It was January 2, 1989 and Danny Ford’s Tigers were taking on Barry Switzer’s Oklahoma Sooners in the Florida Citrus Bowl. The game was played at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida. Clemson came into the game ranked #13 and Oklahoma was ranked #10.
The Sooners opened the scoring with a 35-yard field goal that gave them the lead 3-0 after the first quarter. The Tigers struck back with two field goals (one from 20 yards and the other from 46 yards) that gave Clemson a 6-3 halftime lead.
The third quarter finished the same way the first did with the only score coming on an Oklahoma field goal. This one was from 30 yards out.
The Tigers broke the 6-6 deadlock in the 4th when the games MVP, Terry Allen, got into the end zone from 4 yards out. This would prove to be the only points of the fourth quarter and only touchdown of the game.
Oklahoma would not go quietly, though. They drove the ball deep into Clemson territory, but on the last play of the game the Tigers batted a ball down in the end zone. That 13–6 win secured Clemson’s second Florida Citrus Bowl victory in two years.
After the game Clemson moved up from #13 to #9 in the polls due to their victory, and Oklahoma dropped from #10 to #14. It also turned out to be the final game for Barry Switzer as Oklahoma’s headman. During his Citrus Bowl postgame press conference Barry Switzer responded to a question about Clemson’s successes in recent years. Switzer stated:
“Clemson would have to go 71-1 and win four national championships to equal what we’ve accomplished.”
Switzer got a bunch of heckling from those who listened from outside the tent where his news conference was being held. That comment especially ignited the few dozen Tiger fans that were listening from about 35 feet away, even though they had been pretty quiet for the majority of the Switzer’s press conference. That ended abruptly with the response from Switzer.
After it he began getting general catcalls and a yell of “Go Clemson.” One fan even yelled “You cheat!” This was thought to be in reference to Oklahoma’s upcoming three year probation and sanctions handed down by the NCAA.
The Sooners were hit hard later that month when they had four players get arrested and charged with rape in the school’s athletic dormitory. Then in February, their quarterback, Charles Thompson, was arrested on drug related charges. Oklahoma’s woes were the subject of a Sports Illustrated cover story in its February 27, 1989 issue.
Oklahoma ended up being put on probation the following June. They were banned from appearing on tv in 1989 and from going to a bowl game in 1989 and 1990. Switzer, who took the Sooners to national championships in 1974, 1975, and 1985 resigned June 19th after 16 seasons at the helm of Oklahoma. During his time as the Sooners head coach he had a 157-29-4 record.