9.) Dec. 27, 2009
Clemson 21 Kentucky 13
Clemson snapped its three-game bowl losing streak, which dated back to the 2005 Champs Sports Bowl.
C.J. Spiller, who picked up game MVP honors, rushed 15 times for 67 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 58 yards. With his touchdown against Kentucky, Spiller became the only player in Clemson history to score a touchdown in 14 consecutive games.
A bulk of his production on the ground came in the further quarter. The most important carry of them all was his 8-yard touchdown run, which gave Clemson a 21-13 lead with 10:13 left in the game.
That play was setup about a minute earlier when Kavell Conner stripped Kentucky wide receiver Gene McCaskill.
Clemson stymied Kentucky's "WildCobb" rushing attack, even without a pair of its interior tackles and starting middle linebacker. The Tigers held the Wildcats to just 167 yards rushing on 42 carries. Randall Cobb rushed for 36 yards. Derrick Locke carried 18 times for 64 yards.
The strong defensive performance came without Brandon Maye manning the middle of the linebacker corps. He played only a few snaps in the first half before missing the entire second half because of a knee injury that he suffered during practice. His absence forced freshman Corico Hawkins and Jeremy Campbell onto the field.
Harper led Clemson with 79 yards rushing.
Ford scored on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Parker with 16 seconds to play in the first quarter.
Harper carried the load on Clemson's second touchdown drive, rushing four times for 62 yards. The five-play drive ended on a one-yard scoring run, which put the Tigers up 14-10.
He finished with 79 yards on eight rushes.
Swinney's first bowl loss, a Gator Bowl defeat to Nebraska, capped a wild 2008 season, during which he was named interim head coach. Swinney had a full off-season and his own staff at his disposal when the 2009 season began.
Because of the disappointing end to the season, which included losses South Carolina and Georgia Tech in the ACC title game, Clemson needed some momentum going into 2010.
Before and after
Clemson was selected for the Music City Bowl after dropping a heart-breaker to Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship just a few weeks earlier.
The Tigers finished the season with a 9-5 record and went on to sign solid group of prospects in February of 2010. That class included DeAndre Hopkins, Bashaud Breeland and Darius Robinson.