Clemson trounces Virginia Tech: 3 takeaways

Getty									Virginia Tech is a home underdog against Clemson

ESPN GameDay, the popular Saturday morning traveling show, will pay its first visit to Blacksburg in more than 10 years, and the 8 p.m. ET game will be televised nationally by ABC. "Championship teams and good players don't get distracted by those external factors".

This is where things stand for Clemson, which dismissed a third top-15 opponent in September - the first team to ever do so - and toppled another ACC challenger in utterly demoralizing fashion and, in the process, showcased that perhaps this year's version of the Tigers is better still, even more dynamic, even scarier than the Deshaun Watson-led group that played for the past two national championships.

"He's a poised guy".

"I give credit to those guys", Phillips said.

PASSING-Clemson, K.Bryant 12-21-0-186. Virginia Tech, Bradburn 1-1-0-1, Josh Jackson 29-44-2-251.

Trailing 17-3 heading into the second half, Tech forced Clemson (5-0) to go three-and-out on the opening possession of the third quarter and looked to have a shot at building some momentum.

The defending national champions pay their first visit to Blacksburg since beating the Hokies 23-3 on October 1, 2011. All Clemson needed in the second half was a couple TDs, including a Dorian O'Daniel pick-six, to comfortably win again and move to 5-0 with three top-25 wins already.

"I think he was pretty good in space, making guys miss", said Andrew Motuapuaka. "We have a new team", Hokies receiver Cam Phillips said. Jackson threw two picks - one that was tipped by his receiver, the other the aforementioned Austin Bryant highlight.

The Hokies fell to 1-31 all-time against AP Top Five teams. Clemson's allowing only 227 yards and 9.3 points per game, the third-fewest in the country, having already smothered offenses like Auburn (117 yards, 11 sacks) and Louisville (until two fourth-quarter touchdowns, the Tigers had a 33-7 lead on the Cardinals and reigning Heisman Trophy victor Lamar Jackson). Tech put the ball in the end zone four times during that run. He then ran untouched for the touchdown with 11:08 left in the game. "There's no ifs, ands or buts about it".

"I think the ultimate disrespect sometimes is when someone quietly thinks they've got your number", Saban said. The Tigers took a commanding 17-3 lead into the break.

Virginia Tech, meanwhile, has pitched two shutouts (Delaware and Old Dominion), giving up 10.3 points per game and a respectable 311.3 yards per contest that includes the 592 yards West Virginia racked up in the opener.

When the game was over, Clemson players strolled off the field casually but confidently. On third-and-1, Jackson keeps it himself and comes up just short of the first down marker as Virginia Tech punts it away again. Virginia Tech had a chance to score right before halftime, but Joey Slye missed a 45-yard attempt. The sophomore snuck uncovered into the secondary and ran untouched for the score. The Hokies' offense mustered just 342 total yards and were just 4-15 on third down. The run was the first and only play of the drive after a big 43-yard punt return by Greg Stroman.

There was a play midway through the third quarter - a key moment for Virginia Tech, to be sure, but in retrospect irrelevant to a 31-17 Clemson win that was never particularly in doubt.

"The story of the game was the turnovers and how we attacked the line of scrimmage", Swinney said. He accounted for the final score with a 30-yard pass to Savoy with 1:32 remaining. His first career catch came on the previous play and gained three yards.

On Saturday night in Blacksburg, Virginia, Clemson transitioned from being the defending champions to championship contenders.

Virginia Tech (4-1, 0-1 ACC) entered the week the highest ranked team among Coastal Division schools.

The Hokies (4-0), unbeaten through itheir nonconference schedule for the first time since 2011, are eager to see how they measure up this year. Tech scored 57 straight points at East Carolina on September 16 and toppled Old Dominion 38-0 last week.

The Virginia Tech students, alumni and fans, all 65,632 who streamed into Lane Stadium Saturday night, were primed for an upset.