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Dominating the U: No. 6 Clemson blasts Miami 58-0

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Dominating the U: No. 6 Clemson blasts Miami 58-0

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) celebrates after a play during the first half of an NCAA College football game against Miami, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The home team made its presence known to its visitor with a little jawing Saturday morning at Sun Life Stadium.

And then the Tigers blew right through the Hurricanes as if they weren’t even there.

“That had us more hungry. We knew then they were ready to put up a fight, and we had to fight them back,” Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson said. “But it’s a matter of how we play, not how we talk. Their team was doing most of the talking. We just played the whole time.”

Clemson pummeled Miami 58-0. The week the world celebrated Back to the Future Day, those three words and that final score would have made no sense whatsoever in 1985, when Michael J. Fox rode in DeLoreans and Miami was in the midst of winning four national titles in a decade-long span.

But that’s the new reality in the ACC, where Clemson (7-0, 4-0 ACC) surged closer to its conference and College Football Playoff dreams with its largest margin of victory on the road in 100 years — going back to a 94-0 win at Furman on Sept. 25, 1915.

Meanwhile, Miami (4-3, 1-2) suffered its worst loss in school history, another superlative which speaks for itself.

Pregame pleasantries extended by the Hurricanes caught the eyes of observers, when coaches and managers had to ensure no physical altercation between the teams about an hour before kickoff. The Tigers clearly didn’t let the altercation get to their heads.

“It’s easy to get distracted, especially in today’s world,” head coach Dabo Swinney said, “but the leadership on our team deserves a lot of credit.”

Any bad blood between the teams, who belong to different divisions and had not met since 2009, stemmed from a hefty presence of Florida-bred talent on the Clemson roster.

“I knew something was going to happen; it had that vibe,” said Clemson sophomore receiver Artavis Scott, one of five Clemson starters originally from the Sunshine State. “A lot of bickering and talking, that’s all it was. It got us hyped.

“You can’t talk all day, it’s about performance. We came here focused and played our game.”

Who started it?

“We don’t talk. We don’t need to talk. Ain’t nothing to talk about,” Scott said. “They got mad at us. We knew it was going to happen. I thought it was fun, just going at it.”

The three-hour, 20-minute game before an announced attendance of 45,211 — clearly an inflated number — was a lot of fun for the team in white uniforms. Clemson rushed for 416 yards, the program’s first 400-yard day since Sept. 16, 2000, a 55-7 win against Wake Forest.

The Tigers outgained the Hurricanes 561 yards to 146 yards.

“We got beat from top to bottom,” Miami coach Al Golden said. “I told the team that it’s my responsibility for not getting the team ready.”

The Tigers opened with an impressive eight-play, 82-yard touchdown drive resulting in a nifty throwback play from Deshaun Watson to tight end Jordan Leggett for a 34-yard touchdown. Then Miami responded by moving the ball 56 yards in eight plays, nudging into the red zone.

But Clemson safety Jadar Johnson jumped a wheel route, picking off Miami sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya and firmly shifting momentum for the remainder of the afternoon.

“He did a great job disguising, because it looked like it came out of nowhere,” defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “That was as big a play as there was in the game, to take a little life out of them and keep them out of the end zone.”

It was just the second interception of the year for Kaaya, the ACC’s passing leader who left the game with concussion-like symptoms in the second quarter.

Saturday was Clemson’s first shutout of the season, first road shutout at Maryland and first-ever shutout of Miami.

Leggett, Wayne Gallman (118 yards, 22 carries), Zac Brooks, Scott, Watson and cornerback Cordrea Tankersley all crossed the goal line to craft a 42-0 halftime lead, when the Tigers gained 363 yards in the first 30 minutes. Backup quarterback Kelly Bryant rushed for his first two career touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

“We’re one of the most explosive offenses in the country,” Watson said. “We did what we do, and came out with a whole bunch of points.”

Clemson remains on the road next Saturday at N.C. State (5-2, 1-2) in a game starting at 3:30 p.m. on Halloween.

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