Clemson looked very much like a national title contender.
Miami looked a team that hit rock bottom.
Deshaun Watson threw for one touchdown and ran for another before sitting out most of the second half and No. 6 Clemson rolled to a 42-0 lead by halftime on the way to embarrassing Miami 58-0 on Saturday – the worst loss in the 90-year history of Hurricanes football.
Wayne Gallman rushed for 118 yards and another touchdown for the unbeaten Tigers (7-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won 35 consecutive games against unranked opponents. The Tigers scored touchdowns on five of their first six drives, knocked Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya out in the second quarter with what was believed to be a concussion and outgained the Hurricanes 567-146.
Stacy Coley had eight catches for 54 yards for Miami (4-3, 1-2), in a game that could doom whatever chance Hurricanes coach Al Golden had of keeping his job much longer. There was booing and a “Fire Golden” chant from the sparse crowd even before the first quarter ended, and the stands – where some fights broke out – were largely empty by the midpoint of the third quarter.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney even kept his team on the field briefly at halftime, telling them in a highly animated speech caught by television cameras that “you win with class, you lose with class. … This is Clemson!”
This is Clemson, now: A team that’s rolling and will face Florida State in two weeks with a chance to take control of the ACC race.
This is Miami, now: A team that seems like it’s heading toward another mediocre season, with a fan base that gets angrier by the week.
Until Saturday, the worst loss in Miami history 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. The Tigers had 33 first downs to Miami’s six.
Clemson marched 82 yards in eight plays for a touchdown to open the game, Kaaya had a pass intercepted near the end zone on Miami’s ensuing drive, and whatever hope the Hurricanes had was soon gone. It was 21-0 after the first quarter, two touchdowns in the final minute of the second quarter – 8 seconds apart, the second being a 36-yard interception return by Cordrea Tankersley – made it 42-0, and the Tigers substituted liberally in the second half.
A horrible day for Miami could have gotten even worse in the fourth quarter, when receiver Rashawn Scott was down and appeared to be not moving for several moments in a scene that had players from both teams kneeling in prayer. Scott eventually got to his feet, but Miami backup quarterback Malik Rosier threw an interception on the first play after the game resumed.
Clemson scored on that drive to make it 58-0, and that prompted a U.S. Congressman to even announce his dismay.
“A new low for @CanesFootball – an absolute embarrassment for what was once a great program,” wrote Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Miami graduate. “Anyone at @univmiami care to try to save it?”
Republished with permission from the Associated Press.