November 8, 2003…..
In the fifth installment of “The Bowden Bowl,” Florida State came into Death Valley 8-1, and ranked third in nation with national title aspirations. The Tigers came in a very disappointing 5-4, having gotten destroyed by Wake 45-17 the week before. A loss most thought had sealed head coach Tommy Bowden’s fate.
In the week leading up to the game, most of the talk centered on when, not if, the school would cut ties with its head coach. Florida State was a heavy favorite and had won eleven straight over the Tigers and were looking to lock up another ACC title on Bobby Bowden’s 74th birthday.
Instead, the Tigers came out with a 26-10 win in a performance more dominant than the final score indicated. Clemson’s defense harassed Noles QB Chris Rix all night long and held FSU to just 11 yards rushing, along with forcing three turnovers.
The win resulted in a raucous celebration on the field that ended with both goal posts being torn down. The fans were chanting “Tommy! Tommy!” just one week after wanting him fired.
The win started a streak that saw the Tigers win the rest of their games that season, including a 63-17 thrashing of rival UofSC, and a 27-14 upset win over the Vols in the Peach Bowl. For better or for worse, it also resulted in a contract extension for Tommy Bowden that would keep him in Tiger Town another four plus seasons.
You can see a little of the postgame here.