Nov. 3, 2003
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When Florida State’s Bobby Bowden and Clemson’s Tommy Bowden take the field Saturday evening to coach their respective teams at Clemson Memorial Stadium, it will be the fifth competition of father and son in NCAA Division I history. The previous four occasions have taken place the last four years when the two teams met. Father has beaten son in all four previous meetings with an average score of 40-20.
The first meeting in 1999 was a festive atmosphere at Clemson as a record 86,092 fans attended. In addition to the hype concerning a father coaching against a son for the first time, Bobby Bowden was going for his 300th career victory. He got it, but it was a struggle, as the Tigers fought the Seminoles to the wire before #1 ranked Florida State came away with a 17-14 victory. It was the closest victory for the Seminoles on the way to the 1999 National Championship. Clemson had two offensive touchdowns to Florida State’s one.
Florida State won the second meeting in 2000 in Tallahassee by a 54-7 count. Clemson entered the game with an 8-1 record and #10 national ranking, while Florida State was ranked fourth in the nation. It was just the third meeting of top 10 ACC teams in league history. Clemson was coming off a heartbreaking 31-28 loss to Georgia Tech the previous week and that loss seemed to linger. Florida State gained 771 yards of total offense, most ever against a Clemson team, including 521 passing, also a high against a Clemson team.
In 2001, in a game at Death Valley, Clemson gained 463 yards of total offense against Florida State, its high total ever against the Seminoles, but still lost 41-27. The Tigers could not stop freshman quarterback Chris Rix and the Florida State passing game as the Seminoles threw for 369 yards and gained 557 overall. Woody Dantzler had 336 yards of total offense, but it was not enough as the Seminoles won for the sixth straight time in Death Valley.
Last year’s game was another track meet with Florida State winning in Tallahassee, 48-31. Clemson won the total offense war 441-386, as Willie Simmons had a career high 343 yards rushing and passing, the most total offense in history by a Clemson player against the Seminoles. J.J. McKelvey had five catches for 117 yards to key the Clemson offense. But, Florida State scored on a 97-yard kickoff return by Leon Washington and Greg Jones rushed for 165 yards and three scores to give Florida State its 11th straight win over the Tigers.
Bobby Bowden has enjoyed success against Clemson in Death Valley, regardless of the opposing coach. Father Bowden is 6-0 in Death Valley, the only opposing coach with a perfect record in the facility given a minimum of two games. He has beaten Clemson five times in a row in Death Valley as an ACC coach and also defeated Clemson 24-21 in the famous “Puntrooskie” game of 1988.
The Clemson vs. Florida State games the last four years are not the only times Bowdens have been on opposite sides of the field. In 1991, Auburn, with assistant coach Tommy Bowden, faced Southern Mississippi, with assistant coach Jeff Bowden. Southern Mississippi upset Auburn that day. Jeff Bowden will also be at the scene this year also, as he is Florida State’s offensive coordinator.
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