#WayBack Wednesday: 2001 Humanitarian Bowl, Clemson, Snow, and Smurf Turf

Author’s Note: This week in lieu of memories between the opposing teams, since there are none, I chose something a little different. I hope you remember and enjoy.

In what seems like a lifetime ago, Tommy Bowden and his Clemson Tigers headed north for the winter, way up north. That year, the 6-5 Tigers would head to Boise, Idaho to compete in the 2001 Humanitarian Bowl. What an adventure.

I remember, sitting at home watching the introduction of the game broadcast and seeing a sight unlike any other I’d ever seen, a BLUE turfed, snow covered field. Some refer to it as the Smurf Turf.

I checked the color setting on my TV, almost sure I couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing, but like my Momma always said, I’m hard headed. I would just have to get used to watching the game in “Smurf land.”

The 2001 Humanitarian Bowl was the frosty bowl destination for a game featuring the Clemson Tigers and the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. This was the Bulldogs first bowl game since the team’s 1990 tie in the Independence Bowl. They were looking to win a bowl game for the first time since 1977. They had won the WAC Championship in their first season competing as members.

This was Clemson’s third consecutive bowl game and seventh in 10 seasons. They were looking to win a bowl game for the first time since the 1993 Peach Bowl. They had finished, in their usual place, fourth in the ACC. This would be the pattern of Tommy Bowden’s teams, which would ultimately lead to his dismissal.

La Tech scored first on a 29-yard field goal giving the Bulldogs a 3–0 lead. Later in the first quarter, Woody, “Magic Man” Dantzler threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Matt Bailey, as the Tigers took a 7–3 lead into the second quarter. In the second quarter, the Bulldogs scored on an 11-yard touchdown run giving Louisiana Tech a 10–7 lead.

Woody Dantzler threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Roscoe Crosby, giving Clemson a 14–10 lead. They would keep that lead through halftime. In the third quarter, Dantzler threw a 5–yard touchdown pass to Ben Hall, increasing the Tigers lead to 21–10. Dantzler’s fourth touchdown pass, a 62-yarder to Bernard Rambert gave the Tigers a 28–10 lead. Rambert scored on a 21-yard touchdown run to make it 35–10. Airese Currie added a 19-yard touchdown run, as the Tigers clawed to a 42–10 led at the end of three quarters.

In the fourth quarter, Clemson’s backup quarterback, Willie Simmons threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Hamilton, making the lead 49–10. Louisiana Tech would score on a 34-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 49–18. They scored once more on a 2-yard run but the outcome was assured, making the final margin 49–24, giving the Tigers their first bowl game win since 1993.

Among the few thousand Tiger faithful that made the trek up north, a good friend and his family were there. To this day, they all say it was one of the best bowl experiences they’ve ever had. The weather, the city, the people, the food were all wonderful, the warm hospitality was unmatched and the victory by the Tigers topped off a special trip.

All the while, I’m sitting at home, eating chicken wings, in front of the television trying, without much success to make that dang blue turf turn green. I’m glad to say, the Tigers were more successful in their endeavor than I was in mine. Check out the link below to remember.

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