CLEMSON (AP) — Deshaun Watson passed for three touchdowns and a season-best 420 yards and No. 5 Clemson rolled against Boston College’s top-ranked defense for a 34-17 victory Saturday night.
Watson added a rushing touchdown and the Tigers improved to 6-0 (3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) for the third time in five seasons. Watson finished 27-of-41, including touchdowns throws of 21 yards to Zac Brooks, 51 yards to Artavis Scott and 6 yards to Jordan Leggett.
Scott had 10 catches for 162 yards as Clemson put up 532 yards on an Eagles defense that was only allowing 140 a game coming in to lead the Football Bowl Subdivision. Boston College hadn’t allowed so many yards since losing the Independence Bowl to Arizona State after the 2013 season.
The Eagles (3-4) opened 0-4 in league play for the first time since 2012, when they finished 1-7 in the ACC. Jeff Smith, Boston College’s first true freshman to start since Chase Rettig in 2010, struggled throughout to move the offense against Clemson’s defense.
Smith finished 7-of-22 for 87 yards and a 1-yard touchdown run in the game’s final two minutes.
Watson was far from perfect — he threw two interceptions that led to the Eagles’ first 10 points — and was off target on his long throws early on. Still, the sophomore steadied himself and led the Tigers to their 34th straight win over an unranked opponent and a school-record 14th consecutive win at Death Valley.
Watson’s long scoring throw to Scott in the third quarter was a perfectly lofted pass that the speedy receiver easily ran under and brought into the end zone.
Watson ended up 15 yards shy of his career-best 435 yards passing in a win over North Carolina last season in his first Clemson start.
Boston College entered as the nation’s best defense, a spot Clemson held at the end of last season. The Tigers defenders took it as a challenge to outplay the Eagles and did just that. BC finished with 246 yards of offense.
Watson, meanwhile, struggled to connect with his receivers early on. He missed several wide-open receivers on long downfield routes and threw two interceptions in the half. Boston College came into the game with just one pick all season.
The first interception by Justin Simmons set up the Eagles on Clemson’s 20 and they quickly cashed in on Smith’s 5-yard TD pass to Bobby Wolford.
Linebacker Steven Daniels had the other right before halftime, leading to Mike Knoll’s 21-yard field goal that drew the Eagles to within 17-10 at the half.
Clemson has spent all but one week of the season so far at home. Things will toughen up the next several weeks. The Tigers play at Miami and at North Carolina State the following two Saturdays before returning home Nov. 7 for a showdown with undefeated Florida State.