Clemson's Tigers pitched a perfect purple party for 81,544 of their closest friends.
Everyone had a ball except for The Citadel, which endured a 52-6 thrashing in exchange for a paycheck.
"The game was exactly like you would want to script it," said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. "We had an almost flawless first half, and I was happy to see our seniors on the field. We played to our standard, not to anything else."
Tajh Boyd gave Tigers' pause late
Now the 10-1, sixth-ranked Tigers can look ahead to the single game that in large part will define a historically special, but not yet satisfactory, season.
These Tigers can do nothing about what's happened between them and their feathered rivals for the past four years. Next week's game in Columbia presents an opportunity in the here and now, with a BCS bowl bid perhaps riding on the outcome for both teams.
For Clemson's fans, many of whom poured onto the field at the end of Saturday's game to hang out one last time with some of their favorite Tigers, it's even bigger than that.
"For our seniors, they know how important this game is," Swinney said. "A win (over USC) is definitely on the short list of things they haven’t done.”
“We just want to play a good game and have good practices this week, and just worry about what we can control," said junior receiver Sammy Watkins. "Every year they play well, and the past two years they out-played us - they wanted it the most.
"If we hold the ball and take care of it, we'll be alright. We can’t have any fumbles or interceptions.”
That Clemson would take care of its business against The Citadel came as no shock.
The ease of the domination may have surprised even the Tigers themselves, who ran up and down the field at will en route to a 42-0 halftime lead.
In his final appearance in Death Valley, Tajh Boyd tossed touchdown passes to five different receivers, while competing 21 of 28 passes for 288 yards.
After Boyd ran onto the field for the third series of the second half, the Tigers called a timeout and brought on Cole Stoudt at quarterback. Boyd was greeted by his teammates on the sideline, then jogged briefly to midfield, waved to the crowd, and took a bow, to thunderous applause.
“It was spur of the moment," said Boyd of his bow. "It was one of those deals when I was coming off and thought, ‘Might as well.’ I’m very appreciative of the fans. They've been very supportive throughout my time here. They've been a joy to be around, and it feels good to be appreciative as well.”
Boyd will go into the South Carolina game with 102 career touchdown passes, as one of just 18 quarterbacks in college football history to hit the 100-mark. With his first TD strike on Saturday, a 24-yard pass to Stanton Seckinger less than five minutes into the game, he doubled Charlie Whitehurst's previous school record of 49.
He added touchdown connections with Mike Williams, Watkins, Martavis Bryant and Rod McDowell, directing five scoring drives of less than three minutes in duration.
Boyd's five-touchdown performance was the sixth of his career.
Senior linebacker Quandon Christian also got in on the first-half touchdown parade when he scooped up a fumble after Garry Peters popped the ball loose from Citadel quarterback Ben Dupree and returned it 22 yards for a score. The touchdown was the first of Christian's career.
By halftime, the Tigers had rolled up 361 yards on 45 plays, including 94 rushing yards by senior Rod McDowell, while holding the Bulldogs to 63 yards and barely over two yards a play.
McDowell left the game early in the second half, after going over 100 yards for the game.
Clemson, after giving up a field goal for Citadel's first points, continued its celebration with a final Death Valley field goal by Chandler Catanzaro, followed by the first career touchdown by U.S. Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient Daniel Rodriguez, who scored from two yards out on forward-pass handoff from Stoudt.
Leading 52-3, The Tigers called their final timeout early in the fourth quarter, allowing defensive senior starters Spencer Shuey, Christian and Darius Robinson to be acknowledged by the crowd.
“It was emotional to have a curtain call for the seniors," said Swinney of the seven players remaining from his first recruiting class. "I told the seniors to leave Clemson better than when they got here. Tajh has made us an elite program again. He embraced his role and enjoyed every second as the quarterback at Clemson University."
The Citadel tacked on a short field goal in the closing minutes, following a 21-play drive on which Clemson freshman linebacker Ben Boulware made nine tackles.
The Bulldogs finished with just 172 total yards, and completed just one pass for a four-yard loss.
"Clemson's defensive scheme is the best we have gone against in our four years running the triple option here," said Citadel coach Kevin Higgins. "The talent they have is something we've not seen in a long time. Brent Venables did a great job with that scheme against Georgia Tech, and he did a great job against us."
For Clemson, the day's only bad news has implications for the final two games of the season, as the knee injury sophomore safety Travis Blanks suffered early in the game was preliminarily diagnosed as a torn ACL.