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Clemson stakes its claim

RALEIGH, N.C. — Dabo Swinney isn't spending much time thinking of where third-ranked Clemson will be in this week's first College Football Playoff standings.

The coach is pushing Deshaun Watson and that humming-along offense to focus on the first step to get there: winning the division race.

Watson accounted for six touchdowns and the Tigers put up a second straight big score on the road in Saturday's 56-41 win at North Carolina State.

The first playoff standings will be released Tuesday night, then the Tigers host Florida State next weekend to try to clinch the Atlantic Division crown and a trip to the ACC title game.

"We're 8-0," Swinney said. "That's really all that matters for us, that we've got a chance to clinch our division with a win over the team that's been the best team in this conference the last few years."

One thing is sure: the Tigers' offense is rolling.

A week after piling up 567 yards in a 58-0 win at Miami, Clemson finished with 623 yards against a defense ranked third nationally and allowing 251 per outing.

Watson threw for 383 yards and five scores and ran for 54 yards and a touchdown. Wayne Gallman ran for 172 yards and a touchdown for Clemson, which put together a lightning-strike scoring drive right before halftime to go ahead for good.

"We're just executing," Watson said. "We listen to our coaches and what they have planned. We just go out there and play ball and have fun."

The Tigers were never seriously threatened in the final 20 minutes, leading by 20 on their way to an 11th straight victory dating to last season.

UVA 27, GA. TECH 21: The end couldn't come fast enough for Canaan Severin.

"My nerves are shot," the Cavaliers' senior wide receiver said. "My nerves can't take it any more."

Severin caught a go-ahead 30-yard touchdown from Matt Johns, and host Virginia's defense held off a late surge. The victory wasn't secured until Justin Thomas' fourth-and-4 pass was knocked away with just more than a minute left.

VA. TECH 26, BC 10: Michael Brewer threw a first-quarter touchdown and linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka returned a fumble 34 yards for a score early in the second, carrying the visiting Hokies. Joey Slye kicked four field goals for Virginia Tech, which led 20-0 at halftime.

Clemson stakes its claim 10/31/15 [Last modified: Saturday, October 31, 2015 11:18pm]
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