Note: The following appears in the Furman gameday football program
Today is a special day for members of four Clemson teams as they return to campus for reunions with their teammates. Members of the 50-year, 25-year, 10-year and five-year anniversary teams are in Death Valley for today’s game.
The teams of 1968, 1993, 2008 and 2013 all had something in common. All four squads had various forms of challenges, but all four made improvement and finished strong. The 1968 team started 0-3-1, then won four of the last six contests. The 1993 squad won five of its last six games to finish in the top 25 with a 9-3 record.
The 2008 team started 3-3, then won four of its last five regular-season games to earn a trip to the Gator Bowl. After a 51-14 loss at midseason to Florida State, the 2013 Tigers rallied to play in the Orange Bowl and finished 11-2.
• As usual under head coach Frank Howard, the Tigers played a tough non-conference schedule, losing to Georgia, Auburn and Alabama. All three ended the season in the top 20, including Georgia at No. 4.• The Tigers made quite a run at the end of the season and finished 4-1-1 in the ACC (second place). Clemson defeated ACC champion NC State 24-19 on the road, the only ACC team to defeat the Wolfpack that year.• Buddy Gore (776) and Ray Yauger (760) each had at least 760 rushing yards, the first time Clemson had two 700-yard rushers on one team. It would not happen again until 1983.• Gore, Joe Lhotsky (OT), Ronnie Ducworth (DE), John Cagle (DT) and Jimmy Catoe (LB) all earned First-Team All-ACC honors.• Richie Luzzi returned a missed field goal 108 yards for a touchdown at Georgia for what is still the longest play in Tiger history.
• Clemson utilized four quarterbacks throughout the year, but it found a way to put together a 9-3 record under head coach Ken Hatfield. The Tigers finished No. 22 in the coaches poll.• Stacy Seegars earned first-team All-America honors as an offensive guard for the second straight year, while Brentson Buckner was a First-Team All-ACC selection as a defensive tackle. He went on to a long NFL career.• The Tigers used a strong defense to total five victories by seven points or less, including a 16-13 win at South Carolina and a 14-13 victory over Kentucky in the Peach Bowl. Clemson held nine of the 12 opponents to 14 points or less.• The Tigers had two wins over top-25 teams, a 20-14 victory over No. 24 NC State and a 23-14 win over No. 18 Virginia. Terry Smith became Clemson’s all-time leader in receiving yards in that game.
• The 10-year anniversary team had a tumultuous season. The Tigers were ranked in the preseason poll, but they lost the opener to Alabama, who was in its second season under Nick Saban. That team proved to be much better than its No. 24 preseason ranking.• That late season run included a 31-14 win over South Carolina and hall of fame head coach Steve Spurrier. The win gave the Tigers a Gator Bowl invitation. The Monday after the game, Swinney was named permanent head coach.• Michael Hamlin and C.J. Spiller both earned First-Team All-ACC honors. Hamlin finished 11th in the nation in interceptions. James Davis finished his career with 3,881 rushing yards, second most in school history.
• Clemson had one of the nation’s most exciting teams and finished 11-2 with a No. 7 ranking in the coaches poll.• Clemson opened with a 38-35 home win over No. 5 Georgia. The win gave the Tigers consecutive wins over top-10 SEC squads, the first non-SEC team to do that. Tajh Boyd accounted for five touchdowns in the game.• The Tigers finished the year with a 40-35 win over Ohio State in the Orange Bowl, Clemson’s first major bowl victory since 1981. Sammy Watkins set Orange Bowl records for receptions (16) and receiving yards (227), while Tajh Boyd had 505 total yards, including 127 rushing yards. It was Boyd’s 32nd career win, tying the Tiger record.• Vic Beasley and Sammy Watkins were both first-team All-Americans.