Clemson vs. Auburn Chick-fil-A Bowl Game Notes

Dec. 27, 2007

Complete Clemson vs. Auburn Football Game Notes

Clemson to Meet Auburn in Chick-fil-A Bowl Clemson will meet Auburn on December 31, 2007 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA. The contest will kick off at 7:30 PM and will be nationally televised by ESPN.

The game will be a battle of top 25 opponents. Clemson is ranked 15th by the Associated Press and 16th by the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, while Auburn is 22nd by Associated Press and 21st by ESPN/USA Today. Clemson is 15th in the BCS rankings, its highest since 2000 when it was also 15th.

This will be the first meeting between Clemson and Auburn since the, January 2, 1998 Chick-fil-A Bowl, a game won by Auburn, 21-17. Terry Bowden, Tommy Bowden’s brother, was the head coach for Auburn in that game. With the victory, Auburn achieved a 10-victory season. Now, Clemson and Tommy Bowden’s can achieve a 10-win season with a victory in the same bowl game 10 years later.

Overall, it will be Clemson’s 30th bowl appearance in history, its seventh appearance in the Chick-fil-A. Clemson last appeared in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in January of 2004 when it defeated a sixth-ranked Tennessee team 27-14. Clemson has a 15-14 overall bowl record, including a 2-4 mark in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

“We are very excited to play in the 2007 Chick-Fil-A Bowl,” said Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden’s. “There is a lot of history between these two schools dating to the early days of both schools’ football programs. Clemson and Auburn take great pride in their football programs and traditions. I know that personally because I have coached at both schools. It should be a terrific college football game and great atmosphere.”

This will be the third time Tommy Bowden’s has taken Clemson to the Chick-fil-A bowl. In addition to the victory over sixth-ranked Tennessee in 2004, he took the Tigers to the 1999 event, a game that resulted in a loss to Mississippi State.

Overall, this will be the eighth bowl trip for the Tigers under Bowden. He will tie Danny Ford for the most bowl game appearances in school history. It will also be the third most bowl appearances for any ACC coach in history. His father, Bobby Bowden will make a record 16th bowl appearance as an ACC coach this year.

Tommy Bowden’s served as an assistant coach at Auburn from 1991-96. Auburn was 36-9-1 over his last three seasons at Auburn. In 1997 he became the head coach at Tulane, so Auburn was Tommy Bowden’s last stop as an assistant coach.

This will be a special game for four Clemson starters who are from the Atlanta, GA area. First-team All-ACC running back James Davis is from Atlanta, GA and first-team All-ACC receiver Aaron Kelly is from Marietta, GA. Clemson starting quarterback Cullen Harper, the top ranked passer in the ACC this year, is from Alpharetta, GA, while starting place kicker Mark Buchholz, the leading scorer in the ACC, is also from Alpharetta.

Clemson enters the contest with a 9-3 record, including a 5-3 mark in the Atlantic Division of the ACC. The Tigers have played well away from home this year, posting a 4-1 road record, best for the program since 1997. A victory in the Chick-fil-A Bowl would give the Tigers a 10-win season for the first time since 1990.

Auburn, coached by Tommy Tuberville, finished the regular season with an 8-4 record. The Tigers were 5-3 in the Southeastern Conference, including wins over Florida, Arkansas and Alabama. The teams did not have a common opponent this year.

Both Clemson and Auburn enter the Chick-fil-A Bowl coming off victories over their in-state rivals. The Tigers defeated South Carolina, 23-21, on November 24th on a 35-yard field goal by Mark Buchholz on the last play of the game, while Auburn defeated Alabama, 17-10, on the same day.

Both teams have been outstanding on defense this year. In fact, both are ranked in the top 10 in the nation in total defense and scoring defense. Clemson is sixth in total defense, allowing just 297 yards per game, while Auburn is eighth at 298 yards per game. Auburn is sixth in scoring defense, allowing 16.7 points per game, while Clemson is 10th in scoring defense, allowing 18.3 points per game. Clemson is also in the top 20 in rushing defense and pass defense. Auburn is sixth in pass defense and 27th in rushing defense.

Clemson had four players named first-team All-ACC, all on offense. The Tigers are the only ACC team to rank first or second in the ACC in rushing offense, scoring offense and passing offense in 2007.

Aaron Kelly led the ACC in reception yards per game and was named first-team All-ACC in 2007. He has 84 receptions entering the bowl game, already a Clemson single season record, for 1045 yards. He needs just 40 receiving yards against Auburn to break Rod Gardner’s single season record of 1084 set in 1999. Gardner completed his season that year against Mississippi State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Kelly had 11 receiving touchdowns, first in the ACC and already a Clemson single season record.

James Davis is the top rusher with 992 yards and a 5.2 average. The junior from Atlanta is tied for second in Clemson history in career rushing with 3058 yards. He is coming off a 122-yard performance against South Carolina in the season finale. He had 150 yards rushing against Colorado in the 2005 Champs Sports Bowl, the second most rushing yards in a bowl game in Clemson history.

Quarterback Cullen Harper was the second team All-ACC quarterback this year. He threw for 27 touchdown passes, a single season Clemson record, and had just six interceptions. He ranks 17th in the nation in passing efficiency. He needs just 113 passing yards to join Charlie Whitehurst as the only quarterbacks in Clemson history to throw for 3000 yards in a season. Harper has established 21 Clemson single season records this year.

