CLEMSON, S.C. - Fueled by a 31-point first quarter, No. 3 Clemson routed SC State 59-0 on Saturday afternoon in Memorial Stadium. That opening frame was the highest scoring first quarter in school history. With the win, the Tigers improved to 3-0 on the year.
“Today was a great day,” said head coach Dabo Swinney. “It’s hard to play 92 guys and still get the shutout...I don’t care who you’re playing. I’m so proud of our guys. They played a clean game for four quarters today. This was great for our team, for our spirit and our morale. It was great to get out there today and go play.”
On the offensive side of the ball, the Tigers were led by Deshaun Watson, who was 12-15 passing for 152 yards and three touchdowns, and Ray-Ray McCloud, who totaled 60 yards and two touchdowns on four receptions. Clemson finished with 555 yards offensively, and 92 Tigers saw playing time.
The Tigers started scoring with 11:33 left in the first quarter on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Watson to McCloud, and they did not look back from there. Later in the quarter, the Bulldogs fumbled a Tiger kickoff in the endzone and Denzel Johnson pounced on the ball for his first career touchdown, upping the lead to 21-0 with 5:20 remaining in the first quarter.
Nick Schuessler then added to the scoring with his first career touchdown pass, a 45-yard connection with freshman Diondre Overton. A 26-yard field goal from Greg Huegel rounded out the first quarter, giving the Tigers a 31-0 lead.
Second-quarter action picked up with a second touchdown pass from Watson to McCloud, marking McCloud’s first career game with multiple scores. One more touchdown from Watson to Deon Cain later, and the Tiger took a 45-0 lead into halftime. Clemson’s 45 first-half points were the most scored in a first half since the Tigers’ matchup with Ball State in 2012, when Clemson also scored 45 points.
With the third and fourth quarters shortened to 12 minutes each, the Tigers kept rolling. Bringing the Clemson point total over 50 was Tavien Feaster, who scored his first career touchdown midway through the third quarter. Trevion Thompson also hauled in his first career touchdown in the third quarter on a seven-yard strike from Kelly Bryant. With Bryant’s scoring pass, Saturday’s game marked the first time three Tiger quarterbacks threw a touchdown pass in a game since Clemson’s win over Presbyterian College in 2010.
The Tigers travel to Atlanta, Ga., for a Thursday night matchup with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at 7:30 p.m. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN.
Clemson Team Notes
• Clemson and SC State have met four times in school history, and Clemson has outscored the Bulldogs 238-20.
• Clemson is now 86-1-1 when totaling at least 500 yards of offense. The 555 yards of offense the Tigers put up today is the most since totaling 552 against Wake Forest in 2015.
• Clemson is now 28-2 in the last 30 games when it has at least 300 passing yards (302 today).
• Clemson is now 34-1 under head coach Dabo Swinney when rushing for at least 200 yards (222 today) and has now won 30 in a row dating to 2010.
• Clemson has won 18 consecutive regular-season games. Clemson’s last loss in regular-season play was at Georgia Tech in 2014. The Tigers play at Georgia Tech on Thursday evening.
• The Tigers are now 65-19 in the decade of the 2010s. That is a 77.4 winning percentage, the best for a decade in Clemson history. This decade is now ahead of the decade of the 1980s, when Clemson was 87-25-4 for a 76.7 winning percentage. Clemson had the fifth-best winning percentage in the nation in the decade of the 1980s.
• Clemson is 3-0 for the second straight year and the fifth time in the last six years. Clemson was 3-0 just six times in the 48 seasons before Swinney became the full-time head coach in 2009.
• Clemson is now 31-0 against FCS teams.
• Today was the 400th game at the FBS level for Clemson associate head coach Dan Brooks.
• Clemson has now won 18 consecutive home games, a school record. It is the second longest active streak in college football behind 22 in a row by Florida State.
• Swinney is now 48-6 in home games. That 88.9 winning percentage is the best in Clemson history given a minimum of 15 games.
