There is certain places that only certain teams win at like Doak Campbell, Kyle Field, and the Orange Bowl. Also, teams are not able to come from behind in the 4th quarter and beat the big progams. Traditionally, when you try and beat a national power you cannot have missed opportunities. Saturday Clemson was playing in the Orange Bowl, down at the start of the 4th quarter, missed 3 Fgs and dropped a big pass.
In hindsight, the recipe was perfect for disaster. How did this team that started the year 1-4 overcome what was seemingly insurmountable odds?
When apparently everyone quit on this team and the coaching staff, fortunately the team and coaching staff did not. It would have been easy to fold after failing to meet early season expectations. All signs pointed towards a 3-8 collapse, but once again the Tigers persevered and knocked off a top ten opponent.
Last season, they knocked off number three Florida State at home. This time the Tigers faced a Miami team on the road that was coming off their first loss. The expected early barrage of punches came, and Clemson quickly found itself down 10-0 and on the brink of defeat. Then, the offense moved the ball down the field and connected on 48-yard field goal by Jad Dean.
Miami had its chances to put Clemson away, most notably on one play. All eyes were on Devin Hester, Miami faked the bubble screen to Hester and threw downfield to Lance Leggett. Leggett had two steps on Tye Hill, but Brock Berlin overthrew a sure touchdown. Clemson’s regathered itself and forced a punt avoiding sheer disaster. Miami was able to add a touchdown before the half to carry a 17-3 lead into the locker room.
Then it happened...
Potential turned into product. The team that Tiger fans had been waiting on all year showed up. Miami’s offense was left lifeless. In the first half, Miami rushed for over 100 yards, but was held to minus-7 yards rushing after the half. Reggie Merriweather was given an opportunity to carry the offense. An effective running game allowed Charlie Whitehurst to be more effective. Capitalize on a few missed opportunities and not only would the Tigers have won, but they would have torched Miami.
Even in the darkest hour, this team never gave up, never stop working, and most importantly they continued to believe what their coaches were telling them. When message boards were blowing up with complaints after a 20-points loss, this team went to work and now has won four in a row on the verge of being the first team in ACC history to make a bowl after a 1-4 start.
For all of the critics, you can now go back into hiding. The team has stepped back into the spotlight, and the lights are once again shining bright for the Clemson Tigers.