Bowden Bowl VII
Father will meet son for the seventh time in NCAA Division I college football history on Saturday afternoon at noon. All seven have been matchups between Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden and Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden. Father Bowden has a 5-1 advantage in the previous Bowden Bowl matchups, but Tommy won the last meeting held at Clemson in 2003. That was a landmark victory for Tommy and the Clemson program. The Tigers defeated a third-ranked Florida State team that entered the game with an 8-1 record by a 26-10 margin. It was Clemson's first win over the Seminoles since Florida State joined the ACC in 1992 and it was also the highest ranked team Clemson has defeated in its history.
The setting is different as far as the mindset of the two teams entering today's game. In 2003, Clemson was coming off a 28-point defeat at Wake Forest, a team that had a losing record entering that game. Florida State was coming off a 38-0 win at Notre Dame. This year, Clemson comes in off a 29-point win over Duke and Florida State is coming off a home loss to an NC State team that had a losing record entering the game.
This will be the fourth Bowden Bowl held at Death Valley. Florida State has a 2-1 advantage in the previous three at Clemson, but all three games have been close. Clemson won in 2003 and FSU had the aforementioned three-point win in 1999. Florida State won 41-27 in a high scoring game in 2001. The combined scores of the three Bowden Bowls at Clemson have been FSU 68 and Clemson 67.
Bowden Bowl Game Summaries
1999--The first meeting in 1999 was a festive atmosphere at Clemson as a record 86,092 fans attended, a Death Valley record that still stands today. In addition to the hype concerning a father coaching against a son for the first time, Bobby Bowden was going for career victory number-300. He got it, but it was a struggle, as the Tigers fought the Seminoles to the wire before #1 ranked Florida State came away with a 17-14 victory. It was the closest victory for the Seminoles on the way to the 1999 National Championship. Clemson had two offensive touchdowns to Florida State's one and Florida State's 17 points were the fewest scored by the Seminoles that year. Clemson drove to the FSU 25 with two minutes left, but a 41-yard field goal attempt by Tony Lazzara was tipped at the line of scrimmage. FSU rank out the clock from there.
2000--Florida State won the second meeting in 2000 in Tallahassee by a 54-7 count. Clemson entered the game with an 8-1 record and #10 national ranking, while Florida State was ranked fourth in the nation. It was just the third meeting of top 10 ACC teams in league history. Clemson was coming off a heart-breaking 31-28 loss to Georgia Tech the previous week, a game that Georgia Tech had won with a touchdown pass with just seven seconds left. Florida State gained 771 yards of total offense, most ever against a Clemson team, including 521 passing, also a high against a Clemson team.
2001-- In a game at Death Valley, Clemson gained 463 yards of total offense against Florida State, its high total ever against the Seminoles, but still lost 41-27. The Tigers could not stop freshman quarterback Chris Rix and the Florida State passing game as the Seminoles threw for 369 yards and gained 557 overall. Woody Dantzler had 336 yards of total offense, but it was not enough as the Seminoles won for the sixth straight time in Death Valley.
2002--Florida State came away with a 48-31 victory in the highest scoring Bowden Bowl. It was the most points scored by Clemson in Tallahassee since its last victory in 1989. Clemson won the total offense war 441-386, as Willie Simmons had a career high 343 yards rushing and passing, the most total offense in history by a Clemson player against the Seminoles. J.J. McKelvey had five catches for 117 yards to key the Clemson offense. But, Florida State scored on a 97-yard kickoff return by Leon Washington and Greg Jones rushed for 165 yards and three scores to give Florida State its victory. Clemson did successfully execute an on-side kick, still the only successful on-side kick by the Tigers since 1979.
2003--Clemson finally defeated Bobby Bowden in Death Valley with a convincing 26-10 victory. It was just the second of what would be three losses for the Seminole in the 2003 season. Florida State was ranked third in the nation entering the game and it was the highest ranked team Clemson has beaten in history. Charlie Whitehurst threw for 272 yards to lead Clemson as Bobby Bowden suffered a loss on his birthday for the first time ever. It was the first loss for Bobby Bowden in Death Valley after six straight wins, the longest winning streak for any opposing coach in the facility.
2004-Justin Miller set an NCAA record for kickoff return yards with 282, but the eighth ranked Seminoles downed the Tigers 41-22. Clemson had five turnovers on offense and gained just 173 yards of total offense. The Seminoles had 33 more plays than Clemson. It was 24-22 with four minutes left in the third when FSU scored the last 17 points of the game. Leon Washington scored on a 35-yard run in the third to put FSU back up by nine points.
