Nov. 25, 2003
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Clemson announced Tuesday that it has accepted an invitation to play in the 36th Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in the Georgia Dome at Atlanta, GA on January 2, 2004 at 4:30 PM. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN. The Tigers’ opponent in the game will be a team from the Southeastern Conference, which will be announced at a later date.
This will be Clemson’s 27th bowl appearance and sixth appearance in the Peach Bowl. The only bowl in which the Tigers have made more appearances is the Gator Bowl (8). Clemson’s last appearance in the Peach Bowl was at the end of the 1999 season. In that game, Mississippi State defeated the Tigers 17-7 in Head Coach Tommy Bowden’s first season at Clemson. The Tigers also made Peach Bowl appearances during the 1979 (24-18 loss to Baylor), 1993 (14-13 win over Kentucky), 1996 (10-7 loss to Louisiana State), and 1997 (21-17 loss to Auburn) seasons.
Clemson has a 13-13 all-time record in bowl games. It will be the Tigers’ 16th bowl appearance since 1985, a 19-year period. The Tigers finished the 2003 regular season with a 5-3 record in conference play. The Tigers will finish in third place with a Maryland win over Wake Forest and tied for second with the Terrapins if the Demon Deacons defeat the Terrapins this weekend.
Led by Bowden, the first coach in history to take a team to a bowl game in his first five seasons at an ACC school, Clemson has continued to break school records. Among them are most passing yards (3,441) in a season by a team and most by a player (Charlie Whitehurst – 3,315). Whitehurst has also tied the school record for touchdown passes (21) in a season. Wide receiver Derrick Hamilton also broke the school record for touchdown catches (10), while First-Team All-ACC linebacker LeRoy Hill has 25 tackles for loss, a top-four mark in Tiger history. Placekicker Aaron Hunt broke the career scoring mark and Hamilton eclipsed the career all-purpose running mark as well.
The Tigers have been one of the hottest teams in the nation, winning their last three games by a combined score of 129-34, including a 26-10 win over #3 Florida State and 63-17 victory over South Carolina. The win over the Seminoles was Clemson’s highest-ever ranked win. The Tigers also defeated #24 Virginia 30-27 in overtime earlier in the season.
The 2003 team has shown improvement both from last season and over the course of the season. The Tigers have averaged over 422 yards per game of total offense, and rank 17th in the nation in passing yards per game. The Tiger defense has also been outstanding, allowing under 20 points per game (25th in the nation) and under 330 yards per game (27th in the nation). Perhaps Clemson’s strongest facet of the defense has been the secondary. The Tigers have led the ACC in pass defense (189.5 yards per game), a top-20 mark in the country. Clemson also is second in the nation in kickoff returns, averaging 27.7 yards per return).
Whitehurst, a sophomore from the Atlanta area, is 14th in the nation in total offense per game (281.3) and second among non juniors and seniors. The Honorable Mention All-ACC quarterback has been a model of consistency, passing between 265 and 331 yards in 10 of the 12 games. Hamilton has also been a valuable performer. He leads the ACC in all-purpose yards per game (131.5), accumulating 88 yards rushing, 957 on 57 catches, 153 yards on punt returns, and 380 on just 11 kickoff returns. Hamilton would lead the nation in yards per kickoff return if he had four more returns.
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