No. 3 Clemson beats Syracuse 49-14 behind Boyd
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)
And it came against Clemson, the third-ranked team in the nation.
Trouble is, the Tigers have a guy named Tajh Boyd, and he's pretty good, too.
Taking advantage of a bunch of blown coverages, Boyd kept his Heisman Trophy aspirations intact, throwing for 455 yards and matching his school record with five touchdown passes as the Tigers breezed past the Orange 49-14 on Saturday.
''There is a lot of learning experiences that we got out of this,'' Syracuse center Macky MacPherson said. ''They're a good football team. I think we showed improvement, especially in the second and third quarters. But it's tough to lose a game like that at home in front of a Homecoming crowd. That hurts.''
With his talented receiving corps repeatedly running alone in space, Boyd made it look easy. He hit a wide-open Adam Humphries with scoring passes of 60 and 42 yards in the first quarter to help stake the Tigers to a big early lead. And when Syracuse threatened to rally in the final minute of the third quarter, Boyd, standing at his own goal line, hit Sammy Watkins in stride with a perfect, arcing spiral at the 45-yard line, and he easily outraced the lone defender for a 91-yard score.
''That play really sealed the game,'' said Watkins, who had four receptions for 126 yards. ''Tajh did such a great job of getting the ball out so quick and so fast, it's real easy for the wideouts. Being on the road, you have to jump on a team pretty quick to hold them back.''
''I got guys here who flat just go out there and get it, some of the best skill guys in the country,'' said Boyd, who finished 20 of 27 with his first two interceptions of the season. ''We try to put these guys in the best position possible. We played a pretty complete game and are getting close to where we want to be.''
Clemson (5-0, 3-0 ACC) entered the game as one of just 20 undefeated teams remaining in the Bowl Subdivision, and the Tigers made sure they wouldn't slip up against the Orange (2-3, 0-1) and their raucous crowd, a near-sellout 48,961, by taking a 21-0 first-quarter lead.
''I was pleased with those (running plays),'' rookie Syracuse coach Scott Shafer said. ''We have to get rid of some of those negative plays and do a good job improving on the things that were ugly. It's one of those situations where you can't give (the other team) plays and we did.''
The Tigers also upped their streak to 13 straight wins by double digits against unranked teams. Only top-ranked Alabama has a longer streak (21) in the FBS.
Boyd's performance against the Orange pushed his career total offense to 10,421 yards in less than three full seasons. That's third all-time in the ACC, behind only North Carolina State's Philip Rivers (13,582) and Georgia Tech's Joe Hamilton (10,640).
Syracuse had won six straight at home dating to the 2012 season opener and had beaten two eleventh-ranked teams handily in the Carrier Dome the previous two seasons.
Boyd had a nearly flawless first half against Syracuse's blitzing defense, hitting 15 of his first 17 passes for 317 yards and four scores as his receivers repeatedly broke free. Sandwiched between the two scoring catches by Humphries was a 1-yard touchdown run by Zac Brooks that was set up by an 18-yard pass from Boyd to Watkins.
The Tigers upped the lead to 28-7 when Boyd hit Stanton Seckinger in the right corner of the end zone early in the second quarter. Boyd completed his first-half barrage by hitting Martavis Bryant with a 40-yard scoring pass midway through the second quarter for a 35-7 lead.
Shafer became irate when Clemson coach Dabo Swinney tried for a touchdown on fourth down from the Syracuse 5 instead of kicking a field goal in the final minute of the first half. Shafer got some satisfaction when his defense sacked Boyd, and Shafer was contrite afterward.
The Clemson defense held Syracuse to 139 yards of offense in the opening half and nearly half that total came on Smith's long touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter.
Sophomore quarterback Terrel Hunt, making just his second career start for the Orange, finished 8 of 24 for 52 yards with three interceptions and was sacked four times.