Clemson’s top 10 bowl victories
Over the years, Clemson has represented itself well in bowl games.
The Tigers have compiled a 22-20 record in bowl games. Clemson ranks 15th all-time in overall bowl victories, just one behind Penn State, Ohio State and Auburn.
Clemson’s 43 bowl appearances, counting this year’s Cotton Bowl, are currently tied at No. 17 all-time.
Playing Notre Dame in the 2018 Cotton Bowl Classic on Dec. 29 will mean the Tigers will have played in a bowl game in 30 of the last 34 years. That is among the top-10 bowl appearances since 1985. Clemson has also been bowl-eligible for 20 consecutive years.
The Cotton Bowl will mark the program’s 34th bowl appearance in the last 42 seasons, dating back to the 1977 Gator Bowl.
Clemson was bowl eligible in 1982 but banned itself from participating in one due to an NCAA investigation. In 1983, the NCAA banned the Tigers’ from postseason participation, and the ACC followed with another year of probation in 1984. By the way, Clemson was bowl eligible in all three seasons, as well as the 1980 season, but it did not get invited to a bowl game that year.
In 2004, Clemson banned itself from bowl participation as a punishment for the team’s involvement in the bench-clearing brawl against rival South Carolina.
Since 1977, Clemson has been bowl-eligible in 39 of the 42 football seasons – 1992 (5-6), 1994 (5-6) and 1998 (3-8) are the only three seasons they have not.
The Tigers have beat some of the top programs in college football history in bowl games. The list includes prominent programs like Alabama, LSU, Miami, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State and Tennessee.
Here is a list of Clemson’s top 10 bowl wins:
1982 Orange Bowl: Clemson claimed its first national championship in school history and completed an undefeated 1981 season with a 22-15 victory over Nebraska at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla.
After trailing 7-3 in the first quarter, the Tigers scored 19 unanswered points to take control of the game, highlighted by a 13-yard Homer Jordan to Perry Tuttle touchdown pass. Jordan was named the game’s Offensive MVP after he totaled 180 yards of offense.
All-American linebacker Jeff Davis was named the Defensive MVP after he recorded 14 tackles in his final game as a Tiger. The Clemson defense held the Cornhuskers to 256 total yards, including just 63 passing yards.
Defensive end Bill Smith added a career-high 10 tackles to help the cause.
2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game: Deshaun Watson threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow with one-second remaining as Clemson won its second national championship with a 35-31 victory over Alabama at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
Clemson rallied for 14 points and 10 points down to knock off the defending champions, who a year early rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Clemson in the 2016 CFP National Championship Game.
The Tigers trailed Bama, 24-14, heading into the fourth quarter, but Watson led Clemson back with three touchdown drives in the final 15 minutes. It’s the only time in the Nick Saban era at Alabama that has happened.
Watson totaled a championship game record 420 passing yards and three touchdowns in the win. He finished with 463 total yards and four scores, also running for a second-quarter touchdown. Renfrow finished with a game-high 10 catches for 92 yards.
To this point, it is still the only time Saban has lost in the title game. He is 6-1 in national championship games as a head coach.
2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl: Chandler Catanzaro nailed a 37-yard field goal as time expired as Clemson rallied to beat LSU, 25-24, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The Tigers entered the fourth quarter trailing LSU 24-13. However, behind quarterback Tajh Boyd, Clemson rallied to get one of the biggest wins in school history.
Catanzaro made a 26-yard field goal with 9:26 to play to start the comeback. Boyd then found Deandre Hopkins for a 12-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 24-22 with 2:47 to play.
The Clemson defense then forced a three-and-out to give the ball back to Boyd. Clemson faced a fourth-and-16 at its own 14-yard line, when Hopkins made a sliding 26-yard catch to keep the game-winning drive alive. The play is simply known as 4-and-16 at Clemson.
Boyd completed the last five passes of the drive to set up Catanzaro’s game-winning kick.
