"We still haven't tackled No. 1,'' Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said of Austin.
WVU's 70 points also shattered the all-time record for points in any bowl game, set less than a week ago when Baylor scored 67 in the Alamo Bowl against Washington.
Smith, who finished with 4,379 passing yards this season, setting both school and Big East records, also added a rushing touchdown, giving him seven scores in the game.
"We never imagined scoring 70 points. We just wanted to come out and get a win,'' Smith said. "We definitely made a statement and let everyone know we're a contender next year.''
West Virginia's performance was even more stunning when one considers that Clemson actually controlled things early, The Tigers didn't trail until the game's fifth score, leading 7-0, 14-7 and, heading into the second quarter, 17-14.
That's when the dam broke and the Mountaineers put together a 35-3 second quarter and a 49-3 run that was almost certainly the most lopsided run in all of bowl history over just a 15-minute stretch.
"Obviously we're a better football team than we showed tonight,'' said Swinney. "But it is what it is.''
It started when WVU took the lead for good on Austin's 27-yard run after a short flip pass in the backfield from Smith (four of Smith's six TD passes were passes of no more than a foot or two in the backfield, three to Austin and one to Willie Milhouse). That made it 21-17. It looked like that would be short-lived, though, when Clemson drove right down the field and appeared set to go up 24-21 with first-and-goal at the 3.
But on that first-down play, Darwin Cook reached into a pile as Clemson tailback Andre Ellington was trying to push the pile across the goal. Cook not only stripped the ball, he picked it up and ran 99 yards the other way with it. After a lengthy video review, the fumble was confirmed and instead of trailing 24-21 West Virginia led 28-17 and was off to the races.
Clemson did manage to counter with a field goal to make it 28-20, but then the Mountaineers scored three times in the final 2:29 of the first half to make it 49-20, then on the first two possessions of the third quarter to go up 63-20.
Included in that stretch of five straight possessions with a touchdown were all sorts of plays from all kinds of sources. Smith scrambled for a 7-yard touchdown, Shawne Alston ran for a 1-yard score as time was running out in the half, Stedman Bailey converted a 6-yard scoring pass by diving for the pylon and Austin scored on two more runs after short passes, one a 3-yarder on a flip in the backfield and another on a pass into the wide-open middle of the field.
"Our guys felt like they weren't getting much credit and they wanted to make a statement in this game,'' Holgorsen said. "Clemson is a good team, but we got the momentum and it made us tough to catch.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.