Last week, with an injured quarterback, Clemson barely survived against Syracuse. Saturday, at Wake Forest, there were no survivors.
A motivated Tigers team manhandled Wake Forest, winning 63-3 in the worst home loss in Wake Forest history. The scoring margin also appears to be the largest in a conference game in the history of the ACC, and it’s Wake’s biggest loss anywhere since falling to Oklahoma 63-0 in 1974.
“Well that was just a good old-fashion butt-whipping,” Wake coach Dave Clawson said.
Clemson scored on touchdown runs of 59, 70, 64, 65 and 52 yards, exceeding Wake’s total offense yardage for the day on those five plays. The Tigers’ 471 rushing yards were the fourth most allowed by Wake in school history and the most in 37 years. Clemson’s 698 yards of total offense were the fifth-most in Wake defensive history.
Wake, who fired its defensive coordinator after surrendering 56 points in a home loss to Notre Dame two weeks ago, took a historic step backward.
“We kept things super simple today, super simple,” Clawson said of the defensive strategy. “This was the simplest game plan we have had in years.”
Decimated by injuries, the Deacs had young players seeing significant time on defense, and the Tigers took advantage.
“You’re going against Clemson and you have guys flaring around, missing tackles. You’re playing guys out of position, playing true freshmen, all against the No. 4 team in the country,” Clawson said. “It’s baptism by fire. … This is a tough game to learn from, this is not a game where you want to be putting guys in at new positions and switching things up because they’re so good and they executed at such a high level.”
Clemson had three running backs top 100 yards, as the Demon Deacons couldn’t stop anyone on the depth chart. Travis Etienne, who led the Tigers’ dramatic come-from behind win against Syracuse last week, had 167 yards and three scores. Backup Adam Choice had 128 and a touchdown, and fourth-stringer Lyn-J Dixon had 163 and two scores.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, returning after being knocked out of last week’s game, was 20-of-25 passing with two touchdowns, including a 55-yarder to Justyn Ross.
Clemson’s defense also held Wake’s offense in check, harassing quarterback Sam Hartman into 7-of-20 passing for a mere 74 yards. Hartman was running for his life most of the day, getting sacked three times and hurried on countless other occasions.
Wake will head into the bye week, looking to get healthy.
“We just ran out of players,” Clawson said. “We have seven scholarship linebackers and five of them are hurt. … You’re playing with a skeleton crew. You’re playing guys that aren’t ready to play and you’re playing against a top-five team in the country.”
The team, who hasn’t played on the road yet this season, will use the extra week looking for answers.
“We got embarrassed,” Clawson said, “and I’ve got to own it.”