WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The best way for Clemson to respond to an unexpected setback was to waste no time getting back in a groove.
That's exactly what happened for the No. 4 Tigers in Saturday night's 35-13 victory over Wake Forest at windswept BB&T Field.
"You really can't dwell on it," linebacker Ben Boulware said, referring to a one-point loss to Pittsburgh a week earlier. "I think the veteran guys did a good job of getting everybody ready for this week."
"This is a very special time at Clemson led by very special seniors," coach Dabo Swinney said. "They got their 45th win (as a class) at Clemson tonight. We look forward to competing in the championship game. I know how hard it is to win."
The Tigers (10-1, 7-1 ACC) completed their conference schedule by scoring the game's first 28 points in less than 18 minutes and delighting the huge turnout of Clemson fans following their team on the road.
A fast start was part of the emphasis.
"We wanted to make it happen," guard Tyrone Crowder said. "I feel that our best game is still ahead of us."
Clemson's spot in the College Football Playoff likely depends on results next week at home against rival South Carolina and then in the ACC title game against Virginia Tech or North Carolina in Orlando, Fla.
"Going forward, all we can do is control each day," Boulware said.
The Tigers tied for the ACC's Atlantic Division title with Louisville but owned the tiebreaker based on defeating the Cardinals on Oct. 1.
Gallman, a redshirt junior, gained 161 yards on 22 carries, setting a Clemson career record at 16 games with 100 or more rushing yards. With conditions for throwing the ball a bit dicey, Gallman was ready for a heavy workload.
"They didn't tell me that, (but) I knew it was coming," Gallman said.
Watson, who also threw a touchdown pass, completed 23 of 33 throws for 202 yards.
"We got off to an awful start," Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. "A lot of it was that they played well, and a lot of it is we just didn't execute."
Wake Forest (6-5, 3-4), which has lost four of its last five games, threatened with an 82-yard drive in the third quarter but settled for Mike Weaver's 23-yard field goal to pull within 28-13.
Clemson used a fourth-down conversion in the fourth quarter to lead to Gallman's 1-yard touchdown run with 10:50 left.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Kyle Kearns made his first career start for Wake Forest, which was without three-year starter John Wolford because of an ankle injury.
Kearns, who had thrown seven passes all season before Saturday, was 7 of 18 for 126 yards (with two completions accounting for 92 yards).
"We were very limited in what we were able to do," Clawson said. "Against a good defense, it's hard to be limited."
It was the fifth game this season that Wake Forest failed to score a second-half touchdown.
Clemson, apparently intent on sending a message after last week's stunning upset, led 28-10 at halftime, aided by three first-quarter touchdowns.
The Tigers struck first on Gallman's 42-yard run on fourth-and-1 on their first possession.
Watson ran 3 yards untouched for the next touchdown with 6:22 left in the opening quarter.
After the second touchdown, Clemson's recovery of an onside kick was negated by an offsides penalty.
The Tigers scored soon anyway, with Watson throwing 15 yards to receiver Mike Williams.
Other than benefiting from a roughing-the-punter penalty, Wake Forest was without a first down on four first-quarter possessions.
Trailing 28-0, Wake Forest scored on Weaver's 42-yard field goal after a recovered muffed punt with 10:04 to go in the second quarter.
Wake Forest's next possession resulted in running back Cade Carney's 1-yard touchdown run, but the Demon Deacons managed only 93 yards of total offense in the first half.
NOTES: Clemson has held a top-5 national ranking when meeting Wake Forest in three of the last four years. ... Clemson WR Artavis Scott extended his streak of at least one catch to 34 games with two first-quarter receptions. ... Clemson's second-quarter sack pushed the defense's string to 41 consecutive games with a sack. ... The 21 first-quarter points were the most for Clemson in an ACC game this year. ... Wake Forest was tied for ninth nationally in turnover ratio at plus-9 entering the game. ... Wake Forest, which hasn't defeated a team currently holding a winning record, closes the regular season next Saturday against visiting Boston College.