|Sammy Watkins caught his first touchdown pass of the season and set a school record with 202 receiving yards. (US Presswire)|
CLEMSON WON. The Tigers reversed some poor luck on Thursday night games, jumping out to a 35-0 first-half lead and holding off Wake Forest's second half push for a 42-13 victory. Clemson entered the game 1-9 in their past 10 Thursday night contests, including a loss to the Demon Deacons in 2008. The victory also featured the reversal of fortune for star wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins entered the game scoreless in 2012, but ended the drought by making it rain with a 61-yard touchdown reception on the first play of the second quarter. Watkins finished the game with eight catches for 202 yards, a single-game school record.
HOW CLEMSON WON: After a slow first quarter where neither team could get much of a rhythm going on offense, Clemson hit its stride in the second quarter. The Demon Deacons' secondary found itself out of position at the wrong times, and Tajh Boyd exploited it with the elite speed of Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins. Boyd finished with 428 yards on 27-of-38 passing, with five touchdowns with -- most important -- zero interceptions. Like Watkins, Boyd also set a single-game record with his passing yards.
The offense stole the headlines, but the defense was impressive as well -- particularly in the first half. Clemson's front seven did a great job locking down Wake Forest's rushing attack, and then getting pressure on Tanner Price in third-and-long situations. Once the Tigers built a five-score lead in the second quarter, things got a little more conservative. And the young defensive line showed some improvement in their ability to sack the quarterback and force quick passes.
WHEN CLEMSON WON: In an 11-play sequence that lasted approximately three minutes of game time. Tajh Boyd completed a 50-yard pass to Sammy Watkins, followed by a 12-yard touchdown pass to Nuk Hopkins. Then freshman Cortez Davis forced a fumble three plays later. Clemson followed that with Tajh Boyd's fifth touchdown pass of the first half four plays after that. Wake quickly scored again before halftime, but the game was sealed for the Tigers.
WHAT CLEMSON WON: People joke about "Clemsoning," but this is the kind of game where Tigers teams of the past may have dropped the ball and lost a game they should have won. But aside from Thursday night road woes, this was a game the offense needed after struggling in the win over Virginia Tech last week. Clemson was bailed out by their defense, forcing four turnovers and setting up Boyd with a short field. On Thursday, they nearly doubled their 295 yards of offense, finishing with 534 on the evening.
WHAT WAKE FOREST LOST: It is the third loss in four games for the Demon Deacons, and fourth in their past six. In order to make back-to-back bowl games, Wake Forest must get two wins from a remaining schedule that includes Boston College, NC State, Notre Dame, and Vanderbilt. It is not an impossible task, but certainly a situation you do not want to be in when one of those teams is competing for a division title (NC State), and another is in the Top 5 of the BCS (Notre Dame).
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