On Saturday, it was quarterback Tajh Boyd’s eight touchdowns — five passing and three rushing — that led the No. 11 Tigers (10-1, 7-1 Atlantic Coast) to a 62-48 win over North Carolina State (6-5, 3-4).
Clemson won 10 games in the regular season for the first time since 1981, and perhaps more importantly, has finally gone through a season without losing to a team it was supposed to beat. Coach Dabo Swinney said if the Tigers can knock off No. 12 South Carolina next week, they should be in a BCS bowl even though they won’t play for the ACC title.
“We’ve certainly proven to be one of the better teams in the country,” Swinney said.
Boyd’s eight touchdowns set a school and ACC record. The Tigers gained 754 yards, just two away from the school’s best. Clemson ran 102 plays, the most in school history.
Boyd was responsible for every Clemson touchdown, throwing for TDs of 69, 62, 40, 27 and 7 yards and running for a 4-yard score and two 9-yard touchdowns. He also has broken his own ACC record with 41 TDs so far this season.
Boyd was 30-for-44 for 426 yards and ran for 105 yards — the combined 531 yards set another school record.
“Any time you see smiles throughout the game, it’s fun,” Boyd said. “Overall, it was a fun game.”
The Wolfpack led 24-13 early in the second quarter. It was a situation Clemson hadn’t seen since their only loss of the year, 49-37 to Florida State. The Tigers responded by scoring 42 straight points.
“We’ve been taking care of business pretty early the past few games. It was really good for us to go out there and face some adversity and overcome it,” Clemson center Dalton Freeman said.
Freeman anchors an offensive line that has been critical to Clemson’s success. For the second week in a row, the Tigers o-line faced the team leading the ACC in sacks and didn’t allow the quarterback to go down once.
The Tigers won a share of the ACC’s Atlantic Division title, but their loss to Florida State will keep them out of the title game. Still, that didn’t prevent Swinney from bringing the trophy for winning at least part of the division for the third time in four seasons to his news conference.
N.C. State moved the ball, too. Tobias Palmer also set an ACC record with 496 all-purpose yards. He had 277 yards on kickoff returns and caught seven passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns. Mike Glennon was 29-of-53 for 493 yards and five touchdowns. Four of N.C. State’s touchdown drives took just one play.
The Wolfpack gained 597 yards, and the teams combined for 1,351 yards and the 110 combined points were just seven off the ACC record set by Georgia Tech and North Carolina last week.
In other ACC action:
No. 10 FLORIDA ST. 41,
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Devonta Freeman ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns, Florida State’s top-ranked defense lived up to its billing and the No. 10 Seminoles rolled past Maryland 41-14 Saturday to earn a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
Florida State (10-1, 7-1) led 27-0 at halftime and cruised to its fifth straight victory.
The Seminoles clinched the league’s Atlantic Division title for the second time in three years and will play for its 13th ACC crown on Dec. 1.
EJ Manuel completed 17 of 23 passes for 144 yards and two scores to supplement a running game that gained 237 yards.
In their previous game at Virginia Tech, the Seminoles were held to minus-15 yards rushing.
MIAMI 40, SOUTH FLORIDA 9
MIAMI — Stephen Morris threw for 413 yards and three scores, Herb Waters had an 87-yard touchdown catch for Miami’s longest reception in more than five years as the Hurricanes rolled past South Florida.
Clive Walford (135), Waters (130) and Phillip Dorsett (104) all topped the 100-yard receiving mark for Miami, and Duke Johnson rushed for 66 yards and another score for the Hurricanes (6-5).
Miami is now bowl-eligible, though the school will consider imposing a second straight postseason ban on itself because of the ongoing NCAA investigation into compliance practices.
A year ago, Miami announced its bowl-ban decision one day after winning its sixth game of the season — also against South Florida.
Demetris Murray ran for 108 yards and Maikon Bonani kicked three field goals for the Bulls (3-7), who lost starting quarterback Bobby Eveld to a shoulder injury late in the first quarter.
No. 3 NOTRE DAME 35,
WAKE FOREST 0
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Everett Golson threw touchdown passes of 50, 34 and 2 yards, Cierre Wood scored on a 68-yard run and third-ranked Notre Dame beat Wake Forest to finish the season undefeated at home for the first time since 1998 and keep alive its national championship hopes.
The Fighting Irish improved to 11-0 for the first time since 1989 and need to beat Southern California to finish a regular season undefeated for the first time since 1988, the last time they won a national championship.
The Demon Deacons (5-6) fell to 1-33 all-time against top 5 teams, their lone win coming against No. 4 Tennessee in 1946.
The victory virtually assures the Irish of a berth in a BCS game.
The Irish need to beat USC and likely need either No. 1 Oregon or No. 2 Kansas State to lose to qualify for the BCS title game.