Dec. 6, 2009
CLEMSON, SC – Clemson will meet Kentucky in the 12th Annual Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl on Sunday, December 27 in Nashville, TN. The game will be played at LP Field, the home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans at 8:30 PM eastern time.
Clemson and Kentucky met in the same bowl game in 2006 and the Wildcats came away with a 28-20 victory. This will be the third meeting between Clemson and Kentucky in a bowl game. The Tigers won the first contest by a 14-13 score at the 1993 Peach Bowl.
Overall, Kentucky has an 8-4 lead in the series that dates to 1925 when Kentucky won in Lexington, 19-6. Clemson’s biggest win in the series might have been in 1981 when the Tigers were victorious 21-3 in Lexington. It was Clemson’s fourth straight win on the way to the national championship that year.
The Kentucky Wildcats, 7-5 overall and 3-5 in the SEC East, are making their fourth Bowl appearance in Nashville. Coach Rich Brooks team is led this year on offense by all-purpose performers Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke. Cobb, who plays wide receiver and quarterback, finished the regular season second in the SEC in touchdowns; third in all-purpose yards per game; and third in punt return average. Locke leads the team in rushing and is second in the SEC in all-purpose yardage. It has been a year of milestone victories for the Wildcats as they won at Auburn for the first time since 1961 and at Georgia for the first time since 1977.
Clemson won the Atlantic Division Championship this year with a 6-2 conference mark, including wins over Miami (FL) and Florida State for the first time in the same season. The Tigers are 8-5 overall after suffering a 39-34 ACC Championship game loss to Georgia Tech on December 5. It was Clemson’s third loss this year by five points or less to a team ranked in the current top 10 of the AP poll.
The Tigers are led by C.J. Spiller, the ACC Player of the Year. The senior had 20 rushes for 233 yards and four touchdowns in the ACC Championship game and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. It is believed to be the first time in any conference championship game that someone on the losing team was named the MVP.
Spiller has set or tied 31 Clemson records and is the only player in the FBS to score at least one touchdown in every game this year. He enters the bowl season with 7,416 all-purpose yards in his career, third best in NCAA history. He needs 349 yards to become the all-time NCAA leader. He has 50 touchdowns in his career, second only to the 56 accumulated by Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.
Quarterback Kyle Parker has guided the Tigers to eight wins this year as the starter, tied for the most among freshman quarterbacks nationally. He has set Clemson freshman records for touchdown passes, yards and completions. His favorite target is second-team All-ACC wide receiver Michael Palmer has 41 catches, a Clemson record for a tight end.
Clemson is led on defense by safety DeAndre McDaniel, who is tied for second in the nation in interceptions with eight. That is tied for the Clemson single season record. Freshman Ricky Sapp was a second team All-ACC player this year and ranks fourth in the ACC in tackles for loss with 14.
Clemson’s special teams are led by Spiller, who ranks fourth in the nation in all-purpose running and four in kickoff return average. He established the NCAA record for career kickoff returns for touchdowns with seven, including four this year, tied for most in the nation. He has as many kickoff returns for touchdowns as the other 11 ACC teams combined. Kicker Richard Jackson is the only kicker in the nation to make six field goals in one game this year (vs. Boston College).
“We were treated very well at the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl in 2006 and are looking forward to returning to Nashville, a great city,” said Clemson Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips. “Kentucky has had a terrific season and has been an outstanding program under Coach Rich Brooks. I am sure it will be a great game.
“Winning our first Atlantic Division Championship and having a chance to play for the ACC title, was a significant accomplishment for Coach (Dabo) Swinney and his staff in his first year. I was proud of the way our team competed all year, and especially last night when we overcame a two touchdown deficit to take the lead in the fourth quarter.
“Few first year coaches at the FBS level have won eight games and played for their conference championship this year. Dabo is a young, bright coach and we will continue to progress under his leadership as the years go on. I have seen first hand that his student-athletes love playing for him. Our future is bright under Coach Swinney.”
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