Putting Bow on 2021 Season: Notes From Clemson’s Cheez-It Bowl Win

Press Release: CUAD

With the Win:

Head Coach Dabo Swinney earned his 150th career win in his 14th season (including an interim stint in 2008) to move past Barry Switzer (149) for sole possession of the third-most wins through the first 15 seasons of a coaching career in FBS history.

Swinney joined Urban Meyer (165) and Bob Stoops (160) as the only coaches in FBS history to win 150 games in the first 15 seasons of a head coaching career.

Swinney earned his 150th career win in only his 186th career game as head coach. He became the sixth-fastest coach in FBS history to 150 wins, trailing only Urban Meyer (176), Gil Dobie (180), Barry Switzer (180), Fielding Yost (184) and Joe Paterno (184). Swinney is the fourth-fastest in the modern era.

Swinney joined Bobby Bowden as the only head coaches ever to lead an ACC program to 150 career wins. Of Bowden’s 377 career wins, a conference-record 173 came during the Seminoles’ membership in the ACC.

Swinney earned his 11th bowl victory to tie Bowden’s ACC record (11) for the most career bowl wins leading an ACC program.

Clemson won its 10th game of the season and has now recorded at least 10 wins for a school-record 11th consecutive season. Clemson became only the third program in history ever to post 11 consecutive 10-win seasons, joining Florida State (14 from 1987-2000) and Alabama (14 from 2008-21). Clemson is the first school to win 10 games in 11 straight seasons as a member of the ACC, as only the final nine of Florida State’s 14-straight 10-win seasons came during the Seminoles’ tenure in the ACC.

Clemson now has 18 seasons of 10 or more wins in school history, with 11 coming under Dabo Swinney.

Clemson won 10 games in a season in which it started 2-2 or worse for the second time in school history, joining the 2014 Tigers that rebounded from a 2-2 start through four games (and a 1-2 start through three games) to finish 10-3 with a bowl win in Orlando. Beyond the 2021 and 2014 teams, the only other Clemson team to reach even nine wins after starting .500 or worse through four games was its 2009 team, which started 2-2 and finished 9-5.

Clemson improved to 26-22 all-time in bowl contests, tying Nebraska and Ohio State for 10th-most bowl wins in FBS history.

Clemson improved to 3-1 all-time in the Cheez-It Bowl across the game’s various monikers. Clemson lost to Texas Tech in the Tangerine Bowl in 2002 but defeated Colorado in the Champs Sports Bowl in 2005 and beat Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl in 2014.

Clemson improved to 6-4 all-time against teams in the Big 12 Conference at the time of the game, including winning its two most recent meetings in 2014 and 2015, both against Oklahoma in postseason play. Six of Clemson’s nine games against the Big 12 prior to the Cheez-It Bowl came against teams no longer in the conference (two against Missouri, two against Texas A&M and one each against Colorado and Nebraska).

Clemson evened its all-time record against schools currently in the Big 12 Conference at 7-7.

Clemson has now won at least one bowl game in eight of its last 10 seasons. The win made Clemson 10-4 in bowl games since 2012, including College Football Playoff National Championship Games.

Clemson is now 66-4 when scoring first since 2015.

Clemson led 6-3 at halftime and has now won 96 of its last 98 games, including each of its last 59, when leading at halftime.

Clemson improved to 118-2 since 2011 when leading after three quarters.

Game Notes:

Clemson played its seventh one-possession game of the season, improving to 5-2 in those contests. It marked the eighth season in which Clemson played at least seven games decided by eight or fewer points, joining the 1958, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1985 and 2015 seasons (seven each) and 2016 season (eight).

Clemson faced Iowa State for the first time in school history. The Cyclones became the 107th different opponent faced by Clemson all-time.

Clemson improved to 65-38-4 all-time in its first meeting with its 107 opponents, including a 16-1 mark in first meetings since 2003. Clemson has won 18 of its last 20 games when making its all-time debut against a new opponent.

