CLEMSON, S.C. — Deshaun Watson and No. 1 Clemson enjoyed another big day and kept on track for the College Football Playoff with a 33-13 victory over Wake Forest on Saturday.
Watson threw for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth, leading the Tigers (11-0, 8-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) to their seventh straight game with over 500 yards.
Watson started the scoring with a 3-yard run, then connected on TD passes of 44 yards to Charone Peake, 11 yards to Deon Cain and 47 yards to Germone Hopper.
The Tigers gained 506 yards against a Wake Forest defense that held Notre Dame to 282 yards a week earlier.
All that stands in the way of a perfect, 12-0 regular season for Clemson is next week’s game at arch rival South Carolina, which lost to FCS opponent Citadel earlier Saturday.
Wake Forest (3-8, 1-6) has lost five straight and seven of its past eight.
Fans rushed the field and fireworks went off as the Tigers finished off its first-ever 8-0 ACC season. It was the Tigers’ 14th straight victory, one shy of tying its record run, and the 700th in program history.
Watson completed 24 of 35 passes for 343 yards. The ACC’s total offense leader also ran for 44 yards.
The Demon Deacons could not move the ball most of the game, gaining only 152 yards for their second-lowest total this season.
Clemson’s biggest worry since beating Florida State two weeks ago has been not slipping up. The Tigers back slid some, especially on defense, in a 37-27 win at Syracuse where they surrendered several long plays and were in a one-score game until the fourth quarter.
That wasn’t the case against the Demon Deacons.
Watson’s 3-yard score followed a 35-yard pass to Hunter Renfrow.
Watson showed off his accuracy on his TD throws. His long passes to Peake and Hopper were both high-arching throws and landed in the waiting hands of receivers running full speed. Watson’s throw to Cain was a laser strike.
Hopper ended with 120 yards receiving on three catches.
While Wake Forest gave Notre Dame a few headaches, it could not slow down Clemson. The Tigers had 318 yards in the first two quarters, surpassing what the Demon Deacons allowed all game vs. the Irish.
The Tigers were without injured starters in 1,000-yard rusher Wayne Gallman and lockdown cornerback Mackensie Alexander. Both warmed up with teammates before the game and the two are expected to be ready next week.
Not everything was perfect. Watson threw his ninth and 10th interceptions of the year in the first half.
Starting linebacker Ben Boulware was hurt in the first half and did not return. Boulware, tied for the team’s tackling lead coming into the game, had a sack and a forced fumble against Wake Forest.
Greg Huegel ran his streak of made field goals to 15 with kicks of 40 and 36 yards. Huegel is a perfect 17 of 17 on field goals in ACC games.
Once the game got out of hand, Clemson tried some odd schemes, perhaps with an eye toward making ACC title game opponent North Carolina wary. It split Watson out wide on both sides of the ball while freshman Kelly Bryant ran the offense.