Clemson Football: Top 10 Bowl Games
For the first time since 1991, the Clemson Tigers have won the ACC Championship and have done so in only the third year of the Dabo Swinney era. The Tigers have claimed their first ACC Championship since the conference was split into divisions and have also claimed their first ever BCS Bowl bid.
While Swinney continues to bring back the winning mentality that permeates Clemson's historic football program, we will take a little time to look back at some of the best bowl victories in Clemson football as the current team prepares to head south to Miami to face off against the West Virginia Mountaineers. All of the Clemson Tiger faithful will look back at these past bowl victories and hope they will be able to add the 2012 Orange Bowl to that list.
2003 Peach Bowl
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A memorable season for Clemson fans, 2003 saw an upset of the No. 3-ranked Florida Seminoles and a 63-17 whooping of their rival South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Clemson was pitted against the sixth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers, and former head coach Tommy Bowden was on the hot seat after another up-and-down season. But, the Tigers proved victorious in Atlanta behind quarterback Charlie Whitehurst with a 27-14 win over the Volunteers, effectively saving Tommy Bowden's job for the next five years. It was still one of the more memorable times under the Tommy Bowden era nonetheless.
1990 Hall of Fame Bowl
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One of the most notable games and seasons in the Ken Hatfield era, the Clemson Tigers were pitted against the Illinois Fighting Illini in the Hall of Fame Bowl. The Tigers proved victorious with a 30-0 shutout of the Fighting Illini and ended the season on a high note with a Top 15 ranking in the collegiate football polls.
Hatfield was the last coach before Dabo Swinney to win an ACC Championship for the Tigers. And back in these days, the option was the offense of the time for defenses to stop; Clemson was known for its "smash mouth" ability and was incredibly capable of running the football.
1959 BlueBonnet Bowl
We head back to the Frank Howard era to reflect on the former Blue Bonnet Bowl back in 1959. In this bowl, the Clemson Tigers played against the TCU Horned Frogs and won handily 23-7.
Howard, who first brought the tradition and his Rock to Death Valley, South Carolina from the more known Death Valley, California, is among the most celebrated coaches in Clemson Tiger history, and it is because of him that at least 80,000 orange fans fill Frank Howard Memorial Stadium for seven out of 12 games during the football stadium.
1989 Gator Bowl
One of many memorable season during the Danny Ford era was the 1989 Gator Bowl in which they played—yes, you guessed it—the West Virginia Mountaineers. Fortunately, the Mountaineers got the short end of the stick as they fell to the Tigers 27-7. A memorable moment of this game was when former Tiger defensive tackle Chester McGlockton wreaked havoc on West Virginia all night, made life difficult for their offensive line and helped limit them to only seven points.
1988 Florida Citrus Bowl
The 1988 Florida Citrus Bowl pitted the Danny-Ford-led Clemson Tigers against the Oklahoma Sooners. The Florida Citrus Bowl is now known as the Capital One Bowl.
The Tigers managed to escape from here with a 13-6 win, a narrow victory for head coach Ford over former Oklahoma Sooners head coach Barry Switzer, both of whom were great coaches in their own right during their respective tenures.
1950 Orange Bowl
The 1950 Orange Bowl pitted the Clemson Tigers against the University of Miami, known by all nationwide as "The U."
Both of these historic football programs were known for their tough styles of play, and this is long before Miami joined the ACC. In this non-ACC matchup, the Tigers proved victorious by a very slim margin, winning 15-14 to earn their Orange Bowl victory.
1978 Gator Bowl
The Danny Ford era began in this 1978 Gator Bowl as the Clemson Tigers faced off against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Ford did not begin coaching the Tigers until this bowl game, and on his first time coaching, he led them to a 17-15 victory over the Buckeyes.
This was a great sign for all Clemson fans, as Ford would become one of the most celebrated Clemson head coaches in history next to Frank Howard.
1986 Gator Bowl
We will stay in the Danny Ford era to reflect on the 1986 Gator Bowl, where the Clemson Tigers faced off against the Stanford Cardinals. The Tigers managed to emerge with a 27-21 victory over the Stanford Cardinals, who had been a team of notable admiration and respect back in the 1980s, and they have come back into the spotlight these days thanks to this guy under center named Andrew Luck.
1987 Gator Bowl
The 1987 Florida Citrus Bowl saw two legendary coaches for their respective programs pitted against one another as the Ford-led Clemson Tigers faced off against the Joe-Paterno-led Nittany Lions.
While Paterno would ultimately gain a lot more long-term fame with the Nittany Lions and ultimately become one of the winningest coaches in college football history, Ford proved to be the victor in this matchup of two national championship head coached teams, winning 35-10.
1981 Orange Bowl
And of course, who can forget Clemson's greatest football achievement: winning the 1981 national championship under head coach Danny Ford.
The Clemson Tigers went undefeated en route to their first and only national championship, including a 22-15 win over the once-famed Nebraska Corhnuskers in the Orange Bowl National Championship Game, with notable players like Perry Tuttle among the only national championship team in Clemson football history.