The University of Virginia's first staging of Saturday Night Live was a flop for a national cable TV audience. There were precious few light moments and an extremely obvious plot as the Cavaliers proved that they have an abundance of Not Ready for Prime Time players.
The most repetitious act tonight seemed to be Clemson's Donald Igwebuike kicking off into the end zone as the Tigers scored on six successive possessions in the first half en route to a 48-0 victory over winless Virginia.
Never in Clemson's 21 previous victories over the Cavaliers had the Tigers been so dominate. Virginia's worst previous loss was 47-0 in 1959.
"We're real happy," Clemson Coach Danny Ford said. "We scored a lot of points and we got our first shutout. We have certainly improved quite a bit in the last two weeks."
After opening the season with a loss to Georgia and a tie with Boston College, the defending national champions have allowed only 16 points in victories over Western Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia.
"We're looking lousy right now," Virginia Coach George Welsh said. "We're really going backward since the first week. The whole team is bad right now, we're just a terrible football team."
Welsh said he could see this type of performance coming. He said his team had a bad week of practice and that he was glad that the Cavaliers have a week off before their next game, against Wake Forest.
"We've got to go back to fundamentals," he said. "We're going to have to re-evaulate everything."
The most surprising thing at the first night game ever held at Scott Stadium was that more than half the crowd of 30,971 sat through a steady rain until the Cavaliers' fifth loss of the season and eighth straight was official.
The least surprising was that Clemson dominated throughout. The Tigers never have lost to Virginia since the Atlantic Coast Conference rivals started playing in 1955.
It hardly mattered to Clemson whether Homer Jordan or his replacement Mike Eppley directed the offense. They took turns throughout the evening as the Tigers overpowered Virginia at the line of scrimmage and scored at will while rarely resorting to a pass.
"Homer had a toothache, that's why he didn't play more," Ford said. "But tonight was a good opportunity to play a lot of people."
Three Clemson runners gained more than 100 yards. Tailback Cliff Austin scored two of the first three touchdowns and had 105 yards in 15 carries. Fullback Jeff McCall scored on a five-yard run and picked up 103 yards in 18 attempts. Reserve Chuck McSwain raced 82 yards for the touchdown that made it 31-0 and finished with 103 yards in six carries.
Virginia's only hope against a stronger Clemson line was to pass. A steady rain that became very heavy at times, hindered the passing of quarterback Wayne Schuchts and Mike Eck. Schuchts completed only four of 13 attempts for 40 yards. Eck made seven of 20 for 83 yards.
Austin scored the first touchdown on a one-yard sweep, completing a 66-yard drive on the 12th play. The Tigers increased their lead to 10-0 on a 48-yard field goal by Bob Paulling on the third play of the second quarter. It was the longest of his three-year career and his fifth in six attempts this season.
The Cavaliers drew cheers from their rain-soaked fans when they made their initial first down with 13:31 left in the first half, but on the next play Schuchts fumbled and tackle Dan Benish recovered for Clemson at the Virginia 33.
It took Jordan one play to score from there. The senior quarterback threw a slant-in pass to split end Rod McSwain, who beat Darryl Smith at the goal line. Paulling's conversion made it 17-0 with just two minutes gone in the second period.
Clemson drove 55 yards in nine plays on its next possession, with Austin getting the last three. The only pass was a screen to fullback Kevin Mack for 20 yards.
Chuck McSwain provided the most spectacular play of the evening on Clemson's next possession, taking a pitch, circling left end and high-stepping away from two diving defenders as he raced 82 yards down the sideline for the touchdown.
Igwebuike's 36-yard field goal with three seconds left in the half boosted Clemson's lead to 34-0 and left Virginia's zany pep band to provide the only other entertainment of the evening for the Cavaliers' fans. 14 0 48 Virginia 0 0 0 0 0
C--Austin 1 run (Paulling kick)