13 seasons.
- Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow extended his streak of consecutive games played with a reception to 34.
- Linebacker Tre Lamar recorded his first sack of the season — the sixth of his career — on Wake Forest’s opening drive. It was his first sack since his highlight reel sack/fumble against Florida State in 2017.
- Lamar added his second sack of the game in the third quarter, matching his career high set against Georgia Tech last season. It marked his second career multi-sack game.
- Defensive end Clelin Ferrell added his sixth sack of the season in the first quarter. He entered the day ranked tied for third in the country in career sacks among active players.
- With the sack against Wake Forest, Ferrell moves into ninth in Clemson history for career sacks.
- Defensive lineman Albert Huggins added his first full sack of the season to close the third quarter.
- Defensive lineman Christian Wilkins appeared in his 50th career game, the most among active Clemson players.
- Tackle Mitch Hyatt made his 48th career start to pull within one start of tying and two starts of breaking Landon Walker's school record for career starts by an offensive tackle (49). Walker also shares the mark for most starts by an offensive lineman with center Dalton Freeman.
- Hyatt passed OG Eric Harmon, OT Jim Bundren, OG Glenn Rountree and PK Aaron Hunt (47 each) for sole possession of the fourth-most career starts at any position in Clemson history.
- Clemson led 28-0 at halftime and has now won 57 of its last 59 when leading after two quarters.
- Clemson shut out an opponent in the first half for the third time this season. Dating back to last year, Clemson has shut out its opponents in the first half of seven of its last 11 games (28-0 vs. Wake Forest, 21-0 vs. Georgia Southern and 27-0 vs. Furman in 2018; 21-0 vs. Miami, 20-0 vs. South Carolina, 38-0 vs. The Citadel and 17-0 vs. Florida State in 2017).
- Clemson recorded a season-high eight three-and-outs defensively. Clemson has now forced 33 three-and-outs through six games this season.
- Clemson held Wake Forest to 71 passing yards and has now held four of its first six opponents in 2018 to double digits in passing yards.
- Clemson’s captains for the contest were linebacker Kendall Joseph, offensive lineman Sean Pollard, defensive lineman Chris Register and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow.
WITH THE WIN…
- Clemson has now opened 6-0 for the fourth straight season and for the sixth time in the last eight years.
- Clemson recorded its 14th 6-0 start all-time (1900, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1948, 1981, 1987, 2000, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017). Clemson won conference titles in eight of their 13 previous 6-0 starts.
- Clemson won its first six games of a season for the sixth time under Head Coach Dabo Swinney (2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017). Clemson's five 6-0 starts under Swinney entering the week were already the most under any head coach in school history (Josh Cody, 3; Danny Ford, 2; Frank Howard, 1; Tommy Bowden, 1; John Heisman, 1)
- Clemson improved to 66-17-1 all-time against Wake Forest. Clemson's 66 all-time wins against Wake Forest are their second most against any opponent in school history, trailing the Tigers' 69 wins against South Carolina.
- Clemson won their 10th consecutive game against Wake Forest, dating back to 2009. It marks Clemson's third 10-game winning streak in series history, including a 15-game streak from 1977-91 and a 10-game streak covering the 1950-60 seasons. Clemson's current 10-game winning streak against Wake Forest is the Tigers' longest active winning streak against any FBS foe.
- Clemson won a 10th straight game against Wake Forest to give the program four active double-digit winning streaks against opponents and its first such active streak against an FBS program. Clemson also has a 31-game active winning streak against Furman (dating back to 1938), a 17-game streak against The Citadel (1932) and a 15-game streak against Presbyterian (1944).
- Clemson earned a fifth straight road win at Wake Forest to tie for the second-longest road winning streak against the Demon Deacons (five, 1978-90) in series history.
- Clemson improved to 25-10-1 all-time in games at Wake Forest. Wake Forest represents one of two road venues in which Clemson has won 25 games all-time (51 wins at South Carolina).
- Clemson improved to 21-4 under Head Coach Dabo Swinney when entering a game ranked lower in the AP Poll than it was in its previous contest. The win was Clemson's 13th straight when entering ranked lower in the AP Poll than in its previous game.
- Clemson has now won 49 of their last 53 games overall.
- Clemson won the 24th of its last 25 games against ACC Atlantic Division opponents.
- Clemson defeated an ACC foe for the 30th time in its last 32 opportunities, including conference championship games, dating back to 2015.
- Clemson secured its 17th victory in its last 18 true road games.
- Clemson earned its 24th victory in its last 27 games away from home, including neutral site contests.
- Clemson has now won 58 of its last 60 against unranked teams.
- Clemson extended its winning streak in Saturday games to 22 to set the longest Saturday winning streak in school history, surpassing the mark of 21 from the 2014-16 campaigns. The current 22-game streak is the longest of any school in the country.
- Clemson improved to 32-0 since 2015 when scoring first.
- Head Coach Dabo Swinney’s improved his career winning percentage to .781 (107-30), moving ahead of Bear Bryant (.780, 323-85-17) for the 21st-best career winning percentage among head coaches with at least 10 years of experience.
- Swinney improved to 10-0 as a head coach against Wake Forest. Wake Forest is one of five ACC schools against which Swinney is undefeated as head coach, a list that also includes Duke (2-0), Louisville (4-0), Virginia (3-0) and Virginia Tech (5-0).
- Clemson is now 50-1 when rushing for at least 200 yards under Dabo Swinney.
- Clemson has a perfect 38-0 record when both passing and rushing for at least 200 yards under Swinney.
- Clemson has now registered a 36-2 record when producing a 100-yard rusher.
- Clemson has now won 60 straight games when holding teams under 23 points dating back to 2010.
- Swinney improved to 23-2 all-time as a head coach against ACC teams from North Carolina. Clemson has won 17 games in a row against teams from North Carolina, with their last such loss coming to NC State in 2011.
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