Let’s take a trip back to the 1978 game between Clemson and Maryland that many still consider to be one of the greatest games in Atlantic Coast Conference history. Both came into this game with 8-1 records and ranked in the top twelve.
It took place on November 18th in College Park and would decide the ACC. It also proved to be as exciting as a heavyweight championship fight.
This game was one that had big play after big play. By both teams. At one time there were three straight scores of at least 60 yards.
Maryland scored on a blocked punt that Mike Carney recovered in the end zone. Then on the very next possession, Clemson’s Jerry Butler broke free in the secondary and took it 87 yards for a touchdown.
Maryland then countered with a 98 yard touchdown run by running back Steve Atkins. That run still stands as the longest run in ACC history.
Not to be outdone, Tigers quarterback Steve Fuller hit future All Pro Dwight Clark over the middle for a 67 yard touchdown.
Clemson then went on a 70 yard fourth quarter drive that ended with a five yard touchdown run by Brown to make it 28-21. Maryland was not done yet though.
The Terps drove to the Tigers seven, but on third down Clemson’s Bubba Brown stopped Maryland’s Dean Richards for a loss, forcing the Terps to settle for a field goal with 1:56 left in the game that made it 28-24.
Clemson‘s Chuck Rose recovered the following onside kick. Fuller guided the Tigers to a pair of first downs as Clemson was able to run the clock out and win the game 28-24.
The win also gave Clemson the ACC title, and earned themselves a second straight bid to the Gator Bowl.
After the game the Tigers Head Coach, Charlie Pell said:
“The story of today’s game is more than what happened on the playing field. It’s something that was two years in the making and it took an unbelievable amount of work and dedication from our coaches and players. Last year, we learned how to win. This year, mainly in the last two weeks, we’ve shown that we have what it takes to win by coming from behind.”
When the Tigers charter plane from Washington, D.C. landed, there were more than 8,000 fans there waiting to greet the team, something the Greeneville-Spartanburg airport wasn’t ready for.
For over a mile, cars were parked on both sides of the road, leading to the airport all the way from I-85.
Fun Fact: The only known video footage of the game only has the second half. The reason is given at the start of the video.
”As it was explained to me, a video tape of the 1978 Clemson-Maryland game was being shown to some Clemson football recruits when the actual magnetic tape broke. The following 24 minutes represents all known game footage from that time. Clemson snapped a six game losing streak to Maryland and defeated the #11 Terps on the road on the way to a 11-1 season.”