One Hour To Kickoff: History lesson, and a leather helmet, with Boston College in Clemson

Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley recovers a fourth-quarter fumble to score a touchdown during an NCAA college football game against Boston College, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/ Richard Shiro)

CLEMSON – Gather ‘round, kids, and hear all about the first Boston College-Clemson game – which happened to be the Tigers’ first bowl game.

This past New Year’s Day marked the 75th anniversary of both firsts in Clemson history. That year also provided the first All-American first-teamer in Clemson history, quarterback Banks McFadden – for whom today’s BC-Clemson rivalry trophy is co-named.

Clemson won the 1940 Cotton Bowl Classic, which was the fourth contest in the history of that bowl and still to date the Tigers’ only appearance in the Cotton Bowl. The final score was 6-3 over BC; the Eagles took a second-quarter lead on a 34-yard field goal by Alex Lukachik, but Charlie Timmons ran it in from 2 yards out for the only touchdown of the game. Clemson doubled up BC in rushing yards, 204-102, and gave head coach Jess Neely a win (over BC’s legendary coach Frank Leahy) in his final game as Clemson’s head coach. Neely would resign nine days after the Cotton Bowl, and Frank Howard took over the next season.

The Tigers and Eagles actually met many more times during the span of the next 20 years. Clemson held a 6-4-1 edge from 1940-1960 while Boston College was independent.

So in a way, Clemson and Boston College brandish a vintage rivalry, which is fitting because tonight’s matchup might be – to borrow my own line from last year, which a strange amount of readers enjoyed – an old-school slobberknocker.

Iowa-Northwestern was earlier, Michigan State-Michigan’s going on right now and Boston College-Clemson should add to the defensive slugfests. Look for both starting quarterbacks – Boston College’s Jeff Smith, the program’s first true freshman to make a start at quarterback since Chase Rettig in 2010, and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson – to make plays with their feet.

Maybe a defender wins the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy, which is named after McFadden and Charlie O’Rourke Boston College’s quarterback in the 1940 Cotton Bowl. The winner has to wear the leather helmet, which if you’ve seen pictures from past years is part-entertaining, part-hideous.) More likely, though, it’ll be a placekicker, based on history.

Clemson has won six of the seven O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy honors as player of the game: quarterback Cole Stoudt (2014), defensive end Vic Beasley (2013), quarterback Tajh Boyd (2012), placekickers Chandler Catanzaro (2011) and Richard Jackson (2009) and tailback C.J. Spiller (2008.) The lone BC win gave it to running back Montell Harris in 2010.

Also, if you missed the news, D.J. Reader is on his way back.

-AB