The Clemson vs. Florida State games the last six years are not the only times Bowdens have been on opposite sides of the field. In 1991, Auburn, with assistant coach Tommy Bowden, faced Southern Mississippi, with assistant coach Jeff Bowden. Southern Mississippi upset Auburn that day. Jeff Bowden will also be at the scene this year also as he is Florida State's offensive coordinator.
· Tommy Bowden has coached 104 games as a Division I head coach and he has won 67 times. Through 104 games as a Division I head coach at West Virginia and Florida State, Bobby Bowden had the exact same 67-37 record.
· Florida State's record the two years prior to Bobby Bowden's arrival was 4-18. Tulane's record the two years prior to Tommy Bowden's arrival was 4-18.
·Bobby Bowden had Florida State in a bowl games and a top 15 final national ranking in his second year with the program. Tommy Bowden had Tulane and Clemson in a bowl game and a top 15 national ranking in his second year with each program.
· This is Bobby Bowden's 53rd season in coaching, his 30th as a head coach. This is Tommy Bowden's 28th year in coaching (graduate assistant, full time assistant or head coach) and his ninth as a head coach.
· Both Bowden's had perfect seasons as head coaches in the 1990s. Bobby had an 11-0 season at Florida State in 1999 after Tommy had a perfect 11-0 regular season as head coach at Tulane.
Clemson-Florida State Series
Florida State holds a 15-3 advantage in the series with Clemson dating to a 38-13 Florida State win in Tallahassee in 1970. Clemson has three wins in the series, but two took place in Tallahassee, in 1976 by a 15-12 score and in 1989 by a 34-23 score. Clemson's only win in Death Valley took place in 2003, a 26-10 victory.
Florida State is 7-1 at Clemson and 8-2 at Florida State against the Tigers. Florida State had won 11 in a row prior to 2003 and all 11 had taken place since Florida State joined the ACC in 1992. Florida State has been ranked in the top 20 in the nation heading into all 14 games in the series since the Seminoles joined the ACC (including this year) . Clemson, Virginia (twice), NC State (four times), Miami (FL), Maryland and North Carolina are the only league schools to beat Florida State since they joined the league for the 1992 season, a total of 10 losses.
Clemson's 2005 Senior Class will attempt to be the first ACC class to beat Florida State twice on the school's home turf since the Seminoles joined the league. NC State beat them in consecutive years, once at Florida State and once NC State (2001-02).
In four straight meetings between 1988 and 1993 both Clemson and Florida State were ranked in the top 25. Both teams have been ranked in the top 25 of at least one poll in seven of the last 14 meetings, including 2001 when Clemson entered the game 24th in USA Today and Florida Sate was 14th in both polls. In 2000, in the game played in Tallahassee both were ranked in the top 10 of the AP, as Clemson was 10th and Florida State was fourth. That marked just the third time in ACC history that two league teams were ranked in the top 10 heading into a contest.
The three meetings between the two teams played between 1988 and 1992, were classics. In 1988, Florida State won at Clemson 24-21, thanks in part to the famous "puntrooskie play", a 78-yard run on a fake punt by Leroy Butler, and a 76-yard punt return by Deion Sanders, the only time a Chris Gardocki punt was returned for a touchdown in his Clemson career.
In 1989, Clemson defeated a Florida State team that ended the season ranked third in the final AP poll by a 34-23 score. That was the only loss by Florida State at home against a non-Florida team in a 17-year period. A pair of 73-yard plays were pivotal for Clemson in that game. The late Wayne Simmons ran 73 yards with an interception and Terry Allen ran 73 yards from scrimmage in the second period to give Clemson a 28-7 lead. Clemson was trying to run out the clock on Allen's run. Florida State scored in the last minute to close the gap to 11 points.
In 1992, before over 84,000 fans and a nationally televised audience at Clemson, fifth-ranked Florida State defeated 15th-ranked Clemson 24-20 in Death Valley. Florida State scored the winning TD in the final two minutes of the contest behind the passing of Charlie Ward. Clemson did pick off four passes in the game, including one that James Trapp returned for a touchdown. Trapp went on to play 10 years in the NFL and that play certainly made the NFL scouts take notice.
