CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Trevor Lawrence threw for one touchdown and ran for another and No. 1 Clemson won its record-tying 17th straight game with a dominating 24-10 victory over No. 12 Texas A&M on Saturday.
The Aggies (1-1) talked of an upset all week and figured to be the sternest test left for the defending national champions. Instead, the Tigers (2-0) methodically made plays, stretched out drives and pressured A&M junior quarterback Kellen Mond into an awful showing.
The decisive win tied Clemson’s best-ever run of success that spanned the 2014 and 2015 seasons. It also left a major question in college football: Who can stop these guys?
The Tigers will be double-digit favorites the rest of the regular season in their try for a fifth straight Atlantic Coast Conference title and College Football Playoff berth.
Texas A&M came in filled with confidence. The Aggies vowed they wouldn’t let their near-miss, 28-26 loss to Clemson happen this time. They shrugged off the Death Valley crowd with all their own experience in loud Southeastern Conference venues. Offensive lineman Jared Hocker even predicted the upset.
Instead, it was A&M shaking its head about what went wrong as Clemson relentlessly wore down the Aggies with its collection of fast, talented playmakers.
It began with Lawrence, who scrambled out of pressure as Justyn Ross broke behind defenders for a way-too-easy, 30-yard TD catch to put Clemson up for good.
Then safety Nolan Turner jarred Mond on what would have been a first-down run to cause a fumble that linebacker James Skalski pounced on to blunt an Aggies’ drive.
With the half running out, Clemson receiver Tee Higgins reached behind him to snag Lawrence’s throw at the A&M 2. Two plays later, Lawrence had a 1-yard scoring run to send Clemson up 17-3 at the break.
The Aggies could not respond.
Lawrence went 24 of 35 passing for 268 yards.
Texas A&M’s offense and Mond struggled against the rebuilt Tiger D. Gone were the swarming front four led by All-Americans — and first round NFL draft picks — Clelin Ferrell and Christian Wilkins. But the new group, led by sophomore defensive end Xavier Thomas, was just as potent. Thomas had a sack and the Tigers held Texas A&M to 92 yards in the opening half.
Mond, who threw for 430 yards against Clemson a season ago, finished with 236 yards passing — only 115 of those the first three quarters — with an interception and a fumble. His lone TD pass came with 6 seconds remaining in the game, a 2-yard lob to Jalen Wydermeyer.
Texas A&M: The Aggies need to regroup on both sides of the ball after getting hammered by Clemson and seem to get the chance to do it. Texas A&M returns home to face FCS opponent Lamar before starting Southeastern Conference play at home against No. 10 Auburn in two weeks.
Clemson: Welcome to the Heisman Trophy chase, Trevor Lawrence. Clemson’s sophomore passer has a so-so outing in the opener against Georgia Tech last week, but look sharp and in control against the Aggies, much more the player he was when the Tigers topped Alabama to win the title last January.
Count on Clemson holding firm to its No. 1 ranking and Texas A&M taking a huge fall down the rankings when the new poll comes out.
Texas A&M: Hosts FCS opponent Lamar next Saturday night.
Clemson: Returns to ACC play at Syracuse on Saturday night.