Clemson is still in a class of its own in the ACC.
The top-ranked Tigers welcomed No. 7 Miami to town on Saturday night and came away with a commanding 42-17 win.
And if it weren’t for a few Clemson mistakes, the score would have been even more lopsided. The only time Miami reached the end zone before garbage time came on a self-described “terrible” decision from head coach Dabo Swinney.
Swinney sent his field goal team onto the field for a 61-yard try in the final seconds of the first half. Predictably, the low-trajectory kick was blocked, scooped up by Miami and returned for a touchdown as time in the first half expired.
The play, one of three blocked field goals for Miami in the game, gave the Hurricanes a brief shred of hope that they could pull a gigantic road upset, but it would not last long.
The teams traded punts to open the second half, until Travis Etienne made a play only he could make. The All-American running back tight-roped the sideline and exploded for a ridiculous 72-yard touchdown.
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) October 11, 2020
It was one of many highlight-reel plays for Etienne on the evening. He rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns while also catching eight passes for 73 yards in the win. Trevor Lawrence threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns, spreading the ball to eight different targets in the process. Tight end Braden Galloway led the way with 74 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
His first came on a nifty throwback screen where the entire offensive line froze before getting out in the open field to guide Galloway to the end zone.
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) October 10, 2020
It was a play that set the tone as Clemson thoroughly outplayed another outmatched opponent. Miami, though, has clearly shown improvement. Last year, the Hurricanes limped to a miserable 6-7 finish that included a 14-0 loss to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl.
In the offseason, Manny Diaz brought in D’Eriq King, a graduate transfer quarterback from Houston, and Rhett Lashlee as his offensive coordinator. That pairing was on display in Miami’s 3-0 sizzling start, but never had much of a chance against the Tigers. King rushed for 84 yards and a score, but was just 12-of-28 for 121 yards and two interceptions through the air.
It was just further evidence of how wide the gap is between Clemson and the rest of the conference. And it’s likely that Swinney won’t face a ranked team until Nov. 7 when they have to travel to face Notre Dame, which is currently ranked No. 5 in the country.
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