Wofford’s 2011 team is the closest any FCS team has come to beating Clemson
Since 2011, Clemson has won 10 or more football games every year. The Tigers’ current streak of eight straight years is tied for the fourth longest streak of 10-win seasons in the history of college football and they are well on their way to making it nine straight which will tie Texas’ run from 2001-’09.
However, the streak almost did not happen.
In Week 2 of the 2011 season, Wofford nearly beat the Tigers at Memorial Stadium. As Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney recalls, he remembers one thing very clearly about that sunny afternoon at Death Valley.
“Getting booed coming off at halftime,” he said.
The Tigers were getting booed because they were tied 21-21 with the Terriers. Clemson did not take its first lead in the game until the 7:54 mark of the third quarter on a Tajh Boyd 5-yard run, giving his team a 28-24 lead.
Besides being booed, Swinney also recalled fans telling then offensive coordinator Chad Morris, now the head coach at Arkansas, to go back to high school where he was just two years removed.
“I heard that a few times,” Swinney recalled while laughing earlier this week. “‘That is why you should not hire a high school coach.’ I heard that a couple of times.”
Swinney also remembers the Terriers having a wide-open Brenton Bersin for a 66-yard touchdown pass, which gave them a 14-6 lead with 4:52 to play in the first quarter.
“I remember them having the most open guy in college football history,” Swinney said. “That big tall kid… He was so wide open. He could have walked … he literally back peddled to catch it and then back peddled to the end zone 50 yards he was so wide open.
“I do remember that, he probably should have got an ESPY that year for most wide open wide open out.”
It not quite happen like that but Swinney was right, Bersin was wide open. Bersin also caught a 61-yard pass in the game that set up another score for the Terriers. It was the only two passes quarterback Mitch Allen completed in the game on seven attempts.
Allen also ran for a 27-yard touchdown as Wofford finished the afternoon with 272 rushing yards.
“They were tough, man. They were tough. That was a tough day,” Swinney said. “They had a big ole running back. I can’t remember that kids name, but he was a great player. He was a sledgehammer, a fullback, running back guy. That is about it. But we won. I remember that more than anything.”
The Tigers won 35-27 as Boyd finally got things rolling in the second half after the Tigers’ offense hiccuped for much of the first 30 minutes. Boyd finished the afternoon 18 of 29 for 261 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
“We played a little better in the second half,” Swinney said. “Tajh Boyd … we tried to figure out who kidnapped our quarterback. Chad was about to go crazy in the locker room. ‘I don’t know what happened! I don’t know! The quarterback just … I don’t know!’ He was just going crazy in there, but Tajh settled in and we got it going there in the second half.
“They played us tough.”
Entering today’s game at Death Valley against the Terriers, Clemson is a perfect 33-0 against FCS teams since the NCAA formed the division prior to the 1978 season.
Only one FCS squad has stayed within double digits of the Tigers, a distinction held by Wofford’s 2011 team. It’s 27 points stand as the most by an FCS school against Clemson to this date.
“These games aren’t easy. Everybody just thinks you roll out there and win,” Swinney said. “You have to play well, especially when you are playing these teams where their scheme kind of neutralizes you a little bit and it is advantageous in games like this.
“It will be a good challenge.”
And the Tigers hope they don’t get booed this time.
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