• Today was Clemson’s 40th consecutive win over a team that was unranked in either of the two national polls. It was the 42nd win in a row against a team not ranked in the top 25 by AP.
• Clemson’s last loss to an unranked team was in 2011 at NC State. Today was the 43rd win in a row over an unranked team at home. The last time Clemson lost to an unranked team at home was against Georgia Tech in 2008. That was Swinney’s first game as Clemson head coach.
• Clemson played 92 players in Saturday’s game.
• Fifteen Tigers recorded a catch, most in school history.
• Five Tigers completed a pass, most in school history.
• Clemson scored two touchdowns with 5:20 on the clock in the first quarter, the first time in school history the Tigers have scored “simultaneous” touchdowns.
• Clemson’s 31 points in the first quarter marks the highest-scoring first quarter in school history. The previous high was 28 points at Duke in 2012.
• Clemson’s 31 first-quarter points marks the fourth-highest scoring quarter in school history.
• Clemson’s 45 first-half points are the most scored in a first half since Ball State in 2012, when Clemson also scored 45 points.
• Saturday’s game against SC State was the first time three different quarterbacks (Watson (3), Schuessler (1), Bryant) (1)) threw a touchdown pass in the same game since Clemson’s win over Presbyterian College in 2010. (Kyle Parker (2), Donny McElveen (1), Tajh Boyd (1).)
• Saturday was Clemson’s first shutout since a 58-0 win at Miami (Fla.) on Oct. 24, 2015.
• Fifty-nine points in Clemson’s largest margin of victory since defeating SC State 73-7 in 2014.
Clemson Individual Notes
• Deshaun Watson is now 21-2 as Clemson’s starting quarterback, the best winning percentage in Clemson history (91.3). The starting quarterback is ahead of DeChane Cameron (1988-91), who was an honorary captain for today’s game. Cameron was 19-4-1 for a 81.3 percentage.
• Watson threw three touchdown passes today, giving him at least one touchdown toss in 18 straight games and at least one TD pass in 23 of his 26 career games.
• With 28 yards today, Artavis Scott passed Jacoby Ford for No. 10 on Clemson’s career receiving yards list (1,995).
• Ray-Ray McCloud caught two touchdowns, his first career game with multiple scores.
• Denzel Johnson turned in his first career recovered fumble, falling on a fumbled kickoff return in the endzone for his first career touchdown.
• Diondre Overton hauled in his first career reception on a 45-yard touchdown pass from Nick Schuessler.
• Schuessler’s first quarter touchdown pass to Overton was his first career touchdown toss.
• Jadar Johnson recorded his second-career interception against SC State. Johnson hails from Orangeburg, S.C., home of the Bulldogs.
• Adrien Dunn recorded a career-long 30 yard punt return in the second quarter, the second punt return of his career.
• Tavien Feaster scored his first career touchdown in the third quarter, a four-yard scoring run.
• Trevion Thompson grabbed his first career touchdown in the third quarter, a seven-yard strike from Kelly Bryant.
• Bryant’s seven-yard touchdown pass to Thompson in the third quarter was Bryant’s first touchdown pass of his career.
“Today was a great day. It’s hard to play 92 guys and still get the shutout, I don’t care who you’re playing. I’m so proud of our guys. They played a clean game for four quarters today. This was great for our team, for our spirit and our morale. It was great to get out there today and go play.
“I’m proud of how we started the game. I don’t think our receivers had any drops in the first half. Coming out and getting in rhythm was huge for us. It was great to see us getting that rhythm going. That’s how we play.
“There were a lot of good things involved in the game today. It was nice to get a lot of the backups in the game and we got to play a lot of linemen. Greg Huegel has done a great job for us this year. I know he’s mad he missed one today, but he’s had 10 touchbacks.
“It’s also nice to see our guys taking pride in the return game. Ray-Ray McCloud leads the country in returns and he’s such a weapon for us. He also had a great game on offense.
