No. 5 Clemson routs SC State 59-0 in shortened game
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Clemson scored early and often in the first half against South Carolina State, and both coaches decided to shorten Saturday's game in what turned into a 59-0 rout.
The game was such a mismatch that the fifth-ranked Tigers (3-0) scored two touchdowns in the first quarter with no time running off the clock. An NCAA rule allows for games to be shortened by time if the coaches agree.
Clemson led 45-0 at the half against the FCS Bulldogs (0-3), and the third- and fourth quarters were 12 minutes each instead of the usual 15 minutes.
Deshaun Watson threw three early TD passes to get the Tigers rolling.
Clemson, with three wins to open the season for the fifth time in the last six years – is 31-0 against FCS teams.
The lopsided score comes after Watson told fans he was sorry for the 30-24 win over Troy for any ''negative energy'' he brought to that game. This time, he was the 4-of-4 on the opening drive that ended with a 7-yard TD pass to Ray-Ray McCloud.
Watson and McCloud also connected on a 36-yard scoring pass. Watson threw a 17-yard TD to Deon Cain in the second quarter before heading to the sideline.
The strangest sequence of the game involved a first-quarter gaffe by South Carolina State's Ahmaad Harris on a kickoff return after a Clemson TD. He flipped the ball to the official in the end zone before taking a knee to stop the action. Clemson's Denzel Johnson recovered the fumble – 14 points, no time off the clock.
Watson completed 12 of 15 passes for 152 yards.
SOUTH CAROLINA STATE: The Bulldogs will be grateful to return to their Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference after losing its first three games against FBS opponents by a combined 150-24 score.
CLEMSON: The Tigers were looking for offensive confidence and got some in the blowout win. However, things won't be so easy when Clemson starts ACC play on Thursday night at Georgia Tech. Watson and his offense, some who thought would be the most dynamic attack college football had seen in years, will need to prove their skills against bigger opponents if they hope to return to the College Football Playoffs.
SOUTH CAROLINA STATE: Bulldogs open MEAC play, and face their first non-FBS opponent, at Florida A&M on Saturday.
CLEMSON: The Tigers also start conference play in the ACC at Georgia Tech on Thursday night. Clemson has lost its past five games in Atlanta with its last victory at Georgia Tech coming in 2003.