campaign in Coach Frank Howard's 12th year. A 3-1-0 conference mark was good for 5th place in the SoCon, and the Tigers won 7 games overall, compiling a 7-3-0 record. SoCon Champion was undefeated and No. 3 ranked Maryland (5-0-0, 10-0-0.)
For some long forgotten reason, some college conferences played a nine game regular season, while others played a ten game regular season in 1951.
Clemson once again started the season with what had become an annual tradition that Presbyterian didn't like much, as the Tigers once again drubbed the Blue Hose 53-6.
Then, the Tigers ventured out west once again out to Rice to see old coach Jess Neely. This time Coach Howard has his boys ready, as Clemson took a well earned 20-14 victory.
The Tigers had now garnered some national respect, going into the Textile Bowl with NC State as the No. 18 team in the land. The Tigers emerged with a hard won 6-0 decision in Raleigh.
Now up to No. 16, Clemson hit the road all the way to the west coast, to face No. 20 Pacific. The west coast offense must have been too much, as Pacific took down the Tigers 21-7, knocking us out of the rankings.
More misery was in store in Columbia, SC, as the Yardbirds took a 20-0 victory out of Big Thursday. Clemson now leads the series 29-17-3.
But, following that game, the Tigers righted the ship, finishing out the regular season on a 4 game winning streak. The last of these was a very satisfying 34-0 romp over Auburn in Death Valley. This earned the Tigers an unusual rematch in a Bowl game against the Miami Hurricanes. This time it would be in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville. OR WOULD IT? (Note: at this time in college football, there were only 8 post season bowl games, so getting invited to one was a relatively big deal.)
The Southern Conference was undergoing a power struggle during this time. There was an ever increasing gap between the “Have's” and “Have Not's” in the SoCon, and college football in general. The SoCon was predominately made up of smaller schools, who did not like sitting home while the North Carolinas, Clemsons, and Marylands of the world had a fine time at bowl games. By SoCon bylaws, a majority of the school presidents had to vote to allow any school to participate in a bowl game. But in 1951, over two thirds of them voted to BAN participation in bowl games by any SoCon teams.
Two conference teams, Clemson and Maryland, had gotten bowl invites, and decided to defy the conference ban and go bowling anyway. This would be the beginning of the end of the Southern Conference as it had been known.
But, for Clemson, in 1951, on to the Gator Bowl! Miami obviously had revenge on their minds from the way they had lost the previous year's Orange Bowl to the Tigers. They accomplished the revenge tour, winning the Gator Bowl by a 14-0 score. But, even with this loss, Clemson finished the season back in the Top 20, at No. 19. All results below.
Presbyterian W 53–6 At Rice W 20–14 At NC State W 6-0 At No. 20 Pacific L 7–21 At South Carolina (Big Thursday, Columbia, SC) L 0–20 (Clemson leads series 29-17-3) Wake Forest W 21–6 Boston College W 21–2 At Furman W 34–14 Auburn W 34–0