The 1997 game featured one of the greatest individual duals in the history of Death Valley. Tony Horne gained 267 all-purpose yards in the game, while Florida State's Peter Warrick had 372 for the Seminoles, including a 90-yard punt return and an 80-yard pass reception. Horne's all-purpose running total is the second highest in Clemson history, while Warrick's total is the most ever against Clemson.
The 1999 game was certainly a series highlight as it was the first father-son coaching matchup in NCAA history. Florida State claimed a 17-14 victory behind the passing of Chris Weinke and went on to win the national championship. It was the closest game the Seminoles had all season.
Last Year vs. Florida State
Florida State 41, Clemson 22
At Tallahassee, FL
Justin Miller's NCAA record 282 kickoff return yards were not enough to lift Clemson to a win in Bowden Bowl VI, as #8 Florida State beat the Tigers 41-22 in Tallahassee. Miller also tied an NCAA record by returning two kickoffs for touchdowns. After Xavier Beitia kicked a 29-yard field goal to give Florida State a 3-0 lead, Miller took the ensuing kickoff at his own three-yard line and raced untouched 97 yards for a touchdown.
After forcing a Florida State punt, the Tigers got the ball back and drove 61 yards to the Seminole 23-yard line. On a second-down play, Charlie Whitehurst was unable to handle the snap and Florida State recovered the fumble at its own 22-yard line. It was the first of five turnovers, while Florida State did not commit a turnover.
Whitehurst was sacked and then fumbled the ball deep inside Clemson territory. Florida State began the next drive at the Clemson nine, and on third down, B.J. Dean scored on a two-yard run. At this point, starting quarterback Chris Rix left the game with a leg injury, bringing Wyatt Sexton into the game. It did not take the Seminoles long to strike again, as Whitehurst was picked off by Leroy Smith on the next Tiger offensive snap. He returned it 41 yards for a touchdown. The quick turn of events gave Florida State 14 points in just 18 seconds.
The Tigers answered the Seminole scores on their next drive, as Whitehurst opened the series with a 23-yard run to the Florida State 27. On a third down play from the 12, Whitehurst found Curtis Baham wide open for a touchdown. Florida State took the second-half kickoff and scored on a Sexton to Chauncey Stovall 47-yard touchdown pass.The Clemson defense forced Florida State to a three-and-out, and C.J. Gaddis blocked Chris Hall's punt out of the endzone for a safety.
On the following free kick, Miller caught the ball on his own 14-yard line and again raced 86 yards untouched for his second kickoff return for a touchdown of the day. Whitehurst was stopped just shy of the endzone on the two-point conversion attempt, and the Seminoles held on to a 24-22 lead.
Late in the third quarter, Leon Washington broke through the Tiger defense and raced down the sideline for a 35-yard touchdown run. The Clemson offense could never get on track in the second half, and after another Chason punt, the Seminoles took over at their own 49. Florida State needed only one passing play on a scoring drive that covered 51 yards on 10 plays and chewed 4:42 off the clock. The drive culminated in a James Coleman one-yard run on fourth and goal.
Miller had 282 yards on his six kickoff returns, 34 more than any other player in NCAA history. Leroy Hill led the defense with 13 tackles and three tackles for loss.
Florida State's Last Trip to Clemson
Clemson 26, Florida State 10
November 8, 2003
Clemson ended 14 years of frustration by defeating #3 Florida State 26-10 in front of 79,826 fans in Death Valley. The win over the third-ranked Seminoles was the highest-ranked victory in Clemson history. It also marked the first time since 1989 that Clemson defeated Florida State. The victory came just one week after Clemson had suffered a 45-17 loss at Wake Forest.
Several landmarks occurred in the 16-point victory for Clemson. For coach Tommy Bowden, it was his first win in five tries against father Bobby.
Aaron Hunt became Clemson's all-time scoring leader with 302 points, breaking Nelson Welch's previous record of 301. Derrick Hamilton became the school's all-time all-purpose yardage leader with 4,412, breaking Travis Zachery's record. Charlie Whitehurst broke Woodrow Dantzler's single-season record for passing yards (2,682) with two regular season games remaining.
Clemson set the tone in the game's opening moments. On its first offensive possession, the Tigers moved 65 yards in 11 plays before Aaron Hunt connected on a 23-yard field goal.
On Florida State's ensuing possession, Tye Hill notched his second interception of the season when he stepped in front of a long Chris Rix pass. The Tigers tacked on Hunt's second field goal minutes later, giving Clemson a 6-0 lead.
