Rod McDowell carved up Maryland's defense for 160-something yards.
Not bad for the Tigers' No. 2 running threat.
When push came to shove - when Clemson really needed the running game that Chad Morris insists is the core element in his offense - the Tigers turned to a battered and frustrated Tajh Boyd to carry the load.
Tiger o-line opens holes for run game
Nursing an injured left knee that limited Morris' play-calling for the first two-thirds of the game, Boyd provided the running punch that turned anybody's game into a near Tiger runaway and a 40-27 victory in Clemson's final trip to Big Ten-bound Maryland.
Boyd probably won't look back on this year's victory over the Terps - his second straight at College Park - as one of the highlights of his career.
But when it mattered most, he came through, leading the Tigers to a successful bounce-back from their dismal showing last week against FSU and, now, to a 7-1 record and a 5-1 ACC mark that keeps them solidly in position should the conference receive an at-large BCS bowl bid.
The Tigers' defense also came up big, twice turning the Terps away after second-half Clemson turnovers and paving the way for the victory.
"Our defense responded and our team responded," said Dabo Swinney. "It's not easy to win, and it's not easy to go on the road and win. Everybody wants to win, and I thought Maryland really competed incredibly hard out there.
"There's no question that the costly mistakes we made and them getting minimum points out of that was the difference in the game. That could have really hurt us. But our defense went out and responded. We got a turnover and then held them to a field goal."
With the Tigers clinging to a precarious 19-13 lead early in the fourth quarter, Clemson got a turning-point break on Bashaud Breeland's fumble-causing hit and Spencer Shuey's recovery that gave the Tigers the ball at the Maryland 22.
Two plays later, Clemson was in the red zone after a 13-yard keeper by Boyd on a read-option - his first called run since midway through the first half, when he limped off the field favoring his left knee.
After a five-yard run by McDowell, Boyd kept the ball for a four-yard touchdown run, and the Tigers seemed suddenly in control at 26-13.
It wasn't over yet, however.
Clemson's defense forced a three-and-out, but then the Terps found themselves with a chance when a disconnect between Boyd and D.J. Howard on an open wheel route resulted into an interception by Maryland's Isaac Goins.
At that point, Clemson's defense came up with perhaps its most critical stop of the game. On first down, Spencer Shuey and Stephone Anthony dropped Maryland's Lavern Jacobs for an 11-yard loss on a reverse, and Tigers took over on downs at their own 41 after forcing three straight incompletions.
The Tigers quickly cashed in on their opportunity, as a 40-yard pass from Boyd to Martavis Bryant set up a three-yard touchdown run by McDowell, putting Clemson comfortably on top, 33-13, with 7:57 left to play.
The teams swapped scores in the closing minutes, with Maryland scoring twice and Clemson getting a 45-yard touchdown run by McDowell.
Boyd finished 28-of-41 passing for 304 yards, while Watkins hauled in half those completions - for a new school record - and 163 yards. McDowell rushed for a career-high 161 yards.
Clemson ran 98 plays compared to 70 for Maryland (5-3, 1-3) and finished with a 551-364 advantage in total yardage. But the Tigers needed four field goals from Chandler Catanzaro to take a 19-13 lead into the fourth quarter.
"Our offense responded," Swinney said. "We moved the ball up and down the field all game. We came away with four field goals, and I felt we could have really put the game away a whole lot earlier if we'd have converted some of those field goals into touchdowns.
"Cat-man did his job. But when you're kicking field goals and moving the ball like we were, it kind of plays into their favor. They can hang around, and they were trying to play slow-down all night long."
The first half was a tussle, and at times a struggle, for the Tigers.
Clemson moved the ball well, and consistently, in the middle of the field, but then the offense broke down inside the red zone.
On the Tigers' first 13 snaps on series that started inside the 20, they lost a total of 19 yards.
As a result, for the first 29 minutes and 51 seconds, the offensive bottom line consisted of three chip-shot field goals by Chandler Catanzaro, and a 9-7 Clemson lead.
Even that wasn't easy to come by.
After starting the game with a defensive three-and-out, the Tigers took the ball and moved quickly down the field, and had a first-and-10 at the Maryland 15 after a 17-yard, third-and-six connection between Boyd and Martavis Bryant.
From there, the Tigers went nowhere, and Catanzaro salvaged points with a 31-yard field goal.
Clemson's lead was momentary. Three plays later, Maryland backup quarterback - and Greer, S.C. native - Caleb Rowe found second-team wideout Lavern Jacobs open in the middle of the field for what looked to be a first-down gain. But Clemson safety Travis Blanks, who was positioned perfectly to make the tackle when the ball was caught, inexplicably took an errant angle, ran himself out of position, and Jacobs - perhaps the most surprised player on the field - turned on his jets and outran Clemson's pursuit to the end zone for a 71-yard touchdown.
That was the last of the first-half scoring for Maryland - although, following a 29-yard field goal by Catanzaro that had cut the lead to 7-6 - it took an end-zone interception by freshman Jayron Kearse to keep the Terps from extending their lead.
Clemson edged ahead 9-7 on another Catanzaro field goal after a red-zone flop.
Then, after another red-zone chance by the Tigers came to nothing, and exchange of punts gave Clemson a final opportunity, at their own 42, with 1:54 remaining in the half.
Finally, the Tigers cashed in. They converted a third-and-seven with a 30-yard pass-and-run from Boyd to Watkins, and then, after a holding penalty against the Terps gave them a first-and-goal at the eight, Boyd tossed a four-yard touchdown pass to freshman tight end Jordan Leggett, who lined up in the backfield as a blocker on a run formation, eased outside behind a perfectly-executed dummy run inside by Adam Humphries, and hauled in a well-throw ball over a size-outmatched Maryland defender. Catanzaro's PAT made the score 16-7 at halftime.
The Tigers will be back on the road this week to face Virginia, and then will have a weekend off and extra time to prepare for their Thursday night ACC home finale against Georgia Tech.