CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – Trevor Lawrence threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another as No. 1 Clemson proved once more who’s boss in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 42-17 beatdown of seventh-ranked Miami on Saturday night.
Travis Etienne rushed for 149 yards and two scores, including a 72-yard burst down the left sidelines as the Tigers opened 4-0 for a sixth straight season.
This is was billed as an ACC showdown where the Hurricanes (3-1, 2-1 ACC) could prove the swagger had truly returned to “The U.”
Instead, Miami’s offense was suffocated by the Tigers (3-0 ACC) and held without an offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter.
Hurricanes quarterback D’Eriq King came in alongside Lawrence as the ACC’s dominant, dynamic playmakers. The Houston transfer, though, was swarmed by Clemson all game and completed just 12 of 28 passes for 121 yards and his first two interceptions of the season.
Miami entered as the ACC leader in offense at 499 yards a game. It was held to 210 and never truly came close to challenging the Tigers.
Clemson got out fast with touchdowns on its first two drives, on tight end Braden Galloway’s 24-yard catch and a 2-yard run by Etienne.
Etienne, the two-time ACC player of the year who returned for his senior season, became college football’s all-time leader with a score in his 39th career game. He broke a three-way tie he was in with Florida’s Tim Tebow and Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Dixon.
Another Galloway TD catch, this one from 11 yards, put Clemson ahead 21-3 with 1:14 remaining in the half.
But perhaps Clemson coach Dabo Swinney’s desire to smother the ‘Canes led to a horrendous mistake as the half ended.
Swinney sent kicker B.T. Potter out for a 61-yard field field with 3 seconds remaining. But Potter’s kick was blocked and bounced into the arms of DJ Ivey, who took it 48 yards for a touchdown.
Miami rushed off the field in celebration while the reduced crowd at Death Valley – less than quarter of its 81,500 capacity – sat stunned.
Swinney, the two-time national championship coach, called it “as bad a decision (as) I’ve made.”
Any Miami “mo” quickly disappeared in the third quarter with three straight three-and-outs, including tailback Jaylan Knighton getting stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-short on the Hurricanes’ 34.
Etienne ended most of the drama with his 72-yard burst down the left sideline to put Clemson up 28-10.
About the only other troubling moment for Clemson came when Lawrence was on the ground grabbing his leg after getting hit in the third quarter. The nervous crowd sat silent as the training staff surrounded the likely No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL draft.
Lawrence, though, popped up and ran off to the sidelines on his own. Moments later, Lawrence rushed for a 4-yard TD, spiking the ball was staring down a Miami defender – and got called for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Lawrence ended with 292 yards, completing 29 of 41 and went without an interception for a 12th straight game.
Miami: The Hurricanes have some work to do when it comes to facing the nation’s best. They seemed to lose their poise at times with 15 penalties, including two for targeting on safety Amari Carter and linebacker Keontra Smith.
Clemson: The Tigers have been in four of the last five matchups of Top-10 ACC teams – and won them all. There are still some huge moments left for Clemson (at Notre Dame on Nov. 7, maybe?) as it tries for a sixth ACC title and College Football Playoff appearance.
Miami starts a two-game homestand against Pitt next Saturday.
Clemson hits the road for the first time in more than a month at Georgia Tech on Saturday.