Clemson got the ball back with less than three minutes to go in the first half. Whitehurst drove the Tigers from their own 35-yard line. The big play was a 51-yard hookup with Youngblood on third-and-10. Three plays later, Whitehurst rolled to the right and then scrambled back to the left for a one-yard touchdown run. His effort gave Clemson a 13-0 lead at halftime.
Florida State missed a field goal on its opening possession of the second half. Clemson took advantage by marching 63 yards in 11 plays. Hunt kicked his third field goal of the game from 32 yards away, giving Clemson a 16-0 cushion. The drive was set up by Whitehurst, who zipped a pass between three defenders as he was getting hit and found Curtis Baham for a 23-yard gain on third down.
The Seminoles responded with three points, as Xavier Beitia made a 46-yard field goal. However, Clemson put the game away on the next two drives. First, Whitehurst executed a pump-fake to the right before throwing left to a streaking Hamilton. His 58-yard touchdown catch gave Clemson a commanding 23-3 lead. Clemson kept the intensity up, as Leroy Hill intercepted a Rix pass four plays later.
On the next Seminole drive, David Dunham sacked Rix 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage and forced a fumble. It was recovered by DeJuan Polk of Clemson. Hunt came on to nail his fourth field goal of the night, giving Clemson the 26-3 lead. Florida State finally scored a touchdown in the final three minutes of the contest. Chauncey Stovall was able to get behind the Tiger secondary for a 71-yard touchdown, but it mattered little at that point of the game.
Whitehurst was outstanding in his first career start against Florida State. He finished 17-27 for 272 yards and one touchdown pass and he also rushed for 39 yards and a touchdown. His favorite target was Hamilton, who grabbed six balls for 123 yards and a touchdown.
Hunt came into the game needing 14 points to set the school scoring record, and he did just that. He was 4-4 on field goals and 2-2 on extra points.
Defensively, the Tigers held Florida State to 11 rushing yards the entire game, the fewest total by Florida State in the Bobby Bowden era. Leroy Hill had 10 tackles and was named ACC Lineman-of-the-Week. Clemson also blitzed more than normal, and the result was 15 quarterback hurries in the contest. Tye Hill played well for Clemson, as he grabbed his second career interception and also had another pass breakup in earning ACC Defensive Back-of-the-Week honors. Travis Pugh tied for the team lead in tackles with 10 from his free safety position.
Game's Winningest Coach Comes to Death Valley
College football's winningest coach is also the winningest opposing coach in the history of Death Valley. That is saying something since the facility dates to the 1942 season. Bobby Bowden has a 6-1 record in Clemson Memorial Stadium and the six wins are one more than Vince Dooley (5-4-1) had as the head coach at Georgia between 1964-89. Peahead Walker, Shug Jordan, Bill Dooley and Jerry Claiborne all had four wins over Clemson in the stadium.
This will be Bobby Bowden's eighth game against Clemson in Memorial Stadium. That is the fifth most games against the Tigers in Memorial Stadium. Bill Dooley and Lonnie McMillan coached against Clemson here 12 times apiece. Bill Dooley was 4-8 in his 12 games coached with three teams, as he brought North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest to challenge the Tigers. McMillan coached all 12 of his games while leading Presbyterian.
It was McMillan who actually gave Clemson Memorial Stadium the name "Death Valley." He called it that because he told the media he was going up to Clemson to open the season at "Death Valley", and he said his team was probably going to get killed. Coach Frank Howard started calling it that in the late 1940s and the name stuck. McMillan was 1-11 in his 12 games at Clemson.
Bobby Bowden has recorded two of his many landmark victories in Clemson Memorial Stadium. In 1997, in a game against a Tommy West coached Clemson team, Bowden won his 200th victory as Florida State head coach in a 35-28 Florida State win. Two years later he won his 300th game as a college coach with a 17-14 win at Clemson. Now, his son will be attempting a landmark win in his career against him. Tommy will be going for his 50th win at Clemson when the Seminoles come to Death Valley on Saturday.
Clemson-Florida State Connections
There are many connections between Clemson and Florida State in terms of coaching and administrative personnel:
* Clemson Assistant Head Coach and offensive line coach Brad Scott served as offensive coordinator of Florida State's National Championship team of 1993. He served as an assistant with the Florida State program from 1983-93, including the 1990-93 era when he was offensive coordinator. He has a master's degree from Florida State in athletic administration, a degree he earned in 1984. He was on the Florida State sideline in 1988 when the Seminoles executed the "Puntrooskie play".
* Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews served in the same capacity for Clemson between 1976-80 and held the assistant head coach title under Danny Ford in 1980.
* Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden was a graduate assistant at Florida State in 1978 and 1979, then served as tight ends coach of the Seminoles in 1981 and 1982.
* Clemson defensive backs coach Jack Hines was a graduate assistant at Florida State in 1985-86. He is married to Robyn Bowden, one of Bobby Bowden's daughters. Hines played for Bowden at West Virginia.
* Tommy Bowden's brother Jeff Bowden is the offensive coordinator for Florida State.
* Hootie Ingram, now retired and living in Alabama, was Clemson's head football coach from 1970-72, then served as Florida State's Athletic Director in the 1980s.
Florida State Update
Florida State has already clinched a berth in the ACC Championship game on December 3 in Jacksonville. The Seminoles have two ACC losses, but have clinched the tie breakers no matter who has a chance to finish in a tie with them. Florida State has led the ACC in passing most of the year and they average 309 yards per game , 60 more yards per game than second place Boston College. Drew Weatherford, a red-shirt freshman, leads the ACC in total offense with 258 yards per game, 25 more per game than second place Charlie Whitehurst of the Tigers. Weatherford also leads the ACC in passing yards per game with 258.1 and he has thrown for 15 touchdowns.
His favorite target is freshman Greg Carr, a 6-6 wide receiver who has 22 receptions for 470 yards and nine touchdowns. He has an ACC best 21.4 yards per reception and he will be a challenge for Clemson cornerback Tye Hill. Hill and the Clemson defense did an outstanding job on Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson two weeks ago, limiting Tech to 126 yards passing, including a season low 46 yards to Johnson. Chris Davis is also an outstanding pass catcher with 38 receptions for 525 yards.
Florida State has a strong defense, allowing 290 yards per game, third best in the ACC. They allow just 171 yards per game in the air, fourth best in the conference. The top tackler is A.J. Nicholson, a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, who has a team best 74 tackles in nine games. He had 13 stops, including three tackles for loss against NC State. Pat Wakins is a senior defender who has 52 tackles, while Erie Sims has added 48 stops. Kamerion Wimbley is third in the ACC in sacks with 7.5 and has 10.5 tackles for loss overall to rank seventh in the league.
One of the reserves on the Florida State offensive line is Dumaka Atkins, a freshman from Sarasota, FL. He will be the second member of his family to play against Clemson in Death Valley this year. His brother, Baraka Atkins, is a starting defensive lineman for the University of Miami. Baraka was credited with four tackles in Miami's triple overtime win at Clemson this year.
Clemson Offense Up Almost 100 Yards Per Game
Clemson has made a strong improvement in terms of offense this year. The Tigers have gone from 295.6 yards per game in 2004 to 394.3 yards per game so far in 2005. That is an improvement of 98.7 yards per game over last season, the eighth best total offense improvement in the nation, and the top improvement in the ACC . It might surprise some that Southern Cal is the most improved team in the nation in terms of total offense so far this year. The Trojans were obviously good in 2004 with a 449.1 average, but they have trumped that with an average of 593.6 yards per game so far this year.
Clemson has improved by 64 places in the national rankings in total offense over last year. Clemson is currently 46th after ranking 110th at the end of the 2004 season. A check to Clemson history shows that a 98.7- yard improvement would be the second biggest gain from one year to another on record. Clemson improved by 107.3 yards per game from 1994 to 1995 under offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen. Like Rob Spence, Christensen was in his first year at Clemson in 1995. He is now a quarterbacks coach in the NFL. Christensen and Spence coached together at Maryland in 1992 and 1993.
A look to the ACC stats for this year shows that Clemson is second in the league in total offense at 394.3 yards per game, fourth in rushing at 157.3 yards per game, and fourth in passing at 237.0 yards per game. The Tigers are the only ACC team to rank in the top four in the conference in rushing offense and passing offense. Passing efficiency has also made a dramatic improvement this year under offensive coordinator Rob Spence. Clemson has a 135.8 team efficiency rating so far this year, second best in the ACC. Clemson's team efficiency last year was just 96.0.
Clemson on Senior Day
This will be the final home game for Clemson's 20 seniors. Clemson has won seven straight Senior Day games tying for the longest streak of wins on this special day in Clemson history. Clemson's last loss on Senior Day was in 1997 to a 10th ranked North Carolina team by a 17-10 score.
