2002 Tangerine Bowl: Clemson vs. Texas Tech
The Tigers struggled through the season but were still invited to represent the ACC in the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando. It and Jacksonville were both favorites of the Tiger Faithful. This was the 13th edition of the Tangerine Bowl, formerly known as Blockbuster/Carquest/MicronPC Bowl. This was the second run under the “Tangerine Bowl” moniker, a reference to the original name of the Citrus.
Tommy Bowden’s 7-5 Tigers began their season with a non-conference loss to No. 8 Georgia 31-28. This was the first of four losses to ranked opponents, while the team finished with one more win in the regular season than the previous year. They finished fourth in the ACC behind Florida State, Virginia & Maryland, and NC State, all of whom beat Clemson. This was the ninth bowl game for the Tigers in 10 years.
Mike Leach’s 8-5 Red Raiders finished 2nd in the Southern Division of the Southwest Conference to Oklahoma and Texas, having lost to the former in Oklahoma and having beaten the latter at home. They were 2-5 against ranked opponents, having beaten No. 23 Texas A&M and No. 4 Texas, but losing to No. 12 Ohio State, No. 16 NC State, No. 11 Iowa State, No. 21 Colorado and No. 3 Oklahoma. This was the eighth bowl game for the Red Raiders in nine years.
Texas Tech’s high-flying offense was led by a familiar name, quarterback Kliff Kingsbury, who was MVP as the Red Raider’s buried the Tigers 55-15. It was a long, long game. The Red Raiders led 31-2 at halftime and it got worse in the second half.
The only high points for the Tigers came in the third quarter. Charlie Whitehurst threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Ben Hall to make it 34–9. Then, in the fourth quarter, Clemson’s Chad Jasmin scored on a 2-yard touchdown run making it 41–15.
The Orlando experience was great as usual but our family did things a little differently that trip. We stayed an hour away at Clearwater Beach. It was beautiful. There was another reason, other than the score, this game was a forgettable dud. The stands were virtually empty and the energy was very low. It was unlike anything I’d witnessed since the truly forgettable 1985 Independence Bowl in Shreveport. The attendance was announced as 20,000 or so but that was a generous number.
2004 Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl: Clemson vs. Tennessee
This was one gem of a bowl game and probably isn’t too forgotten. Tommy Bowden’s 8-4, unranked Tigers met Phillip Fulmer’s No. 8 Tennessee Volunteers (10-2) in Atlanta. We traveled there and met some great friends that just happened to wear the wrong color orange, Tennessee orange.
I’m not a smack-talker but after the pregame tailgate, I had heard enough from the over confident Vol fans. Yes, they were favored, yes they were ranked and as usual, I had a bad feeling. However, I was fuming underneath my calm demeanor. I drew the line when the biggest mouth of all tried to bet me that his Vols wound destroy the Tigers. Daddy, ever the country gentleman, watched and listened as he graciously gave me 10 points, for $100 dollars. That’s when I heard daddy speak. “I’ll take that bet and since you’re so confident in the outcome, let’s make it $500.” I looked at daddy and thought, your pockets are way deeper than mine, you go boy. The guy took it.
It was a fun game that went virtually all Clemson’s way. The Tigers won it quite convincingly, 27-14. Yes, that is a thirteen point victory! It looked like it was going to be a fun, postgame tailgate. However, the country gentleman, my daddy, shook the “big mouths” hand and called off the bet. His parting words, “don’t ever poke a dull stick at an angry Tiger.” He was right. It was indeed a great trip.
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