Tigers Shock the World in Bowden Bowl V
|Sunday, November 9, 2003, 1:16 AM- -|
CLEMSON - Forget trying to figure out these Clemson Tigers. One week after a humiliating 28 point loss at Wake Forest, Tommy Bowden's team pulled off a win over the highest ranked opponent in school history - 26-10 over No. 3 Florida State - Saturday night in Bowden Bowl V. The Tigers twice had defeated teams ranked No. 4 in the polls, both in 1981 (Georgia, Nebraska), before turning the trick Saturday. In doing so, Clemson not only ended an 11-game losing streak to the Seminoles but - with Bowden's job security so much an issue in the press all week - might have guaranteed that the embattled coach will be around for at least Bowden Bowl VI. "I told him his job out to be good for about another five days," Bobby Bowden joked after the game. "He's probably safe for another week." As the elder Bowden spoke, many of the 81,000 fans in attendance were celebrating on the Death Valley turf. In fact, the good times began to roll a bit early when P.A. announcer Dale Gilbert mistakenly informed the crowd the game was over following a Florida State incompletion that turned the ball over on downs with :05 to go. As thousands of orange-clad fans stormed the field and attacked both goal posts, the officials waved an end to matters and beat a path to the locker room. Shortly thereafter the goal posts, splintered into multiple sections, were carried out of the stadium and paraded through the streets of Clemson's campus by jubilant fans intent on making this night to remember last as long as possible. "I wish I could say I knew we would win, but no one ever knows from Saturday to Saturday," Tommy Bowden said. "I think the ray of hope is that anything is possible and that our players know that. I told the team the first thing in the locker room after the loss at Wake Forest that I expected to win this game. "What it came down to was personnel. Our guys kept executing and performing." It was that kind of night for the Tigers, who set the tone for the game early on and had an answer for every Florida State challenge. A late first half touchdown run by Charlie Whitehurst, which put Clemson on top 13-0, offered the first glimpse that Saturday night might be something special. The score was set up by a beautiful 51-yard pass from Whitehurst to Kevin Youngblood to the FSU four, and sent a jolt of electricity through the stadium that lasted through the half. When the lead grew to 23-3 near the end of the third quarter on a Whitehurst-to-Derrick Hamilton 58-yard scoring strike, the very idea of finishing the upset began to take hold. And if there were any doubt left in Death Valley that victory would indeed come to pass, Clemson's defense forced turnovers on FSU's next two possessions - an interception by Leroy Hill and a fumble recovery by DeJuan Polk - ended any hopes of a Seminole rally. "We (FSU) played so good against Notre Dame (last week) and Clemson played so bad against Wake Forest," Bobby Bowden said. "And when you put those two against each other, it's almost like a brain transplant. After getting run roughshod over for the past two weeks, Clemson's defense appeared to have undergone a heart transplant. After yielding better than 350 yards rushing to Wake Forest a week ago, the Tigers threw up a stone wall at the Florida State running backs. The Seminoles carried 17 times for a net 11 yards on the evening, which turned up the heat on quarterback Chris Rix. Rix threw for 194 yards (16-of-31), but was intercepted twice, sacked three times and was generally ineffective for most of the evening. He was finally pulled in favor of Fabian Walker late in the fourth quarter, who provided FSU with its only touchdown courtesy of a 71-yard strike to Chauncey Stovall. "We tried to make them one dimensional and make Chris Rix beat us," said Clemson linebacker John Leake. "We forced some turnovers and the offense got going. They played great...we beat a great team tonight." Meanwhile, Whitehurst wrapped up another big passing night with a 272 yard performance (17-of-27) to pace an offense which rolled up 424 yards of total offense. As for the younger Bowden, he refused to speculate on whether this victory was enough to deflect talk about his future employment at the university. Instead, he focused on what it meant for everyone else. "I look at this as a big win for the players and the school," Bowden said. "The president and the administration will have to determine how big of a win it was for me. But I look at more of how big it was for the players. "Professionally it's big when you beat a Bobby Bowden-coached Florida State team you've beaten the best. He's at the top of the list. About everybody behind him is dead, except for (Penn State coach Joe) Paterno.
Drive Chart FIRST QUARTER
Clemson 3, FSU 0
Scoring Drive: 11 plays, 65 yards in 4:17.
Scoring Play: Aaron Hunt's 23-yard field goal at 8:25.
Key Play: Whitehurst's 24-yard pass to Coleman to the FSU 9.
Clemson 6, FSU 0
Scoring Drive: 13 plays, 54 yards in 6:03.
Scoring Play: Hunt's 35-yard field goal at 14:56.
Key Play: On third-and-21 at the FSU 35, Whitehurst completes 17 yards to Youngblood.
Clemson 13, FSU 0
Scoring Drive: 8 plays, 65 yards in 2:35.
Scoring Play: Whitehurst 1-yard scramble at :15.
Key Play: Whitehurst's 51-yard pass to Youngblood to the FSU 4.
Clemson 16, FSU 0
Scoring Drive: 11 plays, 63 yards in 4:59.
Scoring Play: Hunt's 32-yard field goal at 6:39.
Key Play: Whitehurst's 23-yard pass to Baham on third-and-6 from the CU 27.
Clemson 16, FSU 3
Scoring Drive: 9 plays, 40 yards in 3:14.
Scoring Play: Xavier Beitia's 46-yard field goal at 3:25.
Key Play: Rix completes 26 yards to Stovall to the Clemson 28.
Clemson 23, FSU 3
Scoring Drive: 4 plays, 75 yards in 2:02.
Scoring Play: Whitehurst's 58-yard pass to Hamilton at 1:23.
Key Play: Scoring Play.
Clemson 26, FSU 3
Scoring Drive: 9 plays, 29 yards in 4:02.
Scoring Play: Hunt's 37-yard field goal at 8:29.
Key Play: Jasmin's 11-yard run to the FSU 24.
Clemson 26, FSU 10
Scoring Drive: 5 plays, 84 yards in 1:12.
Scoring Play: Walker's 71-yard pass to Stovall at 2:14.
Key Play: Scoring Play.
FSU Clem First downs 10 26 Rushes-yards 17-11 50-152 Passing 358 272 Comp-Att-Int 27-52-2 17-27-1 Return Yards 14 24 Punts-Avg. 4-43.4 5-33.8 Fumbles-Lost 3-1 1-0 Penalties-Yards 10-105 7-62 Time of Possession 23:32 36:28
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS RUSHING-Florida St., Jones 7-12, Washington 3-6, Walker 1-1, Dean 1-0, Rix 5-(minus 8). Clemson, Coleman 12-50, Jasmin 14-50, Whitehurst 19-39, Hamilton 3-12, Currie 1-2, team 1-(minus 1).
PASSING-Florida St., Rix 16-31-2-194, Walker 11-21-0-164. Clemson, Whitehurst 17-27-1-272.
RECEIVING-Florida St., Booker 6-9, Stovall 4-131, Thorpe 4-62, Washington 4-23, Sam 3-21, Reid 2-46, Robinson 1-32, Irons 1-20, Dean 1-9, Carter 1-5. Clemson, Hamilton 6-123, Coleman 5-38, Youngblood 4-80, Baham 1-23, Grant 1-8.