Tommy Bowden is 6-0 on Senior Day games as Clemson's head coach and is 7-1 in his career as a head coach. His only Senior Day loss was to Mississippi during his first year at Tulane.
Last year's Clemson victory on Senior Day tied the record of seven set between 1957-63. South Carolina ended that streak with a victory in 1964 at Clemson. Overall, Clemson is 68-33-3 on Senior Day over the years. Five seasons Clemson has not had a home game and thus didn't have a Senior Day.
Here are some of the highlights for this 2005 Senior Class:
· Has already recorded five wins over top 25 teams, including a season opening win over 17th ranked Texas A&M. Florida State is also ranked 17th entering this game so it would put symmetry to the senior's final year with bookend wins over 17th ranked teams.
· A sixth win over a top 25 team would give this senior group the most wins over ranked teams as a class since the 1994 seniors had seven top 25 wins.
· Has three wins over top 10 teams in a 2003 win over #3 Florida State, 2004 Peach Bowl over #6 Tennessee and a 2004 win at 10th ranked Miami (FL). The seniors of 2004 are the only other class with three wins over top 10 teams since the seniors of 1984.
· Has been bowl eligible each of their first three seasons and will have two chances to reach that accomplishment in the remaining games. Clemson has an overall record of 27-19 with this class and has been at least .500 in the ACC in each season. Clemson needs to defeat Florida State to be .500 in the ACC again this year.
· Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst has led the Tigers to 22 victories in the last four years, tied for third best in Clemson history with all-time great Homer Jordan. He has established 40 records during his Clemson career, including career marks for passing yardage, total offense, touchdown passes and completions.
· Has a 3-0 record against South Carolina so far in their careers and will strive to be the first Clemson senior class to have a 4-0 record against Clemson's state rival since the seniors of 2000.
· Has finished each of the last two years by winning five of its last six games. They have a chance to do it for the third consecutive year.
Using Proctor No Gamble
Will Proctor made his first career start in the win over Duke last Saturday. The native of Orlando was in for Charlie Whitehurst, who has battled a sore shoulder the second half of the season. It was the first game Whitehurst has missed since the 2002 season, the first start he has missed since the 2002 NC State game. Whitehurst had started a Clemson record 37 consecutive games at quarterback prior to the Duke game. Ironically, his streak started at Duke in 2002 as a freshman.
Proctor had a strong opening start. The junior connected on 13 of 21 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He connected on touchdown passes of 40 and 11 yards to Chansi Stuckey, the first two touchdown receptions of Stuckey's career. Proctor had thrown just 13 career passes prior to the Duke game. He is now 18-31 for 281 yards and three touchdowns without an interception for this season. That computes to a 166.1 passing efficiency rating.
Proctor came off the bench to help Clemson to a 25-24 win over Texas A&M to start the season. Whitehurst had some dizziness after a hit in the fourth quarter and it was Proctor who came on and quarterbacked the Tigers on the final drive to the game winning field goal. He has appeared in three games at quarterback this year, all victories.
Clemson Records Another 200-200 Game
Most teams strive for offensive balance because an ability to rush and throw the ball with effectiveness usually translates to a victory. That has been the case in Clemson history. A look to the records shows that Clemson has never lost a game in which it has had at least 200 yards passing and 200 yards rushing on offense.
That pattern continued in the victory over Duke as Clemson rushed for 234 yards and passed for 216, giving Clemson 450 total. It was the second time this year Clemson has had at least 200 of each. In the win at NC State, the Tigers had 243 yards rushing and 246 yards passing in the 31-10 victory.
Overall, Clemson has now had 18 games in which it has had at least 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing under Tommy Bowden. Clemson is now 44-0-1 when it has at least 200 yards of each category, including 37 consecutive wins dating to 1976. The only time Clemson has failed to gain victory when it had at least 200 rushing and 200 passing took place in a 24-24 tie with Georgia Tech in 1976.
A 200-yard rushing game by itself is usually a good indicator of victory for Clemson. The Tigers are 2-0 this year and 22-1 under Tommy Bowden when they rush for at least 200 yards. The lone loss took place in 1999, his first season, when Clemson rushed for 231 yards at Georgia Tech, but lost 45-42. Clemson has won 19 consecutive games over six years when it rushes for at least 200 yards.
