CLEMSON, S.C. — Trevor Lawrence threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score, and No. 1 Clemson won its 17th straight game with a 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 champion. Instead, the Tigers (2-0) methodically made plays, stretched drives and pressured A&M junior quarterback Kellen Mond into an awful showing.
The decisive victory tied Clemson’s best-ever run of success that spanned the 2014 and ’15 seasons.
“We’ll look back at this game in six or seven weeks and go, ‘Hey, that was a really big-time win early in the year,’” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said.
The Tigers will be double-digit favorites the rest of the regular season in their try for a fifth consecutive 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 because of their 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 playmakers.
Lawrence said his teammates remembered how some people thought Clemson was lucky to escape the Aggies last year.
“We wanted to leave no doubt this year,” he said. “I think we did that.”
It began with Lawrence, who scrambled out of pressure as Justyn Ross broke behind defenders for a wide-open, 30-yard TD catch that 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 first half running out, Clemson receiver Tee Higgins reached behind him to snag Lawrence’s throw at the A&M 2-yard line. Two plays later, Lawrence had a 1-yard scoring run to give Clemson a 17-3 halftime lead.
The Aggies could not respond.
“We’re a good team,” Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “We’ve just got to play better.”
Lawrence was 24-of-35 passing for 268 yards.
Mond and Texas A&M’s offense struggled against the rebuilt Clemson defense. Sophomore defensive end Xavier 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 — 121 of which were in the final quarter — 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.
Mond believes the Aggies will learn and improve
“Sometimes, losses are beneficial,” he said.
Texas A&M gets a chance to regroup at home against FCS opponent Lamar next Saturday before starting SEC play against No. 10 Auburn in two weeks.