CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Deshaun Watson tied his career high with six touchdown passes, three to Mike Williams, and No. 4 Clemson took another, strong step to the College Football Playoff with a 56-7 victory over rival South Carolina on Saturday night.
If the Tigers (11-1, No. 4 CFP) don't stumble against Virginia Tech next week in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship, they'll be off to college football's final four for a second straight season.
The Gamecocks (6-6) were little more than speed bump on that road that Clemson got past quickly, jumping out to a 21-0 lead in the opening quarter and cruising to a third straight win in the Palmetto State's biggest sporting event.
Watson finished with 347 yards and matched the six TDs he threw in his first college start against North Carolina in 2014. He also likely crept a bit closer in the Heisman Trophy race to Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, whose team lost for a second straight week.
Watson and the Tigers also wiped out memories of their last Death Valley game, a stunning, 43-42 loss to underdog Pitt — Clemson's first home loss in more than three years.
Watson and Williams got things going with a 34-yard TD catch. Then Williams' dragged South Carolina's Jamarcus King on his for several yards during a 19-yard scoring catch. By the time Jordan Leggett scored on a wide open 11-yard grab, Clemson was in front to stay and Gamecocks defenders were yelling at each other.
Wayne Gallman rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown. Williams caught six passes for 100 yards.
Clemson's defense held the Gamecocks to 62 yards in the first half and posted its biggest margin of victory in the series since a 51-0 win in 1900.