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Clemson University

Nov 5, 2016; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Mike Williams (7) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Syracuse Orange at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports (Joshua S. Kelly)
Nov 5, 2016; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Mike Williams (7) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Syracuse Orange at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports (Joshua S. Kelly)

With Clemson up 3-0 in the first quarter, Eric Dungey was intercepted by Ryan Carter, who returned the ball to the SU 5. Three plays later, Deshaun Watson ran it in from one yard out, which opened the floodgates for Clemson. 

Tags: Clemson University, Syracuse University
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Syracuse Orange running back Jordan Fredericks (22) runs past Clemson Tigers safety T.J. Green (15) and defensive end Kevin Dodd (98) for good yardage during the first quarter. (Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse Orange running back Jordan Fredericks (22) runs past Clemson Tigers safety T.J. Green (15) and defensive end Kevin Dodd (98) for good yardage during the first quarter. (Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Syracuse coach Scott Shafer gritted his teeth one more time. That big victory he and the Orange are desperate for will have to wait another week.

DeShaun Watson made sure Clemson stayed on track for a shot at the national championship, accumulating 461 total yards and accounting for three touchdowns to help the top-ranked Tigers hold off Syracuse 37-27 on Saturday.

The Orange forced two first-quarter fumbles and intercepted Watson once, but the sophomore made sure the Tigers (10-0, 7-0 Atlantic Coast Conference; No. 1 CFP) prevailed to keep their unblemished record intact.

Tags: Scott Shafer, Clemson University
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Syracuse has lost to Clemson each of the past two seasons while getting held to a combined 20 points. (Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse has lost to Clemson each of the past two seasons while getting held to a combined 20 points. (Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports)

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) - Clemson faces perhaps its most difficult challenge now that the top-ranked Tigers have successfully navigated the toughest games out of the way, avoiding missteps on the way to the College Football Playoffs.

The top-ranked Tigers (9-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference; No. 1 CFP) made a strong statement with their 23-13 victory over Florida State in their much anticipated showdown last Saturday. The victory clinched a berth in the ACC championship game, but between now and the title contest, Clemson faces three opponents where the only statements the Tigers can make to the playoff selection committee are bad.

Clemson plays struggling Syracuse (3-6, 1-4) on Saturday, but even a video game-type blowout victory and the Tigers would have only done what's expected. Lose, and it's likely bye-bye national title hopes.

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