“I’m glad that we’re 3-0. The ‘preseason’ is over now and we have eight straight conference games. We have a quick turnaround this week and we have a lot of work to do to get ready for Georgia Tech.
“It was also fun to see our guys celebrate (associate head coach) Dan Brooks in the locker room after the game. Today was his 400th career game. To have that type of longevity as an assistant is incredible, and there’s no better man out there. I’m glad I was here to be a part of that.
“I really appreciate our fans today. There was a great turnout and a lot of energy from the start. We hope to see a great crowd in Atlanta, too.”
SC STATE HEAD COACH BUDDY POUGH QUOTES
“Things didn’t go as well as we would have liked to, but one thing we can take away from this experience is that this will prepare us for our conference. This three game (stretch) is a little ambitious for us, but we play hard in every game. Hopefully, it will sharpen us and give us more momentum going into the Florida A&M game.
“We have traveled all over the world, we have made a few bucks and now we have it behind us. We knew why we did it and let’s hope that it has us ready to play on our level. I was concerned that Clemson had not played that well on offense and was afraid at what might happen. I knew that was a bad sign.
“We did not execute well. A lot of that had to do with coach (Dabo) Swinney’s team.”
CLEMSON PLAYER QUOTES - OFFENSE
Kelly Bryant, QB
On throwing his first touchdown pass:
“It felt really good, getting some playing time and getting to throw it in the endzone. It is something I will always remember, the first one. It was a really good feeling.”
On young guys getting some playing time:
“The first team really handled business, so the backups got a lot of reps out there. You never know when something may happen, so getting those reps under our belt will help us out down the line.”
On having game film of himself to watch:
“It helps a lot. We have practice film, but practice and game film is a little bit different. To see yourself out there against another opponent will help us all get better.”
Cornell Powell, WR
On extended playing time:
“It was a great feeling, going out there, running down the Hill, playing for Clemson, like it always is. We are happy with the outcome. We got back on track. We have a short turnaround, but we will be prepared Thursday.”
On how he feels about his performance:
“I did some good things out there, but I definitely have things I can improve upon in a lot of areas. I’m still learning, still growing, but I am ready to come back tomorrow and look at the film and get ready for Thursday.”
On Diondre Overton’s long touchdown:
“I was just as excited for him like I caught the ball. He is my boy.”
CLEMSON PLAYER QUOTES - DEFENSE
Clelin Ferrell, DE
“We just wanted to play a clean and complete game. So basically, we just focused on technique and stuff like that. We knew we had to play hard because they were going to try and give it their best shot, but trying to have a clean and complete game was our biggest thing.”
On preparing for Georgia Tech’s offense:
“We put in work over the summer and in fall camp. But we had a plan to be ready for them, and we have to buy into the plan. It’s a quick turnaround, but we know a lot of stuff that they do that’s uncommon to a lot of guys. A lot of guys might be down there starting against the triple option for the first time. But we have a good plan for it. We trust our coaches, and we have to buy into the plan.”
On young defensive players getting quality playing time:
“We played a lot of guys. That was really good for us...some of the guys who play behind (the starters) getting experience like that. We do have a lot of young guys on our whole defense, so that was very big for us, getting everybody to play. That was good.”
On his first sack:
“It was fun getting my first sack today. That was big for me. The biggest difference was I just went out there playing to win, not focusing on getting a sack or making tackles or making plays...just playing to win. If you did, then those things will come to you.”
Jalen Williams, LB
On getting a defensive shutout:
“It’s always good. That’s the ultimate goal every day, to get a shutout.”
On how the defense approached the game:
“We prepare the same way. We don’t care if it’s Auburn or if it’s SC State. Same practice schedule. We still watch film on them. We practice just as hard with full pads. We don’t take them any different than who they are.”
On the team’s outlook heading into conference play:
“We’re confident. Why wouldn’t we be? We’re 3-0. We played a good game, pitched a shutout. And, now, SC State is out of our head, and we’re going to be back in here tomorrow, watching film on Georgia Tech.”