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Clemson vs. Kentucky Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl Game Notes

Dec. 21, 2009

Complete Game Notes

Clemson to Play Kentucky in Music City Bowl 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 is the only player in the FBS to score at least one touchdown in every game this year. The consensus first-team All-American 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 freshmen 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 15.

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).

Clemson Bowl History Clemson has a rich bowl tradition and one of the reasons has been Clemson’s historical success against schools with legendary football traditions. The list of schools Clemson has beaten in bowl games includes five of the top 10 winningest programs in the history of FBS Division football: Nebraska (4th), Ohio State (5th), Penn State (6th), Oklahoma (8th) and Tennessee (9th).

The program has 15 bowl victories, the 18th highest total in FBS history. Nine of the 15 bowl victories have come against coaches who are in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Of course, Clemson’s greatest bowl experience was the National Championship clinching victory over Nebraska in the 1982 Orange Bowl. The Tigers were ranked number-one in the nation entering that contest and faced a fourth-ranked Nebraska team and Coach Osborne. Danny Ford led the Tigers to a 22-15 victory to give the Tigers the national title and made him the youngest (33) coach of a national championship team in college football history. He still holds that distinction.

Clemson’s first bowl game was in the 1940 Cotton Bowl when the Tigers defeated Frank Leahy and Boston College, 6-3. Clemson won its first three bowl games, victories over Boston College, Missouri, and Miami (FL). The three coaches Clemson defeated in those games were Frank Leahy, Don Faurot, and Andy Gustafson, and all three are in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Clemson has a football program that has been steady over the years in bowl games, no matter who has led the program as head coach. No less than six different head coaches (Danny Ford, Ken Hatfield, Tommy West, and Tommy Bowden) have won bowl games for the Tigers. Dabo Swinney will try to join that group with a victory over Kentucky.

Overall, nine of Clemson’s 15 bowl victories have come against coaches who are in the College Football Hall of Fame. That includes Joe Paterno,. Clemson has four bowl victories over coaches who are in the 200-victory club. Woody Hayes of Ohio State, Tom Osborne of Nebraska, Joe Paterno and Don Nehlen of West Virginia are all coaches with at least 200 wins who lost bowl games to Clemson.

Milestones in Range, Streaks • C.J. Spiller needs one punt or kickoff return for a touchdown to establish the NCAA career record for kick returns for touchdowns. He has seven kickoff returns for score (already the NCAA record) and one punt return for a total of eight. He has tied a record held by many.

• Spiller needs 349 all-purpose running yards to establish the NCAA mark for career all-purpose running. He has 7416 and the record is 7764 by Brandon West of Western Michigan, a senior on the Broncos team this year.

• CJ Spiller needs one touchdown to establish the Clemson career record and three to establish the ACC record. Travis Zachery and Spiller have the Clemson record with 50 apiece, while the ACC record is 52 by Wali Lundy of Virginia.

• Spiller needs just one touchdown to set the Clemson record for consecutive games with a touchdown. He has scored a touchdown in every game this year, the only player in the nation to do that, for a 13-game streak. Spiller and Travis Zachery hold the Clemson mark with 13 in a row. Zachery did his over two seasons (2000-01).

• Spiller needs 55 receiving yards to become the first player in ACC history to reach 1000 yards rushing and 500 receiving in the same season. He already has 1,145 rushing yards and has 445 receiving entering the bowl game.

• DeAndre McDaniel needs one interception to establish the Clemson season record for interceptions. He has eight and is the co-holder of the record at the moment. McDaniel needs three tackles to reach 200 for his career.

• Kyle Parker needs 115 passing yards to reach 2500 for his first season.

• Jacoby Ford has caught at least one pass in 28 consecutive games he has played. He needs 58 receiving yards to reach 2000 for his career. He needs eight rushing yards to reach 500 for his career and 21 punt return yards to reach 500.

• Brandon Maye needs 10 tackles to reach 200 for his career.

• Sunday will mark Chris Chancellor’s 42nd consecutive start at cornerback. It will be Crezdon Butler’s 40th consecutive start at the opposite cornerback.

• Da’Quan Bowers needs one tackle to reach 100 for his career.

• Kavell Conner needs two tackles to reach 300 for his career.

• Crezdon Butler’s needs 33 interception return yards to become Clemson’s career leader.

• Thomas Austin has started 35 straight games in the offensive line.

• Clemson team needs to score just 16 points to establish school record for points in a season. Tigers have 415 so far. The team needs five touchdowns to set school mark for touchdowns in a season. Tigers have 51 so far.

• Clemson team has seven returns for touchdowns this year, tied for the single season record with the 1990 team. Another return for a touchdown will establish a school record for one season.

Top Accomplishments of Senior Class (19 players) • Led Clemson to first Atlantic Division championship in 2009 with a 6-2 league record.

• Seniors on first Clemson team to beat Florida State and Miami (FL) in the same year. This class finished with a 3-1 record against Florida State, tying for the most wins by a class against the Seminoles.

• Gained two road wins over top 10 teams, a win at ninth-ranked Florida State in 2006 and eighth-ranked Miami (FL) in 2009. The win at Miami tied for the highest ranked team Clemson has beaten on the road in its history.

• The group has 32 wins in the bank in 52 games.

• Has been to a bowl every year and will make it four years in a row this year.

• Has been ranked at some point in each of the four seasons. That includes a top 25 ranking in 32 different polls over the last four years.

• Defeated Georgia Tech 31-7 at Clemson in 2006 in the first ESPN Gameday appearance on the Clemson campus.