A Remarkable Turnaround

Just a few weeks ago, few could have seen how Clemson could walk into Miami's Orange Bowl and came away with a victory.

But the Tigers (5-4, 4-3 ACC) continued their renaissance by stunning the Hurricanes with a come-from-behind 24-17 victory on a rainy Saturday night.

And, aside from a fake field goal attempt, they did it the old-fashioned way, with a dominating performance that saw them outrush the Hurricanes 113-101 and outgain them overall 371-346.

The Tigers, who stretched their winning streak to four and are within one victory of becoming bowl eligible, held the Hurricanes scoreless in the final two quarters, not letting them any closer than the Clemson 38-yard line in the second half.

In overtime the Tigers took advantage of a pass interference penalty to score on their first possession, then stopped Miami at the 5-yard line. The game ended with Miami throwing three consecutive incompletions.

Miami took just five plays to go 68 yards for a touchdown on its opening series and then drove for a field goal on its second possession, but after that the Tigers pretty much controlled the game defensively.

The Hurricanes regained some control near the end of the half by mounting a 67-yard drive for a touchdown with just 19 seconds left to post a 17-3 halftime advantage.

"We had captured the momentum," said coach Tommy Bowden, who had warned his players that the Hurricanes would come out strong early, "but we kind of lost it there."

The second-half figures were somewhat staggering.

After giving up 103 yards rushing to the Hurricanes in the first two quarters, the Tigers held them to minus-2 in the last two.

Offensively, RB Reggie Merriweather got 89 of his 114 yards rushing in the second half and scored all three of the Clemson touchdowns.

"That's big because it opens up some of the passing game," Bowden said of Merriweather's contribution. "We haven't been able to do some of that in the past."

Bowden made one key decision that sent a strong signal that the Tigers were for real. With a fourth-and-2 at the Miami 9-yard line and the score 17-10 Miami, he sent PK Jad Dean onto the field for what looked to be a field goal attempt. Instead, Dean took a pitch from holder Cole Chason and raced around right end for a first down, and a facemask penalty put the Tigers at the 1-yard line. Merriweather scored on the next play.

Though a big play, the fake was one of the easier calls Bowden made.

"None," he said when asked if there had been any debate on the sideline. "I knew I was doing it. There was no debate."

The Tigers hit the road Saturday at Duke before finishing their season at home Nov. 20 against South Carolina. With wins in those two games plus a bowl victory, the Tigers could finish with eight victories after their 1-4 start.

"It hasn't happened yet," QB Charlie Whitehurst said. "It looks like we got a chance, and we've built the foundation. We've built something good here and I hope we can keep it going."

Looking Good: The passing game produced 258 yards on QB Charlie Whitehurst's 21-for-37 night. The Tigers gave up only two sacks, and Whitehurst threw only one interception.

Still Needs Work: The running game showed signs of life behind the TB Reggie Merriweather, but although he ran for 114 yards, the rest of the Tigers were a combined minus-1 for the night.

Roster Report: DE Mo Fountain kept alive his streak of playing in 47 consecutive game, including 17 consecutive starts. The senior hasn't missed a game in his career and could join former OT Gregory Walker in the record book by playing in 50 games if the Tigers reach a bowl and he stays healthy.

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