SYRACUSE, N.Y. – DeShaun Watson had a big day for No. 1 Clemson with 461 total yards and three touchdowns as the top-ranked Tigers held off Syracuse 37-27 on Saturday.
The win gave the Tigers (10-0, 7-0 ACC; No. 1 CFP) at least 10 victories for the fifth straight season and their first 10-0 start since they won their only national championship in 1981.
With 13 straight wins, the Tigers have their longest winning streak in 34 years.
Syracuse (3-7, 1-5 ACC) put up a good fight for embattled coach Scott Shafer but lost for the seventh time in a row. Syracuse is 1-10 all-time against the No. 1 team.
Watson completed 34 of 47 passes for 360 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He ran for 101 yards and a score.
Greg Huegel chipped in with three field goals for the Tigers.
Syracuse made a game of it from the start, repeatedly finding gaping holes in the Clemson defensive line. The Orange rushed for 242 yards and scored its three touchdowns on the ground against a team that had allowed only nine rushing scores.
The Orange refused to wilt when it fell behind, even with Zack Mahoney, a junior college transfer and walk-on making his second start at quarterback.
Leading 31-17 at halftime, Clemson failed to score in the third quarter for the first time this season and the Orange closed to 31-24 on Mahoney's 14-yard run.
The Orange defense held Wayne Gallman in check as he managed 66 yards on 15 carries, boosting his season total to 1,043. His 14-yard run on fourth-and-2 early in the fourth quarter, though, proved key against the fired-up Orange. It set up Huegel's 31-yard field goal with 13:33 to play for a 34-24 lead.