WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Tajh Boyd hopes everybody was watching this one.
The Clemson quarterback put together a record-setting performance as the 14th-ranked Tigers did most of their good work early and that was enough to dispose of Wake Forest in a 42-13 rout Thursday night.
"It's the only (college) game on TV, and we wanted to come out and make a statement and send a message," Boyd said. "I think we did that."
Boyd threw five first-half touchdown passes, while receiver Sammy Watkins became the first player in school history to pile up more than 200 receiving yards in a game in the Atlantic Coast Conference game at BB&T Field.
Boyd racked up a school-record 428 passing yards despite exiting midway through the fourth quarter.
"The more impressive part was we came out with the energy," said Boyd, who completed 27 of 38 passes. "We expect to execute in that manner ... and score every time we get the ball. We did a lot of really good things."
Watkins finished with 202 receiving yards on eight catches, breaking a record of 197 set by teammate DeAndre Hopkins three games earlier against Boston College.
"Maybe everybody will quit asking me about Sammy Watkins now," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "He's played four and a half games now (this season) ... and it was great to see him have some big plays."
The Tigers (7-1 overall, 4-1 ACC), who've won four games in a row, bolted to a 35-0 lead. They went more than 21 minutes between points before D.J. Howard's 1-yard touchdown run capped an 86-yard fourth-quarter drive.
Fullback Tommy Bohanon caught two touchdown passes for Wake Forest (4-4, 2-4), which lost for the third time in its last four games.
That was hardly enough to qualify as a comeback.
"For (Boyd) to get that record, that's special for him," Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. "That was a great job to come up here on a Thursday night and perform the way we did in the first half."
Boyd was on the mark in the first half while Watkins, a sophomore, compiled 177 receiving yards by halftime to eclipse his career-best mark.
Watkins made a catch between two defenders and then wound his way down the Wake Forest sideline for a 61-yard touchdown grab and run as Clemson built a 14-0 lead barely more than a minute into the second quarter.
The Tigers added to the score with tight end Sam Cooper's 12-yard scoring catch in traffic. Hopkins made a 12-yard touchdown pass with 3:56 to go before halftime.
"Those were good throws, big throws," Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said of Clemson's passing attack. "I think we didn't realize how fast those guys were. Then Tajh Boyd did a good job dropping the ball on those guys."
Four plays after a Wake Forest fumble, Boyd connected with Charone Peake on a 2-yard touchdown pass.
The Demon Deacons had time to score before the break, with Tanner Price's 8-yard pass to Bohanon with 12 seconds left closing the margin to 35-7. The six-play drive was aided by two personal foul penalties on the Tigers.
Clemson struck first on Boyd's 9-yard third-down pass to tight end Brandon Ford with 4:03 left in the first quarter.
This came after Wake Forest reached the Clemson 39-yard line on its second possession, but opted to punt on fourth-and-2. The Tigers marched 80 yards, with the scoring play set up by a 57-yard completion from Boyd to Watkins.
There were two 80-yard scoring drives among the Tigers' 343 yards of total offense in the first half.
"We needed a play to be made and we didn't make one," Wake Forest linebacker Riley Haynes said. "A turnover or something."
Clemson defense posted four sacks before halftime.
Even with the lopsided score, the Demon Deacons were more effective on offense than five days earlier when they defeated Virginia. They eclipsed the 213 yards of total offense from the Virginia game with more than three minutes left in the third quarter against Clemson.
Wake Forest, which has lost four consecutive meetings with the Tigers, had a chance to make it a two-possession game by moving into Clemson territory in the opening minute of the fourth quarter before punting.
Clemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro had his string of successful field goals end at 20 when he was wide left on a 48-yard attempt in the third quarter. His school-record streak, which included 12-for-12 accuracy this year, was the fourth-longest stretch in ACC history. His previous miss came against Wake Forest last year.
NOTES: Wake Forest receiver Michael Campanaro, who had been among the nation's leaders in receptions in September, was in the starting lineup after missing the last 2 1/2 games with a broken bone in his right hand. He made a 27-yard reception in the first quarter for his first catch. He ended up with six catches for 52 yards. ... The last time these teams met for a Thursday night game came in 2008, when Wake Forest won. It marked the final game for Tommy Bowden as Clemson's coach. ... Clemson improved to 2-9 in as part of ESPN's Thursday night package.