Topic: On This Date: 1981 (2)Clemson- 10 (8)North Carolina- 8
Replies: 11   Last Post: Nov 8, 2018 1:10 AM by: Greenwar®
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On This Date: 1981 (2)Clemson- 10 (8)North Carolina- 8

Posted: Nov 7, 2018 7:55 AM

November 7, 1981
Chapel Hill, NC

In 1981, a second-ranked Clemson team—still playing for a possible national championship run—defeated the No. 8 Tar Heels in one of the greatest games in ACC history. The final score that day was 10-8.

Ironically, though, Clemson was coming off an 82-point performance against Wake Forest the week before traveling to Chapel Hill in 1981. Then Clemson head coach Danny Ford, however, knew Game 9 of the 1981 season would be the toughest one left on his schedule. He also knew it would be the one with the most distractions, too.

Clemson, 8-0, was ranked No. 2 by the Associated Press and No. 3 by United Press International (the Coaches Poll) coming into its November 7, 1981 clash at North Carolina. The Tar Heels were 7-1 and ranked No. 8 in both major polls.

“The North Carolina game did more for us winning the national championship than any other game,” said All-American linebacker Jeff Davis. “It was the ultimate test for us. We expected to win in Death Valley and we expected teams to already be behind when the whistle blew in Death Valley. But, to go into the backyard of a top 10-football team with everything at stake, and win, that did it for us.

“Remember, North Carolina had everything to play for. It’s right there for them. You can think there were people wondering ‘Can Clemson stay focused?’ And we beat them in a fight. It was an all-out brawl. May the best man win! It was man-on-man.”

The 1981 contest was the first time in the history of ACC football that two of its schools clashed in a battle of top 10 teams. With an ACC Championship and a major bowl bid at stake, it was dubbed the biggest game to ever be played in the state of North Carolina.

“(North Carolina) came to play,” said defensive end Jeff Bryant. “They were at home and they were a top 10 team. We both were striving for that goal which was to win the ACC and take it further from that.

“It was a very physical game. I can remember being sore for a couple of days after that.”


It was also Homecoming Weekend in Chapel Hill, and it was the last game at Kenan Stadium for UNC’s seniors – a class that had helped the Tar Heels win an ACC Championship the year before and beat traditional powers such as Texas and Oklahoma along the way.

To top things off there were bowl representatives from eight bowl games in attendance, more than any other game that afternoon across the country. Sports Illustrated had been at Clemson all week to chronicle the Tigers’ magical run and was in Chapel Hill on that afternoon as well.

ABC was broadcasting it as part of their regional coverage and carried the game throughout most of the country. All of America’s eyes seem to be placed on this small school from the foothills of South Carolina, and Ford knew he had to do something to turn his team’s focus to what was really important – beating the Tar Heels.

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Re: On This Date: 1981 (2)Clemson- 10 (8)North Carolina- 8

Posted: Nov 7, 2018 7:58 AM

I did not have a vcr then so the wife and I got up in the wee hours of a weekday to watch a replay of this game back then


boy have times changed 74! thats a great memory***

Posted: Nov 7, 2018 7:59 AM

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I was there in Chapel Hill for this game. I was 18 yo and

Posted: Nov 7, 2018 8:19 AM

couple of my high school lady friends were freshman at UNC. They got me a ticket and told me to drive up for the game. I was the lone orange clad spot in the UNC student section. For the most part I was treated very well among the UNC students. After the game I was so exhausted after the intense defensive struggle game. I was very relived that we pulled it out. Later that evening my lady friends took me out to a couple of bars on Franklin Street. I slept on the floor in their dorm room and the next morning headed home.

I just can't believe that was 37 years ago. Time goes by so fast.

Thats a cool memory too, Lake. Love hearing these***

Posted: Nov 7, 2018 8:29 AM

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Re: Thats a cool memory too, Lake. Love hearing these***

Posted: Nov 7, 2018 8:52 AM

Thanks j tiger!

I really enjoyed reading these posts of these great games of yesteryears. Especially the ones back in the 1980's. That was a great decade!
Thanks..keep them coming! :)

Re: On This Date: 1981 (2)Clemson- 10 (8)North Carolina- 8

Posted: Nov 7, 2018 8:25 AM

Thank you for sharing this memory. I was in high school and recall watching that game from the couch of a friend's house. At the time, we had no idea that little old Clemson would go on to win the National Championship!

Man don't you love Perry with that ripped Jersey? This wasn'

Posted: Nov 7, 2018 8:33 AM

a game for weak

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Re: On This Date: 1981 (2)Clemson- 10 (8)North Carolina- 8

Posted: Nov 7, 2018 8:47 AM

I was there. Got pelted with ice and bottles from their upper deck when Bryant recovered the fumble.

It was a great day in Chapel Hole! :)

Danny Ford quote about the game

Posted: Nov 7, 2018 9:16 AM

We are preparing for everything from UNC defense including them bringing back Lawrence Taylor from the NFL.

Re: 1981 (2)Clemson- 10 (8)North Carolina-8- full game link

Posted: Nov 7, 2018 9:30 AM



Re: On This Date: 1981 (2)Clemson- 10 (8)North Carolina- 8

Posted: Nov 8, 2018 1:10 AM

Oh yes, I too was there as a Sophomore and had Student Tickets. Dang, I was wore out after screaming for most of that game. Our student section had Tarhole students sitting above us and I got hit with several bottles and cups of Jack Daniels. Smelled like a brewery when I left, but WE left with our winning streak in tact. I remember that ABC SUCKD then and still does for the way they treated us. I "think" 2 students / potential players had just gone to the NCAA and claimed that we offered them a couple of hundred dollars to commit / play and ABC planned to run the story during halftime. The WHOLE SCHOOL including the President, threatened to boycott the game if ABC ran that story and so the opted not to run it. It was later published anyway. Someone check my facts, but I distinctly remember all students planning the boycott and we actually being fully supported by the CU President (Acthley). I heard lots of rumors back then, and I never was convinced that we paid anyone squat and I'm convinced we were almost totally railroaded.


Regardless, GREAT times !!!

Some of us are SO BLESSED to have seen TWO (and now possible 3 Nattys in our lifetimes) !


1979 - 1983

Tiger Town Tavern
The Warehouse
The ESSO Club
Sitting on the brick wall around the City Police Station drinking a beer (they did not have room to arrest all of us)
Miss Universe (around that time - Shawn Weatherly)
A Southeastern Water Ski Champion (Tish Fain, Maybe?)
Home Jordan, Kinnard, Tuttle, McCall, McSwain, Igwebuike (Why don't we have kickers from the Soccer Team like that anymore ?)


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