CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Tajh Boyd threw three touchdown passes and ran for another as No. 21 Clemson routed No. 5 Virginia Tech 38-10 Saturday night to win its first Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 20 years.
The Tigers (10-3) clinched their first Orange Bowl berth since 1981, the year they won their only national championship.
Clemson won’t be playing for a national title this season, but the victory was still sweet considering they’d lost three of four games to close the regular season.
“We knocked down a lot of walls tonight,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.
Clemson became the only team to beat Virginia Tech (11-2) twice in the same season. The Tigers beat the Hokies 23-3 in Blacksburg, Va., on Oct. 1.
Clemson scored three touchdowns on five plays in a span of 4:24 in the third quarter to break open a 10-10 halftime tie.
After Virginia Tech went three-and-out on its first second-half possession, Boyd capped a 10-play, 87-yard touchdown drive with his second touchdown pass of the game to tight end Dwayne Allen for a 17-10 lead.
On Clemson’s next play from scrimmage, wide receiver Sammy Watkins got behind the defense and hauled in a 53-yard touchdown pass from Boyd – his 31st of the season, extending his school record. Boyd completed 20 of 29 passes for 240 yards.
Andre Ellington, who ran for 125 yards, raced 29 yards for a touchdown to give the Tigers a 31-10 lead. Boyd put the game away early in the fourth quarter on a quarterback sneak.