While there have been many minor surprises throughout the last 25 years, these 10 wins have caused the most shock for Clemson fans for various reasons. Some because they were unexpected, some because of the way they happened. And, of course, these are up for debate on our message boards by clicking here.
#10: 1989 Clemson 30 N.C. State 10
Clemson crushed the Wolfpack on October 21st in front of a raucous crowd in Death Valley. The Tigers entered the game 5-2, but had lost two of the last three games, including at Duke and at home to Georgia Tech.
State entered the game ranked #12 in the country but the Wolfpack were no match for Clemson on this day. The game was shocking for the reasons that the Tigers had struggled the previous few weeks and State seemed to be peaking. The Wolfpack also had beaten Clemson the past three years, and it seemed as if Dick Sheridan and company simply had Coach Ford's number.
The fact the Tigers won the game was not as shocking as the dominating fashion in which they it did.
#9: 1999 Clemson 33 Virginia 14
This was Tommy Bowden and his newfound passing attack's coming out party. Bowden, in just his second game as Clemson coach, unleashed Brandon Streeter and the fast pace offense on a confused and befuddled George Welsh.
Clemson lost the first game of the Bowden era 13-10 to Marshall that year, and questions surrounded whether or Bowden had the personnel to implement his fast paced attack. The Cavaliers entered the game ranked #19 and was a double digit favorite in the first ACC game for both teams. However, Clemson dominated the game from start to finish and officially ushered in the era of the passing game in Tiger Town.
Brandon Streeter threw for a school record 343 yards and was named the National Player of the Week by USA Today. This game also marked the first win for Tommy Bowden at Clemson along with his first ACC win.
#8: 1994 Clemson 28 North Carolina 17
Clemson had stumbled and bumbled to a 3-5 start to the season under first year head coach Tommy West before the Tigers traveled to Chapel Hill to face the #19 Tar Heels under Mack Brown.
Offensively, the Tigers were anemic; having averaged only 12 points a game against Division I opponents to that point in the year. To make matters worse, North Carolina was widely regarded as the 2nd best defense behind Florida State (whom Clemson was shut out against 2 weeks earlier) in the ACC.
But the Tiger offense, led by an all first year freshman backfield in Nealon Greene and Raymond Priester, pounded the Tar Heels 28-17 in front of a sold out crowd in Chapel Hill. Clemson's defense also was dominant, holding the Tar Heels to 11 yards rushing on this day. North Carolina would eventually finish the season 8-4 and ranked 21st in the country.
|RB Raymond Priester was involved in several "surprising" wins during his Clemson career.|
Clemson started the 1996 season slowly, going 2-3 with embarrassing losses to North Carolina (45-0) and Florida State (34-3), but Tommy West's Tigers quickly turned things around, winning the next 3 games over Duke, Georgia Tech, and Maryland.
But the Tigers headed to Charlottesville underdogs against the 15th ranked Cavaliers. To add to Clemson's difficulty, snow and sleet fell during the game, making the playing conditions downright brutal. Coach Tommy West turned to his running game to try and offset the bad weather, and he was rewarded by having two players rush for over 120 yards. Kelton Dunnican had a career high 123 yards rushing (including the game winning run) and Raymond Priester rushed for 122 yards to help pave the way for the upset.
It also marked the second time in three years that Clemson had defeated a ranked Virginia team in Charlottesville.
#6: 1983 Clemson 52 Maryland 27
Clemson was officially on probation and not eligible for the ACC Championship they were about to earn on the field. Maryland came to Clemson ranked #11 behind the arm of Boomer Esiason.
3000 Clemson students arrived at Death Valley at the crack of dawn to blow up over 360,000 balloons in an attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records. As the Tigers ran down the hill prior to kickoff, the balloons were released in one of the most majestic and inspiring moments in Death Valley history.
The football team backed up the emotion of the balloon launch, thoroughly whipping the Terrapins up and down the field. Mike Eppley threw three touchdown passes and Kevin Mack rushed for 186 yards as the Tigers "unofficially" wrapped up an ACC Championship.
Stay tuned to CUTigers.com tomorrow for the rest of Scott's list of the 10 most suprising wins in Clemson football history. Which game will rank #1? The answer just might surprise you!