From racing pulses to Bananas Foster to the 4th quarter, it was that kind of night


by - Senior Writer -
Swinney is all smiles as he heads to the locker room.
Swinney is all smiles as he heads to the locker room.

I am not saying that Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl was exciting, but it was that kind of night.

We were sitting in the press box during the final quarter of Clemson’s 29-23 victory over Ohio State at State Farm Stadium Saturday night and Nikki leaned over to check her pulse. It sat at 107 beats per minute and was rising as the Tigers and Buckeyes duked it out, and you can bet she wasn’t the only person in the stadium whose pulse was racing. It was that kind of night.

Linebacker James Skalski looked up at me in the locker room and smiled a weary smile and said, “That might have been the most fun I’ve ever had playing football. I am tired and I’m hurting but that was fun.”

It’s been a while since there was a big pregame buzz for the Tigers – probably going back to the National Championship against Alabama last season. Even the Texas A&M game this year lacked the pop and sizzle of a truly big game, but this one had it all.

Former Clemson golfer Doc Redman and former Clemson baseball players Chris Williams and Patrick Cromwell had “family area” passes given to them by head coach Dabo Swinney, and Cromwell was desperately trying to get out of the family area and onto the rest of the field. Redman gently and then more forcefully reminded Cromwell that the passes were given to them by the head coach so they had better behave, but Cromwell was full of determination. I am not sure if he ever made it, but who can blame him?

It was that kind of night.

Former Clemson running back C.J. Spiller was walking down the sidelines watching Clemson warm-up and ran into former Clemson defensive Travis Blanks, who now works for the school. Blanks laughed and told Spiller that only the skill players were warming up but the real players would soon be out of the locker room.

“The real dogs are still inside,” Blanks said with a laugh. “You guys sell the tickets, but it’s the defense that wins championships.”

In the Fiesta Bowl, it took a gritty effort from the offense AND the defense and a special game from punter Will Spiers to win the game, proving Swinney right when he says you have to be good in all three phases to win.

It was that kind of night.

The general feeling before the game was that Clemson would be able to take advantage of Ohio State’s one-high safety look. The Buckeyes use the front-seven to stop the run and then depend on an NFL-type secondary to control the passing game, but the coaches thought they could win some 1-on-1 matchups with Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins on the outside.

Then Higgins got hurt and Ross had to change positions – and then Ross got hurt – and Clemson had to rely on other players, like running back Travis Etienne, in the passing game. It was obvious the loss of Higgins affected the offense in the first half as Lawrence and Ross couldn’t quite get on the same page, but Higgins returned in the second half. Even though he didn’t make the dynamic plays we’re used to, his mere presence settled down the offense and they were able to pull out the win.

In the press box, things went to heck in a handbasket during the third quarter. There is a hard and fast rule in all press boxes – no cheering in the press box. Members of the media are reminded before and during every game, but there are times when certain credentialed members forget where they are.

One member of an Ohio State website sat behind our Tony Crumpton and implored the Buckeyes to “move the chains” and “give it to J.K. Dobbins” all night. Some people sit and watch a game and want to talk all night, but I prefer quiet so I can watch the game and write and absorb what I am seeing. We had one person in the box who talked into nothing but air about anything and everything, saying, “Well, he ran into the A gap there but the A-gap was closed. Are there still drinks up there? What was Dabo thinking there? Where are postgame interviews? Was that the A-gap again? Did they move the linebacker over? Is there an extra safety? Did they move that guy to nickel? Did you have the Bananas Foster for dessert? I swear that was the A-gap.”

After a while, I can tune that out, but a man who is the publisher for a big Ohio State website kept up a giddy, running commentary through much of the first half, even going as far to loudly try and make travel reservations to New Orleans. However, the targeting call made him outraged and then he got even more demonstrative when the fumble and scoop and score was overturned.

“There is no way they can overturn that,” he said. “If they do, I am out of here. That would be such BS!!!” When the call was overturned he screamed, “That’s BS (said, not spelled). Holy sh**.” And then he dropped an F-bomb.

A student journalist from Clemson glared at him and got a double-bird for his efforts when he turned back around.

It was that kind of night.

Then came that fourth quarter, with pulses racing, and the excitement of another confetti shower and a winning locker room.

More on that to come, because as I’ve said, it was that kind of night.

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spacer TNET: From racing pulses to Bananas Foster to the 4th quarter, it was that kind of night
TigerNet News
spacer Standing by my computer waiting on "more of that to come".
TigerHawk76®
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AmeriTiger®
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ddclemson
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Tigerdoc43
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PATIGGER
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