Miami lambasted by Clemson in worst loss in program history

Clemson defensive end Kevin Dodd tackles Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) as he passes during the first half.

Wilfredo Lee/AP

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The loudest cheers from the Miami fans came in the second quarter, many of them even thinking the moment merited a standing ovation.

It was for a punt to the 1-yard line.

That was the reality Saturday, in what became the worst loss in the program’s 90-year history. Quarterback Brad Kaaya departed in the second quarter with what was likely a concussion and No. 6 Clemson wound up embarrassing Miami 58-0 in a game that could doom whatever chance embattled coach Al Golden had of keeping his job much longer.

"Got beat from top to bottom," Golden said. "They outplayed us. They outcoached us. I just told the team it’s completely my responsibility for not getting them ready to play. They just beat us soundly in every facet of the game, period."

There was booing in the first quarter, a "Fire Golden" chant soon afterward and many of those who did show — the announced attendance was 45,211, while the actual number was clearly far less — never returned to their seats after halftime, perhaps a wise move given that Clemson already had a 42-0 lead and was dealing Miami a loss that undoubtedly won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Even members of the U.S. Congress took to Twitter to complain about how far the Hurricanes (4-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) have fallen.

"I know it isn’t far from outhouse to penthouse," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "I don’t celebrate anything from Miami’s bad day. I feel for him. I hate it, man. Al Golden is a great guy. I have a lot of respect for him. I have respect for this university."

The score was a blowout, and so was just about every stat.

Until Saturday, Miami’s worst loss was a 70-14 defeat to Texas A&M on Dec. 8, 1944. It was Clemson’s largest win over an FBS opponent since an 82-24 win over Wake Forest on Oct. 31, 1981. Clemson had 33 first downs to Miami’s six, 567 total yards to Miami’s 146, and outrushed the Hurricanes 416-53. It was the most rushing yards for the Tigers since 2000, the most allowed by Miami since 2008.

"We are all disappointed with today’s outcome," Miami athletic director Blake James said. "Anyone who loves Miami is disappointed. But we have another game next week."

Box score

Golden was hired in December 2010 and before he coached his first game had to deal with the massive mess created by the revelations of rampant rule-breaking by a former booster who is currently in federal prison for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme. All five of Golden’s seasons, in some way, have been affected by that NCAA probe — scholarship reductions are still in place even this season as part of the sanctions levied against Miami.

He was hired to bring Miami back to prominence, then was tasked with the added burden of cleaning up giant problems that he never knew about when taking the job.

They made it through the NCAA saga. But turning around the on-field product, that still hasn’t happened.

Many fans long stopped seeing that as a valid reason for Miami’s problems, such as still never winning an ACC title since joining the league since 2004. Golden has been under fire from a segment of the fan base since at least last season, former Hurricane players took to social media often Saturday — as they have in the past — to call for major changes.

"A new low for (at)CanesFootball – an absolute embarrassment for what was once a great program," wrote U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Miami graduate. "Anyone at (at)univmiami care to try to save it?"

So in the end, Clemson looked very much like a national title contender.

Miami looked like a team that hit rock bottom.

Deshaun Watson threw for one touchdown and ran for another before sitting out most of the second half. Clemson (7-0, 4-0) led 42-0 at the half and enjoyed its biggest road margin of victory in 100 years.