CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — D.J. Uiagalelei ran for two touchdowns and threw for a third as No. 6 Clemson defeated South Carolina State 49-3 on Saturday, cranking up its offense after a sorry showing in a loss to second-ranked Georgia a week earlier.
Uiagalelei and the Tigers (1-1) had touchdowns on all four of their first-quarter possessions and pulled away for their 36th straight win over teams from the Football Championship Subdivision.
Uiagalelei began the rout with a 4-yard scoring burst. Will Shipley and Kobe Pace added scoring runs before Uiagalelei closed the surge with an 11-yard pass to receiver Justyn Ross. It was Ross’ first touchdown catch since 2019, after he missed last season due to spinal surgery.
Clemson coordinator Tony Elliott said Uiagalelei still has work to do to improve his rhythm with his pass catchers. “As the quarterback continues to do that, the game will slow down,” Elliott said.
South Carolina State (0-2) of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference had little chance of slowing the Tigers.
Clemson outgained the Bulldogs 504-235 and continued a dominant history for the Tigers over their instate rival: Clemson is 5-0 by a combined score of 287-23.
The result was a welcome showing after last week’s struggles against the more powerful Georgia Bulldogs.
Uiagalelei was sacked seven times and often overthrew receivers when he wasn’t getting hit. Clemson’s tailbacks finished with 2 yards rushing in the 10-3 defeat, leading to a week of coaches’ challenges and grinding on the details they messed up in the opener.
The Tigers’ offense certainly looked like it made positive strides, no matter how much of mismatch this game was.
Uiagalelei went 14 of 24 for 171 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for scores of 4 and 5 yards.
Shipley, a freshman, had a team high 80 yards and touchdown runs of 7 and 13 yards. Pace had 68 yards rushing, including a 1-yard scoring rush.
South Carolina State was shutout in two of the previous four games at Clemson. But the Bulldogs ended the Tigers chance at hold them scoreless for a third time when they recovered a Michael Dukes fumble and drove for a 27-yard field goal from Dyson Roberts right before halftime.
Bulldogs coach Buddy Pough said his team got manhandled early.
“That first quarter was ugly,” he said. “I thought later on, we were able to make some plays and look like we belong.”
Otherwise, Clemson’s defense had another stout showing. While the Tigers didn’t score any touchdowns against Georgia, the Bulldogs’ only TD was off a Uiagalelei interception.
Clemson held South Carolina State to 123 yards and four first downs the first two quarters.
South Carolina State: The Bulldogs had a rough trip to Clemson. One of the buses broke down on the highway on the trip over and needing a police escort to arrive at the stadium. At least South Carolina State will leave with $500,000, its guarantee from Clemson for playing this game.
Clemson: The Tigers can spend this week improving from victory instead of grinding after defeat. All their questions on offense won’t be fully answered because Clemson, the six-time defending ACC champions and favorites to make it seven in a row, will be solid favorites in the rest of their games.