The Clemson Tigers upset the 17th ranked Texas A&M Aggies Saturday night 25-24. The win continued to show progress towards reaching the next level for the program. The Tigers have experienced big wins in recent years under head coach Tommy Bowden. So where does this win rank amongst the other big wins?
Coach Bowden’s first big win came on the road in Atlanta against the 10th ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Woody Dantzler had an amazing performance in the 47-44 overtime victory. However, the Tigers were still building and were not able to carry the momentum over.
In 2003, Coach Bowden was put to the fire. As rumors swirled about his job security, Coach Bowden put together one of the most memorable finishes in Clemson history. The Tigers upset #3 Florida State and #6 Tennessee. The Tigers finished the year 9-4 and Coach Bowden earned a contract extension.
Last season, the Tigers made a triumphant return to the Orange Bowl. Coach Bowden added a fourth tombstone to his collection with a 24-17 overtime victory against ACC newcomer Miami. It was the highlight of a four-game win streak, but it was followed by a collapse at Duke.
Now, we look at Saturday night’s game. Texas A&M was considered by many to be a title contender in the Big 12, and Reggie McNeal is one of the most explosive players in college football. It was a huge win considering several factors known coming into the game along with ones that came about during the game.
The Tigers won on six field goals and a punt return for a touchdown, and also played much of the fourth quarter without starting quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. The Tigers weathered the storm early and showed the ability to deliver in crunch time. They also displayed a running game that has not been seen since Dantzler graduated piling up 186 yards against the Aggies big defensive line.
If we were to rank Bowden’s wins, the top pick would have to come down to Florida State and Texas A&M. The FSU game was huge, because it likely saved Bowden his job. However, the Tigers were out of ACC title contention and still finished the year with four losses. This is why I believe this was Coach Bowden’s biggest win. The Tigers can use this momentum to build towards a special season.
The program is still undergoing growing pains with two new coordinators, but on Saturday night they showed they could compete like a top 25 team with those growing pains. This team is expected to get better as the year goes on, but a win against Texas A&M has sent a wealth of confidence into a young football team.
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