2017 Fiesta Bowl: Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson overcame a rocky start to run for two touchdowns and throw for another as the Tigers shut out Ohio State 31-0 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
It is still the only time an Urban Meyer Coached team has been shut out and it was the first time for the Ohio State program. It was also the worst margin of defeat for the Buckeyes in a bowl game.
Clemson’s defense was the story of the night as they held the Buckeyes to just 215 total yards. Ohio State entered the game averaging 42.7 points and 480.0 yards per game.
Defensive end Clelin Ferrell was named the MVP thanks to his three tackles for a loss, including one sack. Watson was the offensive MVP after accounting for 316 total yards to go with his three touchdowns.
1991 Hall of Fame Bowl: Clemson’s defense dominated the line of scrimmage and the ball game as Clemson recorded its first shutout in a bowl game with a 30-0 thrashing of Illinois at Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
The Tigers, who had the No. 1 defense in the country in 1990, held the Illini to 59 rushing yards and to 247 overall. Cornerback Arlington returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, his third of the season, which is still a Clemson record today.
Quarterback DeChane Cameron was named the game’s MVP after he completed 14-of-19 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns.
1978 Gator Bowl: Defensive tackle Charlie Bauman intercepted an Art Schlichter pass in the final minutes to secure a 17-15 win over Ohio State and its legendary head coach Woody Hayes.
Unfortunately, the game is known for the punch Hayes threw and landed on Bauman as the Clemson defender came to his feet. Hayes was fired by Ohio State the next morning.
It was also the first game of the Danny Ford era at Clemson. The win concluded an 11-1 season in 1978 as the Tigers finished No. 6 in the national rankings.
Linebacker Bubba Brown was the star of the game for Clemson as he tallied 22 tackles. Randy Scott had 16 tackles for the Tigers, while defensive tackle Jim Stuckey had 11.
2016 Orange Bowl: For the second straight year, Clemson defeated Oklahoma in a bowl game and for the second straight year it did it in a dominating fashion.
The Tigers outscored the Sooners 21-0 in the second half for a 37-17 victory at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Deshaun Watson outplayed future Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, as he totaled 332 yards of offense and was responsible for two touchdowns, including a 35-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow.
Clemson’s defense held Oklahoma to 67 rushing yards. The Tigers forced two turnovers in the second half. Defensive end Kevin Dodd had 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack in the win.
2014 Orange Bowl: Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd accounted for a Clemson bowl record six touchdowns, including five passing touchdowns as the Tigers hung on to beat Ohio State, 40-35, at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Boyd ran 48 yards for a touchdown and then threw two scores each to Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant, while tight end Stanton Seckinger also caught a touchdown pass, which turned out to be the game winner with 6:16 left in the game.
Boyd threw for a then Clemson record 378 passing yards. He also ran the ball for 127 yards on 20 carries. His 505 total yards is still a Clemson record for a bowl game, as is his six total touchdowns and five touchdown passes.
Linebacker Stephone Anthony picked off a Braxton Miller pass in the final minute to secure the Clemson victory.
2004 Peach Bowl: Charlie Whitehurst threw for 246 yards, while running back Chad Jasmin rushed for a career-high 130 yards and scored one touchdown as Clemson shocked Tennessee, 27-14, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The Clemson defense held Tennessee to 38 rushing yards, while recording six sacks. Linebacker Leroy Hill was named the game’s MVP on defense.
1989 Citrus Bowl: Clemson became the first ACC school in history to beat Oklahoma as safety James Lott knocked down a pass in the end zone on the last play of the game to secure the 13-6 victory at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
The Tigers held Oklahoma’s powerful rushing attack, which led the nation in 1988, to 116 yards. The Sooners had just 254 yards overall and turned the ball over twice. Linebacker Jesse Hatcher was named the defensive MVP of the game and running back Terry Allen, who scored the game-winning touchdown, was named the offensive MVP.