When Clemson beat Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31 of last year, it was a momentous day for a lot of reasons.
For one, it advanced the Tigers to the national championship game where they went on to beat Alabama to win the program’s first nation title since 1981. The 31-0 shutout was also Clemson’s first shutout in a bowl win since beating Illinois 30-0 back in the 1991 Hall of Fame Bowl.
It was also the first time an Urban Meyer led team had ever been shutout in his coaching career and the first time the Buckeyes failed to score a point in any game since 1993. It was also Ohio State’s worst loss in a bowl game since the 1928 Rose Bowl.
However, there is something else that happened that night in Glendale, Ariz., that no one has talked about. Maybe it got lost in all the excitement of the Tigers winning the national championship eight days later. But when Clemson defeated Meyer and Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl it gave Clemson a 2-0 record, both in bowl games, against the third winningest coach (percentage basis) in college football history.
Meyer trails only Knute Rockne of Notre Dame (.881) and Frank Leahy of Boston College and Notre Dame (.864) on the all-time list of coaches who have served at least 10 years.
Also, with the win over Meyer, Clemson is now 5-0 in bowl games against the top five-winningest coaches in college football history. That is quite an accomplishment for a program some fail to associate with some of the best programs in the country.
The Tigers perfect mark against college football’s best coaches started in the program’s first bowl game. Clemson defeated Leahy in the 1940 Cotton Bowl when Leahy was at Boston College. The Tigers have a 2-0 mark against Meyer, and defeated No. 4 Barry Switzer and Oklahoma in the 1989 Citrus Bowl.
Of course, Clemson defeated No. 5 Tom Osborne in the 1982 Orange Bowl, a 22-15 win that gave Clemson its first national championship.
When looking at the list of top 50 coaches all-time, Clemson has an impressive 12-1 record against those coaches in bowl games, the only loss was to Nick Saban and Alabama in the 2016 National Championship Game. However, as we all know, the Tigers avenged that one loss this past year when they took down Saban and the Crimson Tide in the 2017 title game.