Merriweather, Davis a Strong Combo
Reggie Merriweather and James Davis are developing into a strong one-two punch. Both are ranked in the top seven in the ACC in rushing, as Merriweather is fifth with 73.2 yards per game and Davis is seventh at 64.9 yards per game. Clemson is the only team in the ACC with two of the top seven rushers in the league.
The duo combined for 189 yards in 26 attempts against Duke, a 7.3 average. It was the second highest single game performance for them as a duo, as they had 190 yards in the win at NC State. One or the other has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of the last four games. Merriweather had 104 yards in 18 attempts and scored three touchdowns in the win over Duke, while Davis added 85 yards in eight attempts and a touchdown against the Blue Devils.
Merriweather now leads the team in touchdowns with seven and has now scored 17 touchdowns in his last 15 games. The performance against Duke marked the third time in the last 15 games he has scored three in a game. He also did it against Miami (FL) and South Carolina last year.
Merriweather has 659 yards so far this year and a 5.3 average to go with seven touchdowns. The native of North Augusta, SC needs just 11 yards rushing to reach his total of last year when he led the Tigers with 670 yards. He has had at least 100 yards rushing in each of the last three games, the first Clemson running back to have at least three consecutive 100-yard games since 1996 when Raymond Priester had at least 100 yards in each of the last four games that year.
Davis has 519 rushing yards, the most by a Clemson freshman since Travis Zachery had 635 in 1998. Zachery was a red-shirt freshman that year. Davis's total is the most by a first-year freshman since Ronald Williams had 941 in 1990.
Both players are over 500 yards for the season already. This is the first time two different Clemson players have rushed for at least 500 yards in the same season since 2003 when Duane Coleman had 615 and Chad Jasmin had 523. Clemson has not had a pair of 600-yard running backs since 1989 when Joe Henderson had 848 and Terry Allen had 613. It should be noted that Woody Dantzler and Travis Zachery both rushed for over 1000 yards in 2000, but Dantzler was a quarterback.
For the season, Merriweather and Davis have combined for 1178 yards on 217 attempts, a 5.4 average, and 12 rushing touchdowns. The have 21 pass receptions between them for an additional 122 yards.
Tigers From Florida
Clemson has 17 players on its roster from the state of Florida. That list includes starters Jamaal Fudge and Bobby Williamson, and Will Proctor, who started the Duke game at quarterback. This will obviously be a special day for seniors David Dunham, Jamaal Fudge, Stephen Furr, Cliff Harrell and Bobby Williamson who are all seniors from the state of Florida. This will be their final home game in a Clemson uniform. Clemson has had victories over schools from the state of Florida each of the last two years. Clemson defeated Florida State in 2003 and won at Miami (FL) in 2004.
Stuckey Leads ACC in Receptions
Chansi Stuckey had another strong game against Duke and continues to lead the ACC in receptions per game with 5.22 per contest. He has a slim lead over Calvin Johnson of Georgia Tech. Stuckey had a breakout game against the Blue Devils with five receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns. That's right two touchdowns! Those were the first two touchdown receptions of Stuckey's career and they came on consecutive Clemson pass plays over the second and third periods. He scored on an 11-yard catch from Will Proctor with seven seconds left in the first half, then scored on a 40-yard reception on Clemson's first drive of the second half.
Stuckey had 71 receptions to open his career without a touchdown catch, then had scoring receptions on catches 72 and 73. Stuckey enters the Florida State game with 47 receptions for 579 yards. He is first in the ACC in receptions per game and fourth in reception yards per game with a 64.3 average. He is attempting to give Clemson consecutive ACC reception leaders. Airese Currie, now with the Chicago Bears, led the ACC in receptions last year when he had 61 in 11 games.
Stuckey has been more than just a pass catcher for the Tigers. He is the team's leader in punt returns and ranks seventh in the ACC in that category with 8.2 yards per return. His 47-yard punt return for a score against Texas A&M was Clemson's only touchdown in that Tiger victory. He is Clemson's leader in all-purpose running with an average of 93 yards per game, eighth in the ACC. He had a 159-yard performance against Duke has he had yardage in rushing, receiving, punt returns and kickoff returns.
Stuckey had eight catches for 89 yards at Georgia Tech (including 49 yards after the catch), so he has had consecutive outstanding games. Earlier he had 103-yard receiving game against NC State on eight receptions. Over two years he has at least one catch in 18 straight games that he has played. He missed two games last year due to injury. Stuckey's 5.22 receptions per game would be fifth best in Clemson history if the season ended today. The record is 6.75 catches per game by Rod Gardner in 1999, a year in which he had a school record 80 receptions.