Head Coach Dabo Swinney made his 18th bowl game appearance (including CFP National Championship Games) as head coach to tie Bobby Bowden’s ACC record (18) for the most career bowl appearances leading an ACC program. (Note: Only 18 of Bowden’s 32 total career bowl appearances came during Florida State’s years of ACC membership.)

Placekicker B.T. Potter hit 2-of-3 field goals and both of his extra point attempts for eight total points.

Potter (21-of-26) finished the season having posted only the 11th 20-field-goal season in school history and Clemson’s first since 2015 (Greg Huegel, 27).

Potter has now kicked multiple field goals in five consecutive games for the first time in his career. In the four games prior to the Cheez-It Bowl, Potter went 3-of-3 against Louisville, UConn and South Carolina and 2-for-2 against Wake Forest.

Potter added a 51-yard field goal in the second quarter, a season long.

Potter will return next season having scored in 42 consecutive contests. He has scored in every game since earning the starting placekicking job prior to the 2019 season. He served as the team’s kickoff specialist in 2018.

Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei completed 21-of-32 passes for 187 yards. His 21 completions tied his season high set against Syracuse and UConn.

Cornerback Mario Goodrich recorded his second interception of the season, returning a batted Brock Purdy pass 18 yards for a touchdown. The interception was Goodrich’s fifth of his career and resulted in his first career touchdown at the collegiate level.

The defensive touchdown was Clemson’s second of the season, joining linebacker Barrett Carter’s fumble return touchdown against Florida State.

With its second defensive touchdown of the year, Clemson has now recorded multiple defensive touchdowns in 12 straight seasons. The last time Clemson had fewer than two defensive touchdowns in a season was 2009, Dabo Swinney’s first full season as head coach, when the Tigers supplemented a single defensive touchdown with six special teams touchdowns.

Goodrich’s interception return touchdown was Clemson’s first since 2019, when Derion Kendrick returned a Florida State interception 38 yards for a score.

Goodrich’s interception return touchdown was Clemson’s first in a bowl game since A.J. Terrell’s pick-six against Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game to end the 2018 season.

Goodrich helped seal the victory with a fourth-down forced fumble that left Iowa State short of the line to gain on the Cyclones’ final possession. It was Goodrich’s first career forced fumble on what was likely to be the final snap of his college career.

Clemson held Iowa State to 66 rushing yards, marking Clemson’s first time holding four straight opponents to fewer than 100 rushing yards for the first time since a five-game streak to end 2010.

Defensive end K.J. Henry recorded Clemson’s only sack and ends the season having recorded at least a half-sack in four straight games for the first time in his career. His 4.5 sacks this season broke his single-season career high from 2020 (3.5).

Punter Will Spiers, wide receiver/holder Will Swinney and linebacker James Skalski each played in their 69th career games to extend their school record for most career games played. Among accessible data and responses from FBS Sports Information Directors, the 69 games played by each member of the trio is believed to be a modern FBS record.

Spiers started his 69th game to add to his school and national record for career starts. Swinney’s career total as Clemson’s primary holder parallels Spiers’ run as starting punter.

Spiers placed three of his punts inside the 20, giving him 27 on the year and placing him one shy of Bradley Pinion’s school record for punts downed inside the 20 in a single season (28 in 2014). His 108 career punts downed inside the 20 are Clemson’s career record by a wide margin, leading No. 2 Dale Hatcher’s 69 from 1981-84.

Four Tigers — OT Jordan McFadden, OL Walker Parks, LB James Skalski and QB DJ Uiagalelei — started and became the only Clemson players to start every game this season on offense or defense. Every other Clemson offensive or defensive starter missed time or played as a reserve at some point in 2021.

Captains for the contest were Clemson’s elected permanent captains for the 2021 season: offensive lineman Matt Bockhorst (injured), wide receiver Will Brown, cornerback Mario Goodrich, wide receiver Justyn Ross (injured), linebacker James Skalski, linebacker Baylon Spector (injured), punter Will Spiers and safety Nolan Turner (injured).

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