Clemson can finally add another piece of hardware to it’s trophy case. The Tigers won their first bowl game since the 2005 Champs Sports Bowl with a hard fought 21-13 win over Kentucky in the Music City Bowl in Nashville, TN. The win snaps a three game bowl losing streak for the Tigers and avenges their loss to the Wildcats in the 2006 Music City Bowl. The Tigers even their all time bowl record at 16-16 with the win and finish the season at 9-5. Kenucky finishes the season at 7-6.
AUDIO: Clemson post game news conference (Swinney, Spiller, Sapp)
The Tigers led 14-10 at halftime as Kyle Parker hit Jacoby Ford with a 32 yard touchdown pass and Jamie Harper scored on a one yard run. The Cats opened the second half with a 44 yard field goal to make it 14-13 and that’s where things stood going into the 4th quarter. Clemson then got a huge break when Chester’s Gene McCaskill coughed the ball up after a reception at the Kentucky 19. Three plays later CJ Spiller turned the corner and ran in from eight yards out to give the Tigers a 21-13 cushion. The Wildcats late in the game reached the Clemson 25 but was stopped on downs. The Tigers never gave the ball back as they fed the Wildcats a steady diet of Spiller and Harper the rest of the way.
Spiller was named the game’s MVP after rushing for 67 yards and one touchdown, catching three passes for 58 yards, and returing two kicks for 47 yards. He scored a touchdown in every game this season and became the first player in ACC history to rush for 1000 yards and had over 500 yards receiving in the same season. The Tigers finished with 321 total yards to 277 for Kentucky.
AUDIO: Dabo Swinney news conference #2
AUDIO: Kevin Steele
After the game, Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said there is an 80% chance he will retire and turn the program over to head coach in waiting Joker Phillips.