Tigers Finish in Top 25

The Clemson Tigers, on the strength of 4 consecutive wins to end the 2003 season, finished the year ranked in the top 25. In both major polls, the Tigers were ranked at #22 in the final rankings.

Clemson finished the 2003 college football season ranked 22nd in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN Coach's Polls released early Monday morning. It is the second time Clemson has finished in the final top 25 of both polls under Head Coach Tommy Bowden. Clemson finished 14th in USA Today and 16th by Associated Press in 2000, Bowden's second season with the program.

Clemson won each of its last four games by a combined 108 points to go from an unranked team to the number-22 final ranking. Clemson was not ranked in the preseason or at any time during the regular season, but was ranked in the final poll. It is the first time in school history that Clemson has been unranked the entire regular season, then finished in the final top 25.

Clemson's 4-0 finish to the season included a pair of wins over teams ranked in the top 10 in the nation at the time of the game. It is the longest winning streak to close a season since 1990 when Clemson won its last five games, including a 30-0 victory over Illinois in the Hall of Fame Bowl.

Clemson started its streak with a 26-10 victory over a third-ranked Florida State team on November 8, and finished it with a 27-14 win over sixth-ranked Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on January 2. It marked the first time Clemson had defeated two top-six ranked teams in a four-game period. The win over the Seminoles is the highest ranked victory in Clemson history.

The 2003 season marked the first time since 1981 that Clemson has defeated more than one top 10 team in the same season. The Tigers National Championship team of that season defeated a fourth-ranked Georgia team, an eighth-ranked North Carolina team and a fourth-ranked Nebraska team.

Florida State finished 10th in the final 2003 ESPN/USA Today Poll and 11th by Associated Press, while Tennessee finished 16th in the coach's poll and 15th in Associated Press. It is the first time Clemson has defeated two teams that finished in the top 20 of either poll since 1989 when Clemson defeated a Florida State team that finished the season ranked third in the final AP poll and a Virginia team that finished the season ranked 18th in the final AP poll.

The Tigers were 17th in the final Sagarin computer ranking as published by USA Today. Clemson's schedule ranking was 23rd according to the same service.

"We felt if we defeated a sixth-ranked University of Tennessee team in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl we would deserve to be ranked in the final poll," said Bowden. "That was certainly a motivating factor for our players throughout our preparation."

"This top 25 ranking is a testimony to the players and coaches, their hard work and dedication throughout the season. This has been a rewarding season, but we strive to do more."

Associated Press Top-25 College Football Poll
Team (First-place votes)RecordPointsPrevious Rank
1. U-S-C Trojans (48) 12-1 1,608 1
2. L-S-U Tigers (17) 13-1 1,576 2
3. Oklahoma Sooners 12-2 1,476 3
4. Ohio State Buckeyes 11-2 1,411 7
5. Miami-Florida Hurricanes 11-2 1,329 10
6. Michigan Wolverines 10-3 1,281 4
7. Georgia Bulldogs 11-3 1,255 11
8. Iowa Hawkeyes 10-3 1,107 13
9. Washington State Cougars 10-3 1,060 15
10. Miami-Ohio Redhawks 13-1 932 14
11. Florida State Seminoles 10-3 905 9
12. Texas Longhorns 10-3 887 5
13. Ole Miss Rebels 10-3 845 16
14. Kansas State Wildcats 11-4 833 8
15. Tennessee Volunteers 10-3 695 6
16. Boise State Broncos 13-1 645 18
17. Maryland Terrapins 10-3 564 23
18. Purdue Boilermakers 9-4 526 12
19. Nebraska Cornhuskers 10-3 520 22
20. Minnesota Golden Gophers 10-3 368 24
21. Utah Utes 10-2 308 25
22. Clemson Tigers 9-4 230 NR
23. Bowling Green Falcons 11-3 189 NR
24. Florida Gators 8-5 165 17
25. TCU Horned Frogs 11-2 126 19
Others receiving votes: Oklahoma State 109, Arkansas 73, Virginia 36, Northern Illinois 30, Auburn 8, Oregon State 8, Pittsburgh 7, North Carolina State 7, West Virginia 4, Connecticut 2.

ESPN/USA TODAY Top-25 College Football Poll
                                                                   Previous
      Team (First-place Votes)                Record      Points     Rank
      ------------------------                ------      ------     ----
1. L-S-U Tigers (60)                     13-1       1,572        2
2. U-S-C Trojans (3)                     12-1       1,514        1
3. Oklahoma Sooners                      12-2       1,429        3
4. Ohio State Buckeyes                   11-2       1,370        6
5. Miami-Florida Hurricanes              11-2       1,306        9
6. Georgia Bulldogs                      11-3       1,183       11
7. Michigan Wolverines                   10-3       1,140        4
8. Iowa Hawkeyes                         10-3       1,119       12
9. Washington State Cougars              10-3         983       14
10. Florida State Seminoles               10-3         929        8
11. Texas Longhorns                       10-3         894        5
12. Miami-Ohio RedHawks                   13-1         800       15
13. Kansas State Wildcats                 11-4         746       10
14. Ole Miss Rebels                       10-3         730       18
15. Boise State Broncos                   13-1         704       16
16. Tennessee Volunteers                  10-3         684        7
17. Minnesota Golden Gophers              10-3         553       20
18. Nebraska Cornhuskers                  10-3         532       21
19. Purdue Boilermakers                    9-4         510       13
20. Maryland Terrapins                    10-3         462       24
21. Utah Utes                             10-2         327       25
22. Clemson Tigers                         9-4         219       NR
23. Bowling Green Falcons                 11-3         170       NR
24. T-C-U Horned Frogs                    11-2         145       19
25. Florida Gators                         8-5         124       17
Others Receiving Votes: Northern Illinois 80, Arkansas 74, Oklahoma State 63, Auburn 20, North Carolina State 17, Oregon State 15, West Virginia 14, Southern Mississippi 12, Fresno State 6, Hawaii 6, Pittsburgh 5, Texas Tech 4, Virginia 3, Marshall 3, Boston College 2, California 1, Connecticut 1, Memphis 1, Michigan State 1, Missouri 1, North Texas 1.

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