Clemson handed a scrappy Wake Forest unit a 33-13 defeat, vaulting the Tigers to 8-0 in ACC play and its first 11-0 start since the 1981 championship season. The Tigers jumped out to a 20-0 first quarter lead, and played scoreboard back & forth from then on.
Despite some lapses — 2 INTs, multiple near-picks — Deshaun Watson (85.1 QBR) put on another deep ball clinic, connecting for long TDs to Germone Hopper and Charone Peake. Nine Tigers caught passes, and a committee kept the running game moving in Wayne Gallman's absence. The coaches once again dialed up a balanced attack across 82 offensive plays in a comfortable victory.
Save for one play late, the Tigers defense all but eliminated the costly big plays that plagued them in recent weeks. This week saw them return to their dominant, TFL/Sack-fest ways. Wake Forest's points came on a turnover-shortened drive starting at the Tigers' own 11, and a broken coverage TD capping a DPI-extended drive.
Best of all, the team escaped relatively healthy, as Ben Boulware's exit for a stinger isn't expected to keep him out of the South Carolina game. Look for those held out this week to return against the Gamecocks in Columbia.
Speaking of Gamecocks, they had quite a Saturday, dropping a devastating home contest to the Citadel Bulldogs. It seems that they're still searching for rock bottom in Columbia and up next, they get the #1 team in the country. Time will tell if a hungry, motivated opponent takes the field, or if this loss has broken their will to fight (in a football sense, though fisticuffs are certainly in play).
In our first South Carolina preview podcast, we brought on Chili to discuss these games and the national CFB landscape, including this week's action, the playoff pecking order, and pending coaching carousel.