#1 Clemson Holds Off Syracuse, 37-27

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (Clemson SID) — A wild first five minutes set the tone for a back and forth affair inside the Carrier Dome, but at the end of the day Clemson emerged victorious over Syracuse by a score of 37-27. The win moved the No. 1 Tigers to 10-0 on the season, giving the program their fifth consecutive 10-win season. Clemson will have a chance to go undefeated in ACC play next week against Wake Forest.

Deshaun Watson was once again brilliant for the Tigers, accounting for a career-high 461 yards of total offense. The sophomore signal-caller threw for 360 and rushed for 101, while tossing two touchdowns and adding a third on the ground. His favorite target was Charone Peake, who had a career-high 120 yards through the air and tied another with seven grabs.

Clemson got off to a fast start on the first play from scrimmage, when Watson unleashed a 64-yard strike to Peake. That put the Tigers inside the 10-yard-line of the Orange, and Gallman dashed in on the next play to open the scoring. Watson made it 14-0 with a quarterback keeper on a zone read following a Syracuse fumble on its first play.

A pair of fumbles erased the good vibes, as Syracuse knotted the game at 14 apiece late in the opening quarter. But Watson settled the Tigers again, throwing beautiful touchdowns to Peake and freshman Deon Cain to help Clemson push ahead 31-17 at halftime.

The Orange closed the gap even further, trailing just 31-24 after the third quarter. With the crowd at a fever pitch, Clemson faced fourth-and-two on the opening play of the fourth quarter. Wayne Gallman took a pitch and ran 14 yards to the left for a first down, setting up the second of Greg Huegel’s three field goals Saturday. The freshman kicker is a perfect 15-15 in ACC games for the Tigers.

Clemson ran out the clock over the final 5:57 of the game, cementing the team’s 19th win over a 20-game stretch dating to last season.

The Tigers return to Memorial Stadium next weekend to close out the home portion of the schedule. Clemson takes on Wake Forest at 3:30 p.m. The game has been designated as Military Appreciation Day.

Clemson vs. Syracuse

Postgame Notes

 

TEAM

  • Saturday’s win improved Clemson to 10-0 for just the third time in history. The other seasons were 1948 and 1981. Clemson finished 11-0 in 1948 and won the Southern Conference Championship. Clemson’s 1981 team won the National Championship with a 12-0 record.
  • Today’s win clinched a fifth straight season with at least 10 wins for the Tigers. Clemson is the 15th program in the history of FBS football to have a streak of at least five years with at least 10 wins. Clemson was 10-4 in 2011, 11-2 in 2012 and 2013, 10-3 in 2014 and now 10-0 this year.
  • Clemson improved to 7-0 in the ACC with today’s win. It is just the fourth time Clemson has won seven league games in a season. The 1983 team was 7-0 vs. ACC teams, while the 2012 and 2013 teams finished 7-1. So this is just the fourth time Clemson has won seven league games in a season, and three of the four have been accomplished under Dabo Swinney.
  • Clemson can finish the ACC schedule with an 8-0 record for the first time in school history with a win next week at home against Wake Forest.
  • This was Clemson’s 699th win in history. The program will go for win No. 700 next Saturday against Wake Forest. It will also be Clemson’s 1,200th game in history. Clemson won its 500th game against Wake Forest in 1990.
  • This was the 27th conference victory for Clemson in the last four years. It is an all-time school record for conference wins in a four-year period.
  • This was the 42nd win for this year’s senior class, tying the record of 42 wins set by the 2014 seniors. Next Saturday, this 20-member senior class can set the record on its senior day against Wake Forest. This class is now 42-7, and that computes to a .857 winning percentage, best in school history.
  • Clemson has won 13 consecutive games over two years, tied for the second longest streak in school history and the longest for the program since 1980-81. Only Ohio State had a longer active streak entering today.
  • Clemson has won 19 of its last 20 games over two years, the best 20-game streak since Clemson won 19 of 20 during the 1938-40 era.
  • Clemson is now 8-5 in domed stadiums, including four wins in a row.
  • Today was Clemson’s 35th consecutive win against a team unranked in either poll. It was Clemson’s 37th straight win against a team unranked in the AP poll.
  • Dabo Swinney is now 71-26 as Clemson’s head coach. He can tie his predecessor, Tommy Bowden, for third place on the Clemson coaching wins list with a victory against Wake Forest next week. Bowden was 72-45 from 1999-2008. Frank Howard has the record for wins with 165, and Danny Ford is second with 96.
  • The Clemson offensive co-coordinator team of Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott is now 11-0 since taking over the leadership of the offense for last year’s bowl game against Oklahoma.
  • Clemson totaled 566 yards on offense, a sixth straight game with at least 500. That is a school record.

 

INDIVIDUAL

  • Deshaun Watson moved into sole possession of fifth place in Clemson history with 37 career touchdown passes. He moved ahead of Nealon Greene (1994-97), who had 35.
  • Watson produced 461 yards of total offense Saturday, the highest total of his career. His previous high was 442 this season against Boston College.
  • Watson posted a career-high 34 completions on Saturday, breaking his previous high of 28 set last time out against Florida State.
  • Watson is now 14-1 in his career as Clemson’s starting quarterback, including 11 wins in a row.
  • Watson rushed for 101 yards Saturday, his second 100-yard effort in as many weeks.
  • Wayne Gallman rushed for 66 yards Saturday, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career. That gives the Tigers a 1,000-yard running back four of the last five seasons.
  • Charone Peake tied a career high with seven catches for a career-high 120 yards Saturday, with a touchdown.
  • Peake’s opening play, 64-yard reception was the longest of his career.
  • Deon Cain caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from Watson, his third straight game with a touchdown reception. He needs one next week against Wake Forest to match Sammy Watkins’ freshman record of four straight games, set in 2011.
  • Cain’s three touchdowns have all been 38 yards or longer.
  • Artavis Scott had a career-high 12 catches Saturday. His previous high was 10, on three occasions.
  • Shaq Lawson posted three tackles for loss Saturday, upping his season total to 17.5.
  • Jayron Kearse blocked a first-quarter field goal, the first of his career. It was Clemson’s second blocked field goal of the season.
  • Greg Huegel booted three field goals to increase his ACC total to 15-15 on the season. He is 18-20 overall on field goals.

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