Clemson freshman Deshaun Watson did something no Tigers quarterback had done in six years by beating South Carolina on Saturday, and he did it all while playing with a torn ACL, coach Dabo Swinney said.
Watson, who sprained the knee against Georgia Tech two weeks ago, tore the ACL in practice last week, Swinney said. Clemson was told that with a brace securing the knee, Watson could continue to play without risking additional damage.
That meant the freshman, who was the nation's top-ranked dual-purpose quarterback recruit in 2014, got the start against rival South Carolina.
He was 14-of-19 for 269 yards and two touchdowns and rushed five times for 13 yards, scoring twice more in Clemson's 35-17 win, its first over the Gamecocks since 2008.
Watson left the game twice, including an early trip to the locker room at the end of the first half, but returned each time. In his absence, Cole Stoudt, who had started seven games this season, threw an interception that set up one of South Carolina's three scoring drives.
Watson will be available for Clemson's bowl game, the school confirmed. He will have surgery to repair the injury after the Tigers' season ends.