Post and Courier
July 11, 2014

Clemson's 5 best bowl wins: No doubt about No. 1

Posted: 12/26/2013 07:00 p.m.
Updated: 12/26/2013 07:07 p.m.


By Gene Sapakoff



Clemson owns bowl victories over national championship winning coaches Joe Paterno and Tom Osborne, Phillip Fulmer and Barry Switzer, Woody Hayes and Les Miles. The Tigers almost pulled an upset against No. 1 LSU in the 1959 Sugar Bowl, losing 7-0 to an undefeated team featuring Billy Cannon.

But picking Clemson's best bowl win is easy. The Tigers' own national title-clincher - the 1982 Orange Bowl win over Nebraska - might top the list forever.

That, and the rest of Clemson's top 5 bowl wins:

1. 1982 Orange Bowl

With the national championship on the line in Miami, undefeated Clemson held onto the football for more than five minutes and ran the clock down to six seconds. Then Andy Headen deflected Nebraska quarterback Mark Mauer's final pass to preserve a 22-15 victory.

The third quarter was huge. Perry Tuttle scored on a 13-yard pass from Homer Jordan, Billy Davis' 47-yard punt return set up Donald Iguwebuike's third field goal and a Jeff Davis-led defense smothered the Cornhuskers.

The game put Clemson on the big-time college football map, and altered fan expectations.



2. 1989 Citrus Bowl

A 13-6 victory over No. 10 Oklahoma during Barry Switzer's wishbone prime stands on its own. But this game also was the third of four straight Florida bowl wins to close out the Danny Ford era at Clemson.

Terry Allen provided the margin of victory, a 4-yard touchdown run with 10:28 remaining. Freshman cornerback Dexter Davis broke up a pass in the end zone as time expired.



3. 1978 Gator Bowl

The first Clemson bowl win since 1959 is usually remembered for Ohio State head coach Woody Hayes, and his unfortunate swing at Tigers middle guard Charlie Bauman after Bauman's interception killed the Buckeyes' final possession.

So many other notable things: Danny Ford's first game as Clemson head coach; 22 tackles for Bubba Brown; Jim Stuckey's tackle of Art Schlichter on a 2-point conversion try in the fourth quarter.



4. 2004 Peach Bowl

Unranked Clemson's 27-14 upset of No. 6 Tennessee capped an unlikely finish to a cursed and charmed ride for Tommy Bowden and Co. The head coach appeared on his way out following a 45-17 loss at Wake Forest in November.

Clemson stunned No. 3 Florida State the next week and finished with four straight wins, including a 63-17 rout at South Carolina, to reach 9-4.

5. 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl

It wasn't just a 25-24 upset of No. 7 LSU, it was the New Year's Eve drama. Clemson trailed 24-13 in the fourth quarter before bouncing back with three scores: a 26-yard Chandler Catanzaro field goal; a 12-yard touchdown pass from Tajh Boyd to DeAndre Hopkins (2-point pass failed); and Catanzaro's 37-yard field goal on the final play.

The game-winning kick was set up by Boyd's 26-yard pass to Hopkins on fourth-and-16.



Clemson's 5 worst bowl losses:

Year/Bowl Score Notes

1. 1995 Gator Bowl Syracuse, 41-0 Carryover: 45-0 August loss at UNC

2. 2012 Orange Bowl West Virginia, 70-33 Clemson led 17-14 after 1st quarter

3. 2002 Tangerine Texas Tech, 55-15 Mike Leach, Wes Welker, misery

4. 1992 Citrus Bowl California, 37-13 Start of the end for Ken Hatfield

5. 1977 Gator Bowl Pittsburgh, 34-3 Clemson's first bowl game in 18 years



- Gene Sapakoff



Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff