Deshaun Watson threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third before leaving No. 3 Clemson’s 54-0 win over Syracuse on Saturday with a bruised shoulder.
Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said Watson’s injury was not serious and the team announced after halftime their junior Heisman Trophy contender could return if needed. With the Tigers up 30-0 at the half, it was hardly necessary and Watson spent the final two quarters high-fiving teammates and chatting up coaches while Clemson improved to 9-0 for a second straight season.
Watson finished with 169 yards passing and 39 rushing to keep the Tigers (6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference, No. 2 CFP) on track for the ACC title game. They can clinch the ACC Atlantic Division next week against Pitt.
Syracuse (4-5, 2-3) had hoped to catch Clemson napping after the Tigers’ dramatic, 37-34 win at Florida State last week.
However, any upset chances left once Orange quarterback Eric Dungey was knocked out in the first-quarter following a hard hit by linebacker Dorian O’Daniel.
Dungey, the ACC leader in passing yards and completions per game coming in, returned from the locker room in shorts and a ball cap as backups Austin Wilson and Zack Mahoney finished up.
Clemson receiver Deon Cain had two TD catches and 125 yards on five catches.
It was Clemson’s first shutout since defeating Miami 58-0 last year and the first time Syracuses was held without points since a 56-0 loss to Georgia Tech in 2013.
Syracuse: The Orange had come off two straight wins, but coach Dino Babers program is not yet ready to take down teams like Clemson.
Clemson: With their toughest regular-season games behind, the Tigers are rolling much like they did down the stretch a year ago. That’s a dangerous prospect for their potential ACC title game opponent or for other national title contenders.
Syracuse: The Orange face North Carolina State next Saturday, the first of two straight games at the Carrier Dome.
Clemson: The Tigers play their final ACC regular-season home game with Pittsburgh, a team it has not faced since the Panthers joined the league before the 2013 football season.