GWINN DAVIS MEDIA (copy)

Dabo Swinney rallies the crowd before the team runs the Hill in the minutes before Clemson's game against Wofford on Nov. 2 Gwinn Davis / Special to The Post and Courier

CLEMSON — In the days leading up to Clemson's game Saturday against FCS foe Wofford, the Tigers' coaching staff showed players video clips of past games against FCS opponents in an effort to guard against complacency. 

That included a Nov. 18, 2017 matchup with The Citadel, which started the first drive, "coming right at us," defensive coordinator Brent Venables said.

"[The Citadel] pancaked Christian Wilkins, mowed some backers down," Venables said, wearing camouflage pants as part of the Tigers' military appreciation day Saturday. "You got to get your guys to understand the enemy."

The Tigers went on to beat The Citadel, 61-3, and on Saturday, they beat Wofford, 59-14. The squash played into the narrative that No. 4 Clemson has played a weak schedule this season, and so Sunday, the Tigers' official Twitter account sent out a tweet referencing some "fun facts" for the "haters."

"Clemson is the only team in the country with seven Power Five wins this season (Alabama, Penn State and Oregon with six)," the tweet read. "Every opponent Clemson has played in 2019 has entered the contest with a .500 or better record."

The message didn't do much to extinguish social media chatter; it inflamed it.  Some users pointed out that Clemson's first opponent of the season, Georgia Tech, had a 0-0 record entering that game, in effect negating the claim that all of Clemson's opponents had a '.500 or better record.'

The back-and-forth banter does contain a shrapnel of importance: The first College Football Playoff rankings are set to be released Tuesday, and some have questioned Clemson's place in the national hierarchy given the defending national champion's schedule.

Coach Dabo Swinney said that similar conversations play out every season.

"Last year, well, we hadn't played anybody, we'd only played one ranked team, and then Notre Dame was the team, so we're supposed to get killed," Swinney said, referencing the Tigers' blowout victory over Notre Dame in the national semifinal. "But then we win, and the next year, it's the same conversation."

The conversation is likely to follow the Tigers through the regular season, which continues next weekend at N.C. State. First, here are seven takeaways from the Wofford game.

Travis Etienne rushes into history books

Running back Travis Etienne had a big day Saturday, rushing for a career-high 212 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.

He scored the 48th touchdown of his career and became the first Tigers player in history to record three career 200-yard rushing games.

"Once I leave, maybe [when] I grow old and I look back on it, I'll see how amazing it was," Etienne said.

Isaiah Simmons finally grabs interception

Linebacker Isaiah Simmons has been one of the Tigers' defensive leaders this season and leads the team in tackles (66) and sacks (six).

Before Saturday, though, Simmons hadn't recorded an interception this season. That changed against Wofford, when the linebacker picked off Terriers quarterback Joe Newman about midway through the third quarter.

Simmons had a return of 17 yards before getting tackled to the ground.

Darien Rencher, Tigers' 'spiritual giant,' scores again

Running back Darien Rencher scored the first touchdown of his college career about two weeks ago at Louisville. It was a big deal for the former walk-on and his family. His father, Darwin, was in attendance and cried after the redshirt junior reached the end zone.

With two surgically repaired knees, former Clemson walk-on is Tigers' 'spiritual giant'

Rencher scored again Saturday, rushing in for a three-yard score with 3:10 left in the third quarter to put Clemson ahead, 56-7. It was also a special moment, given that Saturday was Rencher's birthday.

Home field domination

The win over Wofford marked Clemson's 21st consecutive win at home.

The Tigers have been particularly dominant in their past three games at Death Valley, beating Florida State, Boston College and Wofford by a combined score of 163-35. 

Swinney comments on Willie Taggart firing

Florida State coach Willie Taggart was fired Sunday, after a 4-5 start to the season. Taggart went 9-12 after getting hired before the start of the 2018 campaign, which marked the Seminoles' first losing record since 1976 and the first time the program missed a bowl game in 36 years.

Swinney commented on Taggart's dismissal Sunday shortly after it was announced.

"It is hard to win, and especially to win consistently," Swinney said. "It's a challenge every single year. Certainly when you see a team like Florida State — I mean, it can happen to anybody. It really can."

Spreading the wealth

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence finished 12-for-16 passing for 218 yards and three touchdows in the rout. He tossed touchdowns to all three starting wide receivers — Tee Higgins (22 yards), Justyn Ross (34 yards} and Amari Rodgers (35 yards). Seven Tigers receivers caught passes in the win. 

N.C. State awaits

Clemson plays its penultimate road game of the regular season next Saturday at N.C. State. The Wolfpack (4-4, 1-3 ACC) fell on Saturday to No. 22 Wake Forest, 44-10, and have now lost three of their past four games. 

Follow Joshua Needelman on Twitter at @joshneedelman.

Joshua Needelman covers Clemson for The Post and Courier. He's a Long Island, N.Y., native and a University of Maryland graduate.

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