The Clemson Tigers overcame a slow start on Saturday and rolled to a 38-17 win over Virginia Tech. The Hokies started fast against Clemson, moving the ball with ease against the Tigers' defense in the first quarter. But after a score on their opening possession, Logan Thomas and the Hokie offense struggled and Tajh Boyd and his weapons on the outside took control.
Clemson outscored Virginia Tech 28-3 in the second and third quarter, jumping all over a Frank Beamer team that's struggled through the first two months of the season. Two second quarter interceptions of Thomas led to a quick 14 points from the Tigers, providing a lead they did not relinquish. The second interception came on a forced pass on a slant, as Thomas sailed the ball high and hit Tigers cornerback Jonathan Meeks in the numbers. Meeks burst down the left sideline, outrunning Thomas and the Hokies offensive line for a 74-yard pick six.
The two turnovers and second quarter touchdowns changed the game in a matter of six minutes, but a four minute span in the third sealed it for the Tigers. Clemson benefitted from a questionable call on an apparent Sammy Watkins fumble. Watkins was ruled down before he had the ball knocked loose, but replay showed his backside had not hit the turf yet. Still, the ACC officiating crew did not overturn the call on replay and Clemson retained possession.
The Tigers promptly took advantage, with Boyd hitting Watkins with a pretty floater to his outside shoulder on the right sideline. It was a critical 27-yard pick up on third-and-six, and two plays later, Andre Ellington burst up the middle for a 12-yard touchdown. After a quick VT three-and-out, Boyd once again lofted a perfect floater to the right side, but this time it was the explosive DeAndre Hopkins hauling it in. Hopkins stumbled into the end zone for 37-yard score and just like that, it was 31-10.
Virginia Tech tried to make some noise in the fourth quarter, cutting into the three-touchdown deficit on a 19-yard run by Thomas. But a double-pass trick play gone terribly wrong ended any chances of a Hokies comeback. Wide receiver Marcus Davis haphazardly lofted a pass back across the middle of the field and Xavier Brewer casually ran under it for a Clemson interception. Boyd came on the field and dove over the pile from one yard out for one final score, icing the win at 38-17.
Box Score Hero: Boyd led the Clemson offense both through the air and on the ground, hitting Watkins and Hopkins with two perfect passes that sealed the win in the third quarter. He scored two touchdowns on the ground, and added one through the air with the connection to Hopkins. He was 12 of 21 for 160 yards passing and added 27 yards on the ground.
Rankings Ramifications: Clemson should have an opportunity to move up in both polls, with Ohio State on the ropes and two more games featuring head-to-head matchups between four ranked teams ahead of them.
But Did They Cover? The Tigers covered the seven point spread.
For More On This Game: For more Tigers football, visit Clemson blog Shakin' The Southland. For more on Hokies football, visit Virginia Tech blog Gobbler Country.
Next Week's Schedule: Clemson now turns around on a short week, heading to Wake Forest for a Thursday night Atlantic Division matchup. After losing four of their last six games, the Hokies will be idle next week.