SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Clemson coach Dabo Swinney seems to have it down pat: find a way to befuddle defenses then let quarterback Tajh Boyd do the rest.
Coach and star player were on the same wavelength again Saturday. With his talented receiving corps repeatedly running alone in space, Boyd threw for 455 yards and five touchdowns in three quarters as the third-ranked Tigers beat Syracuse 49-14 to spoil the Orange's Atlantic Coast Conference debut.
"I got guys here who flat just go out there and get it, some of the best skill guys in the country," said Boyd, who finished 20-of-27 with his first two interceptions of the season. "We try to put these guys in the best position possible. We played a pretty complete game and are getting close to where we want to be."
Boyd, who matched his school record in TD passes, hit an open Adam Humphries with scoring passes of 60 and 42 yards in the first quarter to help stake the Tigers to a big early lead. When Syracuse threatened to rally in the final minute of the third quarter, Boyd, standing at his own goal line, hit Sammy Watkins with a perfect spiral in stride at the 45-yard line, and he outraced the lone defender for Clemson's final touchdown.
"That play really sealed the game," said Watkins, who had four receptions for 126 yards. "Tajh did such a great job of getting the ball out so quick and so fast, it's real easy for the wideouts. Being on the road, you have to jump on a team pretty quick to hold them back."
Clemson entered as one of 20 undefeated teams remaining in Division I-A, and the Tigers made sure they wouldn't slip up against the Orange and its raucous Homecoming crowd, a near-sellout 48,961, by taking a 21-0 first-quarter lead.
BALL ST. 48, VIRGINIA 27: Keith Wenning threw for two touchdowns and Jahwan Edwards ran for three for the visiting Cardinals. Wenning also ran for a score as Ball State gained 506 yards against a Cavaliers defense that went in allowing 299 per game.
Wenning had TD passes of 11 yards to Willie Snead in the second quarter and 72 yards to Jordan Williams, a fourth-quarter back-breaker that put the Cardinals up 41-27.
"I am usually not speechless, but I am pretty darn close," Ball State coach Pete Lembo said. "We have had three BCS wins the last two years, but nothing compares to this, coming on the road to Virginia, beating an ACC opponent, a team with the caliber athletes that they have."
VA. TECH 27, UNC 17: Logan Thomas matched his career high with three touchdown passes, all before halftime, and the host Hokies made big plays on defense when they needed to.
"I was just happy to have a good first half, but I would have liked to see the same thing in the second half," Thomas said. He hit Demitri Knowles for a 45-yard TD and D.J. Coles from 9 and 5 yards, but the Hokies had just 64 yards after halftime.
WAKE 28, N.C. STATE 13: Tanner Price threw three touchdowns and ran for a score to help the Demon Deacons beat the Wolfpack at home for the sixth straight time. Michael Campanaro caught two TDs, and Price threw for 268 yards and ran for a career-high 82.
BC 48, ARMY 27: Andre Williams rushed for a career-high 263 yards and tied a school record with five rushing touchdowns to lead the host Eagles. The game was played after the Department of Defense announced that games involving service academies could be played while the partial government shutdown is in effect.