10 Worst Moments of Bowden era

When going back through and looking at some of the games on this list and some of the ones that did not make it, it is amazing former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden survived at Clemson as long as he did.

From his embarrassing 54-7 loss to Florida State in 2000, to the 55-15 shellacking at the hands of Texas Tech in the 2002 Tangerine Bowl, to this year's Maryland game, Bowden's teams always had those one or two games a year that left Clemson fans mad and frustrated.

Yes, Bowden did a lot of good things at Clemson and yes, he won a lot of ball games, but in the end, it was the constant rollercoaster ride he put the fan base on every week that did him in.

Below are the 10 best, or worst if you want to say, examples of Bowden's inconsistency at Clemson and why he never was able to bring home an ACC Championship.

Bowden Bowl I
October 23, 1999
No one knew it at the time, but Bowden Bowl I was a sign of things to come under Tommy Bowden for the Clemson football program. This was the first came in which a Bowden team showed promise, only to disappoint themselves and their fan base with its signature – one play away theme. In the first meeting of father vs. son in college football history, top-ranked Florida State rallied from a 14-3 deficit to beat the Tigers 17-14 in front of a record crowd of more than 86,000. Clemson had a chance to tie the eventual national champions and force overtime, but Tony Lazzara's 41-yard field goal attempt with 1:57 left, was tipped by FSU's Tay Cody.

Georgia Tech spoils things
October 28, 2000
This was the first game of many in which a Bowden coached team played down to its competition in the most inopportune time. Bowden's career at Clemson was always marred by the fact his teams always found a way to lose to unranked teams when they were a ranked team at home. On this night in late October, Rod Gardner's diving catch in the back of the end zone with 1:52 to play gave No. 3 Clemson a brief 28-24 lead. However, the defense failed to stop Georgia Tech on its next possession – sound familiar – as the Yellow Jackets drove 80 yards on 11 plays, with Kerry Watkins' one-handed, 16-yard touchdown catch with less than 10 seconds remaining for a 31-28 victory. Watkins' catch marked the third lead change in the last seven minutes. Tech quarterback George Godsey set a Georgia Tech record with 454 yards passing. He went 35-for-57 and had three touchdowns as Clemson gave up its most yardage ever through the air. But that record only stood for one week.

Ambushed in Tallahassee
November 4, 2000
Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden handed his son his worst loss at Clemson with a 54-7 thumbing in Tallahassee. Chris Weinke threw for 521 yards, and Bowden kept his starters on the field well into the fourth quarter, as No. 4 Florida State beat No. 10 Clemson 54-7 in Bowden Bowl II.

This game was nothing like the, 17-14, victory Florida State had to fight for in Death Valley the year before. The Seminoles finished with 771 yards, the most ever allowed by Clemson.

Cavaliers stun 19th-ranked Clemson at home
September 22, 2001
Using a little deception, Virginia quarterback Bryson Spinner found wide receiver Billy McMullen in the corner of the end zone with one second left on the clock as the Cavaliers stunned a sellout crowd in Death Valley with a dramatic 26-24 victory.

With the final seconds ticking away, Spinner rushed his offense up to the line and acted as if he was going to spike the ball to stop the clock; instead he faked the spike and lofted a perfectly thrown fade to the end zone where McMullen out-muscled Clemson cornerback Brian Mance for the ball. With no timeouts, the Cavaliers drove 44 yards in 1:43 to win the game.

Tar Heels, Peppers dominate Clemson on Homecoming
October 20, 2001
Tommy Bowden and his honeymoon period with Clemson fans was over following a 38-3 home loss to unranked North Carolina. The Tigers were ranked 13th at the time.

Defensive end and future Carolina Panther Julius Peppers and the rest of the North Carolina defense held Heisman Trophy candidate Woodrow Dantzler to 118 yards to spoil Homecoming for the Clemson faithful.

Before the North Carolina debacle, Dantzler accounted for 935 yards and 10 touchdowns in Clemson victories at No. 9 Georgia Tech and North Carolina State the previous two games.

Georgia embarrasses Clemson on national television
Aug. 30, 2003
Georgia's David Greene accounted for two touchdowns, while backup quarterback D.J. Shockley ran for another as Georgia handed Clemson and coach Tommy Bowden his first and only shutout in his Clemson career. The Bulldogs beat the Tigers 30-0 on a hot and muggy afternoon in Death Valley.

Greene went 12-of-17 for 203 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown pass to Fred Gibson. Greene added a 3-yard touchdown run and Shockley closed the scoring with a 29-yard scoring run.

‘Fire Tommy' made its debut in loss to Wake Forest
November 1, 2003
The thousands of Clemson fans that made the trip to Winston-Salem chanted "Fire Tommy" over and over as Wake Forest routed Clemson 45-17. Demon Deacon running back Chris Barclay tied his career-high with 163 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while Eric King returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown and Jyles Tucker returned a fumble 12 yards for another score to help the Demon Deacons snap their four-game losing streak to Clemson.

The 45 points are still Wake Forest's highest scoring output against Clemson. The Deacons finished the afternoon with 321 yards rushing.

The Loss to Duke
November 13, 2004
After one of the biggest wins in school history at No. 10 Miami, Clemson followed it with one of its worst losses when placekicker Matt Brooks booted a career-long 53-yard field goal as time expired to give Duke an amazing and extremely improbable 16-13 victory. It would the only ACC win for head coach Ted Roof during his tenure as head coach of the Blue Devils. Need we say more?

The beginning of the end for Tommy Bowden
October 26, 2006
Clemson rolled in to Blacksburg with a six-game winning streak and fresh off a 31-7 beatdown of then No. 13 Georgia Tech the week before. The Tigers were ranked No. 10 and were the dark horse at making a run at a national championship. Virginia Tech, however, had other ideas. Behind the running of Brandon Ore and a defense that shut the Clemson offense down, the unranked Hokies rolled to a 24-7 win on Thursday night primetime.

Clemson never recovered from the loss and really never did Bowden's reputation has a coach who could not win the big games win it mattered the most. The Tigers season spun out of control from there, ending the year with four losses in their final five games, including an humiliating loss to Kentucky in the Music City Bowl.

The Terps bring Tommy down
September 27, 2008
With his team up 17-6 at the break, Bowden gave his best motivational speech of the season. His team came out of the locker room on fire and ready to finish Maryland off, and then the Tigers just shut it down. After totaling 260 yards in the opening half, including 195 on the ground, Clemson managed just 112 total second half yards, while the defense yielded two touchdowns as unranked Maryland rallied for a stunning 20-17 victory in Death Valley.

With expectations sky high and as the preseason favorite to roll though the ACC, the loss turned up the heat on Bowden and offensive coordinator Rob Spence, and after a second straight lackluster effort at Wake Forest the following Thursday, Bowden decided it was best for the program that he step down, while interim head coach Dabo Swinney fired Spence an hour after Bowden resigned.

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