Before Saturday, the Clemson Tigers had never played a game in the Carrier Dome. Now, Syracuse fans are probably wishing they never come back.
The No. 3 Clemson Tigers (5-0, 3-0 ACC) defeated the Syracuse Orange (2-3, 0-1 ACC), 49-14, in dominating fashion. Clemson's Tajh Boyd threw for 455 yards and had 5 touchdowns. Terrel Hunt did not.
Hunt went 8-24 with 52 yards and three interceptions before being taken out of the game. The only SU receiver with at least ten yards was Ashton Broyld (64). After the game, Hunt took responsibility for the loss.
"We just fell short basically," he said. "It wasn’t anything that really clicked or didn’t click. We just fell short and like I said, I take that upon myself."
The 48,961 fans in the Carrier Dome were louder at the start of the game than at any other point this season. They were hungry for an upset. Three plays into the game, they saw #10 throw another long, wide-open touchdown pass. Unfortunately it was Clemson’s #10 – Tajh Boyd.
Clemson took an early lead and never looked back By the end of the quarter, the Tigers led 21-0. Boyd had 220 passing yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter . Jerome Smith had two carries. And Clemson had 12 first downs to Syracuse's two.
Boyd's final stat line was 20-27 for 455 yards, five TDs and two interceptions. His previous record for passing yards was 428, which came last year against Wake Forest. It also set a Clemson team record.
Including Clemson's backup QBs, the Tigers had 466 passing yards. That's the fourth most Syracuse has ever allowed and the most since 2007.
On the first play of the second quarter, Smith scored a 66 yard rushing touchdown. Smith had 18 carries for 125 yards and a TD.
Moments later, Boyd stood under center on 3rd and 1, waiting for the snap. The crowd got loud again as the play clock neared zero, forcing some confusion by the Clemson offensive players. Boyd ran a keeper up the middle for no gain.
"I was so proud to run through that tunnel and see our fans, our community, our students out there representing us – wanting us to be what we want to be," Shafer said. "To be honest with you, I think the fans did a better job than we did today."
The Orange had the chance to make it a one possession game again. But Hunt tossed his first interception of the year when he under threw Jarrod West. On the next two drives, Boyd threw touchdowns to Stanton Seckinger and Martavis Bryant. The Tigers went up 35-7.
There was an interesting moment with about a minute left in the half and the same score. Syracuse stopped Clemson on 3rd and goal, but Dabo Swinney elected to keep his offense on the field. Jay Bromley sacked Boyd on 4th down and Shafer had some, well, choice words for Swinney.
"(I) said a few things out there today that I feel bad about. I really do," Shafer said. "I’m an adult now and I need to constrain myself a little bit better," he added.
Although the Orange was down 35-7 at halftime, the team didn't quit. Clemson only scored 14 points in the second half.
"At the half, if we’re winning or if we’re losing, we always have the mindset that it’s 0-0 and in the second half, we’re coming out to play," corner Julian Whigham said. "I think in the second half, we did a good job of that."
On SU's next drive, Prince-Tyson Gulley ran 28 yards to the end zone. Ritchy Desir picked off Boyd a few minutes later.
But Syracuse - again - couldn't take advantage and get back in the game. Ryan Norton missed a 42 yard field goal. Following a Devante McFarlane 38 yard run on a fake punt, the Orange turned the ball over on downs on the Clemson 13. And then Sammy Watkins caught an unbelievable 91 yard touchdown pass. Clemson went up 42-14.
The Orange fans headed for the exits.
"That’s a great football team we just lost to," Broyld said. "Hats off to them. We just got to come back next week and be ready to play."
Syracuse faces NC State next Saturday in Raleigh, N.C. at 3:30 p.m.