CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Weathermen were astonished when Hurricane Patricia made landfall Saturday as the strongest ever on record. Fans and commentators were equally astonished as the Miami Hurricanes looked more like a tropical depression as Clemson rolled to the largest victory ever against Miami.
The 58-0 shellacking of Miami would prove the final nail in the coffin for coach Al Golden, who was fired Sunday.
“Our guys played about a flawless game. It was a complete performance, all three phases. To be able to get those guys, all of our backups, that amount of playing time, bodes well for the rest of the season,” Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney said.
The Tigers got off to a quick start with 21 points in the first quarter. Deshaun Watson connected with Jordan Leggett for a 34-yard touchdown pass that gave Leggett the school record for consecutive games with a touchdown reception for tight ends. Wayne Gallman and Zac Brooks would also tack on first quarter touchdowns.
The second quarter saw the Tigers slow down a bit for a while, but they would score twice in a span of 8 seconds just before the half. Following a Deshaun Watson touchdown run, Miami quarterback Malik Rosier made an ill-advised pass that Cordrea Tankersley picked off and returned for a touchdown. That gave the Tigers a 42-0 lead at the half.
Clemson brought out its youth in the second half, giving the starters a breather after building a 45-0 lead. Nick Schuessler, the second string quarterback behind Deshaun Watson, struggled to complete a pass on his two drives and he would give way to true freshman Kelly Bryant. Bryant, on his second rush attempt of the day, would dash 59 yards for a touchdown, outrunning everyone in sight in the process.
Defensively, Clemson looked stellar as Miami tallied only 146 yards on the day. The Tigers also forced three turnovers, one more than the Hurricanes had given up all season. Shaq Lawson picked up two big sacks, the second knocking Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya out of the game with a concussion.
One of the brightest spots for Clemson was the play of the backups toward the end of the game. Particularly impressive was Van Smith who came flying in on several plays with big hits and picked up an interception. Smith would actually lead the Tigers in tackles after playing the entire fourth quarter.
Clemson only had two miscues on the day: The first was a fumble by freshman Ray Ray McCloud on a punt return and the second was a missed extra point.
Clemson will head to N.C. State next to play the Wolfpack in Raleigh on Halloween.
Reach James Inabinet at 803-635-4016.