Clemson vs. Defending National Champion
Clemson vs. Defending National Champion
Saturday will mark the third appearance for the defending National Champion in Clemson Memorial Stadium. The Tigers are 2-0 in the previous two appearances by defending champs. (We are talking teams that won either of the two major polls, AP or the Coach’s poll of the era).
The last time the defending National Champion came to Clemson was September 28, 1991. Georgia Tech won the UPI National title in 1990, then came to Clemson for the third game of 1991. The Tigers won that game 9-7 behind a two-yard run for a touchdown by Ronald Williams with just 2:06 left. Williams finished with 102 yards rushing in that game.
The only other time the defending National Champion came to Clemson was on September 19, 1981. Georgia had won the National Championship by AP and UPI behind freshman Herschel Walker in 1980 with a perfect season. They came to Clemson for the third game of the 1981 season and the Tigers won the contest 13-3. Homer Jordan, a native of Athens, GA, threw for 135 yards and rushed for 59 in leading the Tigers to the victory.
Clemson’s defense forced nine turnovers (recorded by nine different players) in holding the Bulldogs without a touchdown. It was he only regular season loss of Herschel Walker’s Georgia career.
Overall, Clemson is 3-5 against the defending National Champion. The other victory took place at the Citrus Bowl that concluded the 1987 season when Clemson defeated Penn State 35-10. Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions had won the 1986 National Championship. It remains the largest margin of defeat for Paterno.
There are some similarities/ties in Clemson’s victories at Death Valley against defending National Champions:
•Clemson’s previous victories over the defending national champion at Memorial Stadium came in the third game of the season. Saturday will be Clemson’s third game of the 2011 season.
•Both previous times, Clemson had suffered a narrow loss the previous season during the opponent’s National Championship season on the opponent’s home field. In 1980, Clemson lost at Georgia 20-16 and in 1990, Clemson had lost at Georgia Tech 21-19. Last year Clemson lost in overtime at Auburn 27-24.
•Georgia and Georgia Tech came to Clemson as top 25 teams. Georgia was ranked fourth in 1981 and Georgia Tech was ranked 19th in 1991.
•The fathers of current Tigers Landon WalkerLandon Walker
RS Jr. Offensive Line
#72 6-6, 310
North Wilkesboro, NC
View Full Profile (Gary Walker) and Shaq AnthonyShaq Anthony
Fr. Offensive Line
#76 6-4, 260
View Full Profile (Vernie Anthony) were members of the 1981 team that beat Georgia. The father of current Tiger DeShawn WilliamsDeShawn Williams
Fr. Defensive Tackle
#99 6-1, 295
View Full Profile (Ronald Wiliams) was Clemson’s top rusher (102 yards) and scored the winning touchdown vs. Georgia Tech in 1991.
ªBoth previous defending National Champions travelled to Clemson via I-85 North to get to Tigertown. Auburn will come that route on Friday for Saturday’s game.
•Clemson was coming off a six win season in 1980 when it faced Georgia in 1981. Clemson comes off a six-win season in 2010 as it plays Auburn in 2011. Clemson had won 10 games in 1990 prior to its 1991 game with Georgia Tech.
Auburn enters Saturday’s game on a 17-game winning streak, the longest winning streak in the nation. If Clemson gains victory it will be the longest streak stopped by a Tigers football team in history. The previous long streak stopped by the Clemson grid program took place in 1981 when Clemson ended Georgia’s 15-game winning streak. The Bulldogs had won the National Championship in 1980 with a 12-0 record.
The only other double digit streak Clemson has stopped in its history took place in 1950. In the Jan. 1, 1951 Orange Bowl at the end of that 1950 season, the Tigers ended Miami (FL) 10-game unbeaten streak with a 15-14 victory. Miami had been 9-0-1 entering that game.
Clemson ended an eight-game winning streak by Nebraska in the 1982 Orange Bowl, giving the Tigers the National Championship. So that great 1981 Clemson team ended two of the four longest streaks in Clemson football history.
Year Opponent Site Cu-Opp Streak
1981 Georgia H 13-3 15
1950 #Miami (FL) N1 15-14 10
1981 Nebraska N1 22-15 8
1923 Furman A 7-6 8
1939 Boston College N2 6-3 7
1959 TCU N3 23-7 7
2003 Tennessee N4 27-14 6
1989 NC State H 30-10 6
1991 NC State H 29-19 6
N1—Orange Bowl, Miami, FL; N2—Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX; N3 Bluebonnet Bowl, Houston, TX; N4—Chick-fil-A Bowl, Atlanta, GA