Stuckey Joins Exclusive Club
Clemson Chansi Stuckey became just the third player in Clemson history to account for a touchdown through four different means when he caught a pair in the win over duke. He threw two touchdown passes as a freshman quarterback at Wake Forest in 2003, then ran for a touchdown as a reserve quarterback at South Carolina in 2003. He scored a touchdown on a punt return against Texas A&M in 2005.
The other two Tigers to account for touchdowns four different ways are Bobby Gage and Ray Mathews. Both did it four different ways in the same season. Gage scored on a run, pass, reception and kickoff return in 1947, while Mathews scored on a run, pass, reception and punt return in 1948.
Clemson Has Played Six Nail Biters
Clemson's season of close games this year continued at Georgia Tech on October 29. The Yellow Jackets won by a 10-9 score. Clemson had the ball in Georgia Tech territory with under three minutes left, but could not convert a fourth-and eight play.
Over the last 15 games, Clemson has a 10-5 record. All five of the losses have been by six points or less. Clemson has lost four games this year by a total of 14 points. That list includes two overtime games, so the point difference in regulation in those four losses this year is just five points.
This is the longest stretch without a loss by more than six points since the 1986-87 era when Clemson went 15 consecutive games without a loss by at least seven points. That streak started with a 28-20 win at Wake Forest on November 1, 1986 and ended when South Carolina defeated the Tigers 20-7 in Columbia on November 21, 1987. Over the last 15 games the only blemishes on Clemson's record have been a 16-13 loss at Duke, a 36-30 triple overtime loss to Miami (FL), a 16-13 overtime loss to Boston College, a 31-27 loss to Wake Forest, and the 10-9 loss to Georgia Tech. Four of those five losses the winning opponent points were scored within the last 33 seconds of the game.
Clemson's first five games of the 2005 season were decided with offensive or defensive plays within the last minute of play. That includes four of the five that were decided within the last two seconds, four on the last play of the game. Clemson and Navy were the only schools in the nation to have each of their first five games decided by seven points or less.
As far as Clemson history is concerned, this was the first time since 1906 that Clemson played five consecutive games in the same season that were decided by seven points or less. That year Clemson had three scoreless ties (Virginia Tech, NC State and Davidson), had a 6-0 win over Georgia and a 6-4 win over Auburn, to start the season. The streak was broken at NC State when Clemson came away with a 31-10 victory.
Tigers Have Just Nine Turnovers and 46 Penalties
Clemson lost four turnovers and committed eight penalties in the 10-9 loss to Georgia Tech on October 29. Those mistakes contributed to the loss, but certainly were the exception for this 2005 Clemson team. The Tigers lost three fumbles in the first half after going 499 consecutive offensive plays without a fumble. Clemson was the last team in the nation to lose a fumble after going the first seven games without losing. Reggie Merriweather broke string with a lost fumble on a play that was first called down, but later changed to a lost fumble by instant replay. It was Merriweather's first lost fumble as a Tiger on his 238th career carry.
While Clemson made mistakes against Tech, the Tigers are still ranked high nationally in terms of not committing turnovers or penalties. Clemson has lost nine turnovers for the season (none in the 49-20 win over Duke) on three lost fumbles and six interceptions, tied for the fourth fewest turnovers in the nation. Only Central Michigan (6), UCLA (7) and UAB (8) have fewer turnovers on offense thatn Clmeosn this year.
With three lost fumbles, Clemson is tied for third in the nation in fewest fumbles lost. Rutgers and UAB have both lost two fumbles so far this year. Clemson is one of six teams with three lost fumbles. The Tigers are also 12th in the nation in fewest penalties committed with 46 in nine games.
Whitehurst Needs 163 Yards for Third 2000-yard Season
Charlie Whitehurst needs just 163 yards passing to reach the 2000-yard passing mark for the third time in his career. When he does he will own three of the top five 2000-yard passing seasons in Clemson history. Whitehurst owns the Clemson record with 3561 yards during Clemson's 13-game schedule in 2003. He had 2067 last year, which is the fourth most passing yards in a season. Woody Dantzler and Nealon Greene are the only other Clemson quarterbacks with a 2000-yard passing season.
Whitehurst ranks sixth in ACC history in passing yards, but will move into the top five with his next completion. Spence Fisher, ironically a Duke quarterback (1992-95) is just two yards ahead of Whitehurst.
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