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Tigers Win Fiesta Bowl

Tigers Win Fiesta Bowl

GLENDALE, ARIZ. – No. 2 Clemson jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 31-0 victory over No. 3 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on Saturday. The Tigers, who improved to 13-1, handed Buckeye head coach Urban Meyer his first shutout loss. It was also the highest-ranked team Clemson has ever defeated, as Ohio State was ranked No. 2 in the AP and coaches polls.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson and defensive end Clelin Ferrell earned MVP honors. Watson, the Offensive MVP, was 23-36 passing for 259 yards and a touchdown. The junior also had 57 yards and two scores on 15 carries. Wayne Gallman added 85 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Ferrell ignited a dominant performance by the Tiger defense, who limited Ohio State to just 215 total yards. Ferrell had three tackles for loss and a sack.

Ohio State missed two field goals in the first quarter, while Greg Huegel connected on a 45-yard field goal in the first quarter. Watson scored on a one-yard rush later in the first quarter, then Watson hit C.J. Fuller on a “wheel route” for a 30-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Clemson closed the scoring with Watson’s seven-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and Gallman’s seven-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

The Tigers advanced to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game against No. 1 Alabama at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on January 9 at 8 p.m.

Postgame Notes


  • Clemson improves to 13-1 for the season and advances to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game for the second straight year.
  • Eleven of Clemson’s 13 wins this year came over teams playing in bowl games and 10 over teams with a winning record.
  • Clemson is just the fourth ACC team to record 13 wins in a season. The others to do it are the Clemson team last year (14-1), and Florida State teams of 2013 (14-0) and 2014 (13-1).
  • This will be Clemson’s third appearance in what would be considered a National Championship Game. The Tigers defeated Nebraska 22-15 at the 1982 Orange Bowl to win the National title. Last year Clemson lost to Alabama 45-40 in the College Football Playoff National Championship game.
  • The 13 victories by the Tigers this year are the second most in school history. The only season with more took place last year when Clemson finished 14-1.
  • Clemson is now 27-2 over the last two years and 30-2 over its last 32 games dating to the 2014 season.
  • The last time Clemson lost just two games in a 32-game period was the 1980-84 era when Clemson was 28-2-2 over a 32- game period under Danny Ford. Clemson actually reached a 33-2-2 record over a 37-game period under Ford in that era.
  • Clemson is now 3-0 against Ohio State in its history and all three victories have come in bowl games. Ohio State was ranked in the top 20 in all three games.
  • Clemson is the only team with a winning record over Notre Dame (2-1), Ohio State (3-0) and Oklahoma (3-2). Dabo Swinney is now 5-0 against those programs, all in the last four years. Four of the five victories were over top 10 teams, including the second ranked (AP) Buckeyes today.
  • With Ohio State entering this game with a No. 2 ranking by AP and USA Today coaches poll, this is the highest ranked team Clemson has defeated in its history.
  • Urban Meyer is now 61-6 at Ohio State. Two of the six losses are to Clemson and head coach Dabo Swinney. Meyer has just three bowl losses in his career and two of them are to Swinney’s Tigers.
  • Meyer suffered his first shutout loss in 194 games as a head coach.
  • Clemson’s shutout was its third of the season and sixth since Brent Venables became defensive coordinator in 2012.
  • It was Clemson’s second shutout in a bowl game ever. The first was 30-0 against Illinois in the 1990 Hall of Fame Bowl.
  • Clemson’s senior class won its 48th game today. The class is now 48-6 over the last four years. It already had the all-time wins record before this game.
  • The Tigers scored four touchdowns to give them 73 on the season, eclipsing last year’s squad for most touchdowns (71) in a single season.
  • Clemson had 11 tackles for loss in Saturday’s game, upping its season total to 123. It is the third-highest season total in school history.


  • Head Coach Dabo Swinney won his 11th game against a top 10 team in his career, most in school history among coaches. He is now 11-5 against top 10 teams. He has 19 wins over top-25 teams, one behind Danny Ford for the all-time Clemson record.
  • Swinney has now won a bowl game over a school led by a coach who already has a national championship on his resume for the fifth consecutive year (Miles, LSU, 2012, Meyer, Ohio State, 2013, Stoops, Oklahoma, 2014, Stoops, Oklahoma 2015, Meyer, Ohio State, 2016). He is the only coach in college football history to accomplish that feat.
  • Swinney now has an opportunity to become the first coach in college football history to finish with the same or higher ranking in the AP final poll compared to the preseason poll for a sixth straight year. Swinney, Bill Snyder of Kansas State and John Cooper of Ohio State are the only coaches to do it five years in a row.
  • Swinney has coached the Tigers to a bowl win in each of the last five seasons.
  • Deshaun Watson is now 31-3 as Clemson’s starting quarterback dating to the 2014 season, his freshman year. A victory in the National Championship game would give him a tie for the all-time record for total victories as a Clemson starting quarterback. Rodney Williams was 32-10-2 as Clemson starter between 1985-88 and Tajh Boyd, Watson’s predecessor, was 32-8 between 2010-13.
  • This was Watson’s eighth career win over a top 25 team, his fifth over a top 10 team. He has now tied Tajh Boyd for the most wins by a starting quarterback in both categories.  Boyd had eight top 25 wins, including five top 10 from 2010-13.
  • Watson scored two rushing touchdowns, giving him three for his career in the College Football Playoff (had one against Oklahoma last year), and 25 overall in his career.
  • Watson was named Most Valuable Player for a second straight College Football Playoff semifinal. He won the honor in the 2015 Orange Bowl against Oklahoma as well. He finished with 316 yards of total offense.
  • Wayne Gallman scored one rushing touchdown, the 33rd of his career. He passed C.J. Spiller and tied Andre Ellington for third in Clemson history in career rushing scores.
  • C.J. Fuller caught his second career touchdown pass, both coming in the last three games. He had one in the regular season finale against South Carolina.
  • Clelin Ferrell produced three tackles for loss, including a sack, Saturday. Ferrell’s total was a career high in terms of tackles for loss. Ferrell was named Defensive Most Valuable Player.
  • Carlos Watkins recorded a sack, extending Clemson’s streak to 44 consecutive games with at least one.
  • Watkins had two sacks to give him 10.5 for the season, most by a Tiger defensive tackle in history. The previous high was 10 by Jim Stuckey (1979), William Perry (1984) and Michael Dean Perry (1987).
  • Cordrea Tankersley posted his fourth interception of the game and ninth of his career in the third quarter. It was his third in the last two games alone.
  • Van Smith recorded his second interception of the season and returned it 86 yards, longest by a Clemson player since Rex Varn had a 94-yard return in 1978 against NC State. It was the fifth-longest interception return in Clemson history.
  • Andy Teasdall booted a career-long 67-yard punt in the second quarter. It matched the longest in a bowl game in Clemson history, tying Banks McFadden’s 67-yarder in the 1940 Cotton Bowl.