No. 10 – 1951 Orange Bowl
DATE: January 1, 1951
SCORE: No. 10 Clemson 15, No. 15 Miami 14
GAME SUMMARY: Second-team defensive guard Sterling Smith made perhaps the greatest tackle of his career when he tripped Miami running back Frank Smith in the back of the end zone for a safety, providing the Tigers' winning points in a 15-14 victory.
Sterling Smith's safety came with Clemson down 14-13 and the Hurricanes pinned down on their one-yard line late in the fourth quarter. The safety was setup after Harry Mallios 80-yard punt return was called back due to two clipping penalties.
Clemson's Don Wade sealed the victory with his second interception of the day on Miami's last possession. Fred Cone led the Tigers with 81 yards and a touchdown, while Ray Matthews scored on a 31-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Billy Hair.
Clemson finished the season 9-0-1 and ranked 10th in the country by the Associated Press.
Why was this win important? The win allowed the Tigers to go undefeated for the second time in three years, and because of who they beat, it truly introduced them to the college football world.
No. 9 – 1991 Hall of Fame Bowl
DATE: January 1, 1991
SCORE: No. 14 Clemson 30, No. 18 Illinois 0
GAME SUMMARY: Boasting the nation's No. 1 ranked defense, the Clemson Tigers dominated every phase of the Hall of Fame Bowl, while recording their first shutout in a bowl game, 30-0, over Illinois. It was the defense's third shutout of the 1990 season.
The Big 10-school never had a shot as the Clemson defense held them to 244 yards of offense, while Arlington Nunn returned a second quarter interception 34 yards to give the Tigers a 24-0 halftime lead. Nunn's interception was his third interception return for a score that year – a Clemson record. Chris Gardocki added field goals of 26 and 43 yards as Clemson finished the season 10-2 for the fourth straight year and ranked No. 9 in all three polls.
The 30-point victory is still the Tigers largest margin of victory in a bowl game.
Why was this win important? Clemson coach Ken Hatfield became the first ACC coach to take his first team to a Top 10 ranking. It also marked an ACC record 40th win for Clemson's senior class.
No. 8 – 1989 Gator Bowl
DATE: December 30, 1989
SCORE: No. 14 Clemson 27, No. 17 West Virginia 7
GAME SUMMARY: West Virginia quarterback Major Harris might have been a Heisman Trophy finalist, but on this evening in Jacksonville, Fla. he was just another quarterback to the Clemson Tigers. The Clemson defense sacked, pressured and harassed the Mountaineer quarterback to three fumbles and an interception.
The most memorable play came midway through the fourth quarter, when defensive tackle Chester McGlockton stripped Harris of the football and then fell on the loose football in the end zone for a Clemson touchdown.
McGlockton's touchdown was part of a 17-0 Clemson fourth quarter to blow open what was a close 10-7 ballgame entering the final quarter. After guiding the Mountaineers on a 90-yard scoring drive to start the game, Harris and the West Virginia offense had just 147 yards the rest of the night.
The win gave the Clemson senior class the ACC record for wins with 38 and the first Clemson class to record four straight bowl wins. The Tigers finished the season 10-2 and ranked No. 11 in the AP poll, and 12th in both the Coaches and the USA Today polls.
Why was this win important? Though no one knew it at the time, this was the last game Danny Ford coached at Clemson. He finished his Clemson career with a 96-29-4 record.
No. 7 – 1988 Citrus Bowl
DATE: January 1, 1988
SCORE: No. 14 Clemson 35, No. 20 Penn State 10
GAME SUMMARY: This is still perhaps the most solid performance by a Clemson team in a bowl game to date. The Tigers outgained Penn State 499 to 301, forced two interceptions and got 214 passing yards from Rodney Williams, who completed 15-of-24 passes. Fullback Tracy Johnson had three rushing touchdowns, while tailback Terry Allen added a 25-yard score to go with his 105-yard afternoon.
The defense, however, provided the most memorable part of the game, when linebacker Dorian Mariable intercepted a Penn State pass in the end zone and returned it 46 yards in the third quarter. Mariable was named the defensive MVP of the game, while Williams was named the offensive MVP.
Clemson finished the year 10-2 and ranked No. 10 in the Coaches Poll, 11th in the USA Today top 25 and 12th by the Associated Press.
Why was this win important? This was, and still is, the worst bowl defeat for Penn State and its head coach Joe Paterno.
No. 6 – 1940 Cotton Bowl
DATE: January 1, 1940
SCORE: No. 12 Clemson 6, No. 11 Boston College 3
GAME SUMMARY: Clemson got its first bowl victory in its first bowl game as All-American Banks McFadden averaged 44 yards on 11 punts to effectively bottle up the Boston College offense. He record punts of 55 and 51 yards in the second half.
Charlie Timmons led the Clemson offense with a game-high 115 yards on 27 carries, including a second quarter touchdown that proved to be the difference in a 6-3 victory. With the win Clemson finished the 1939 season with a 9-1 record and a No. 12 national ranking.
Why was this win important? This was Clemson's first bowl victory – marking the first significant win from a national perspective in the program's history.
PART I: Clemson's Top 10 Bowl Wins
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