The offensive line is led by first-team All-ACC players Barry Richardson and Chris McDuffie. Richardson has started 44 consecutive games and will be making his third start in a bowl game. McDuffie leads the team in knockdown blocks.

Clemson’s defense is led in tackles by Nick Watkins with 118 stops. Michael Hamlin was second-team All-ACC as a safety and had 83 tackles to go with a team best six takeaways. He also led the team in passes defensed with 10. Phillip Merling finished the season very strong and had a team best 16 tackles for loss, including a team best six sacks. He had 73 tackles overall and was an honorable mention All-ACC selection.

Auburn has dominated the series between the two schools, holding a 32-11-2 advantage. Auburn has won each of the lat 12 meetings. Clemson has not defeated Auburn since a 34-0 win at Clemson in 1951, but the two schools have met just once since 1971. Each of Clemson’s first three head coaches were Auburn graduates, including the first coach, Walter Riggs, a 1893 Auburn grad.

The two schools are schedule to play a home and home series in 2010 and 2011. The 2010 game is schedule for Auburn and the 2011 game is schedule to be played at Clemson.

Four Tigers Named First-team All-ACC Clemson junior running back James Davis, junior wide receiver Aaron Kelly, senior offensive guard Chris McDuffie, and senior offensive tackle Cullen Harper and junior cornerback Michael Hamlin were also second-team selections, while Phillip Merling (DE), Dorell Scott (DT), and C.J. Spiller (Specialist) each received honorable mention honors.

Davis (Atlanta, GA) has rushed for 992 yards in 12 games, good for an average of 82.7 yard per contest. He is averaging 5.2 yards per carry and has scored nine rushing touchdowns. In his three-year career at Clemson, he has rushed for 3,058 yards and 35 rushing touchdowns. It is the second straight year that Davis has been named First-Team All-ACC, the first Tiger running back to do that since Terry Allen (1987,88).

Kelly (Marietta, GA) has already set the school record for receptions in a season with 84. He also has 1,045 receiving yards and a Tiger-record 11 receiving touchdowns. His first-team selection gives the Tigers a first-team All-ACC wideout for four consecutive seasons. He needs just 40 receiving yards against Auburn to establish a single season record in that category.

McDuffie (Danville, VA) and Richardson (Mount Pleasant, SC) are two big reasons the Tigers are in the top three in the ACC in almost every offensive category. McDuffie, originally a defensive lineman at Clemson, has helped pave the way for Davis and Spiller to rush for a combined 1,648 yards this season.

Richardson, who is in his fourth year as a starter, has been the Tigers’ top-graded offensive lineman this season with a season’s average of 87 percent. Richardson was a First-Team All-ACC pick in 2006 as well. Both McDuffie and Richardson have helped protect Harper, who has also set numerous school records.

Harper (Alpharetta, GA) has completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,887 yards and a school-record 27 touchdown passes against only six interceptions. His 146.9 pass efficiency rating is the third-best in Clemson history, while his 2,887 passing yards are second-most in Tiger history. He also has accounted for 30 total touchdowns, second in Clemson history behind the 31 recorded by Woody Dantzler in 2001.

Hamlin (Timmonsville, SC) is the Tigers’ lone defensive All-ACC selection, as he has led the Tigers to a #6 national ranking in total defense. For the season, he has a team-tying-high four interceptions and 83 tackles along with two recovered fumbles to give him a team-best six takeaways.

Clemson’s six total selections tied for fourth-most among league members, trailing only Georgia Tech’s eight All-ACC selections, and Boston College’s and Virginia Tech’s seven. Wake Forest (5), North Carolina (4), Virginia (4), Florida State (3), Maryland (3), Miami (2), N.C. State (2), and Duke (1) were also represented on the All-ACC team. Clemson’s four first-team selections only trailed Georgia Tech’s five first-team selections as well.

Clemson had the most first-team selections on offense with four. It marked the second straight season that Clemson had four First-Team All-ACC picks on offense.

Clemson Looks for 10th Victory One of the biggest motivators for this Clemson team entering the Chick-fil-A Bowl with Auburn is to get a 10th victory on the 2007 season. Clemson has not won 10 games in a year since 1990 when Ken Hatfield had a 10-2 record after the Tigers defeated Illinois in the Hall of Fame Bowl in Tampa, FL. Clemson has won nine games in a year five times since, including this year, but has never reached the 10-win mark.

This is just the second time Clemson has won nine games in the regular season since 1992. Clemson had nine wins in the regular season in 2000, but lost in the Gator Bowl to Virginia Tech. Clemson won nine games in 1993 and 2003, but the ninth wins came in bowl games.

The Clemson record for wins in a season is 12, set in 1981 when Clemson won the National Championship with a 12-0 record. The 1948 and 1978 teams won 11 games.

Most Wins in a Season
Rank Year Wins
1. 1981 12-0
2. 1948 11-0
  1978 11-1
4. 1987 10-2
  1988 10-2
  1989 10-2
  1990 10-2
8. 1939 9-1
  1950 9-0-1
  1982 9-1-1
  1983 9-1-1
  1959 9-2
  1991 9-2-1
  2000 9-3
  2007 9-3
  2003 9-4