Clemson enshrined former football coach Danny Ford in the Ring of Honor Saturday night (along with late baseball coach Bill Wilhelm), and the timing could not have been better. Ford scored some of his most dramatic wins over Georgia back when the rivalry was red hot. Conference expansion and scheduling issues effectively killed off the rivalry such that last night’s showdown in Death Valley was the first since 2003. Before last night, the Tigers had not defeated the Bulldogs since 1990. Last night’s victory snapped a five game losing streak by Clemson to Georgia.
So, there were plenty of great moments for the Tigers to enjoy last night. Tajh Boyd was outstanding running the offense and distributing the football. Sammy Watkins displayed his rare talent when given the chance. Rod McDowell proved he can carry the running game. And the defense was just good enough.
McDowell rushed for a career high 132 yards averaging 6 yards per carry. Boyd added 42 yards on42 carries. Watkins caught 6 passes for 127 yards including a 77 yard touchdown in which he took a short pass, broke a tackle and was off to the races. Charone Peake, in one of the best games of his career, had 5 catches for 58 yards with a long of 25.
Clemson post game notes:
- Team Notes
- Clemson is the first non-SEC team in NCAA history to defeat two top-10 SEC opponents in back-to-back games.
- It was the first Clemson win against Georgia since 1990 when the Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 34-3 at Memorial Stadium. Georgia had won five straight games entering tonight’s matchup.
- Fifth-ranked Georgia is the third-highest ranked team that Clemson has defeated in its history.
- With a halftime score of 21-21, it was just the second time in the Clemson-Georgia series that both teams scored at least 21 first-half points. The other came in 1986 when the two were also tied at 21 at the half.
- A total of 73 combined points were scored in tonight’s game. That is the most combined points in a game in the history of the Clemson-Georgia series. The previous record was 59 combined points in both 1986 and 2002.
- Clemson’s 38 points are the second-most scored against Georgia in its history. The most points ever scored against Georgia were 39 in 1900, when the Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 39-5.
- The Tigers’ 38 points also tied for the most scored in Clemson history against a top-five opponent. Clemson also scored 38 points against No. 3 Virginia Tech in the 2011 ACC Championship game.
- The 38 points are the most ever for a Clemson team against a ranked opponent in a season opener. The previous high was 28 at Georgia in 2002 when the Tigers fell to the eight-ranked Bulldogs.
- Clemson has now won back-to-back openers against ranked opponents and four of the last five season openers against ranked foes.
- Clemson is undefeated when scoring at least 30 points against Georgia (7-0).
- Clemson is now 2-0 when ESPN College Game Day is on campus.
- Tonight’s attendance was 83,830, which ranks as the 11th best attendance in Memorial Stadium history. It is the largest crowd ever for a Clemson-Georgia game at Memorial Stadium.
- Individual Notes
- Tajh Boyd tallied 270 yards passing and 42 yards rushing for 312 yards of total offense, a Clemson season-opener record. The previous record for a season opener was 303 yards by Charlie Whitehurst against Wake Forest in 2004.
- Boyd passed for three touchdowns and rushed for two touchdowns to give him 94 touchdowns accounted for in his career. It was just third time in his career that he had multiple rushing touchdowns in a game.
- With the win, Boyd now has 22 wins as a starting quarterback. That ties him with Homer Jordan for fourth place in Clemson history in wins by a starting quarterback. Jordan was at tonight’s game as one of Clemson’s honorary captains.
- Boyd has led the Tigers to seven wins over top-25 teams during his career as the starting quarterback.
- Roderick McDowell had 22 carries for a career-high 132 rushing yards in his first career start. McDowell also had one reception, the sixth of his career, for 10 yards.
- Sammy Watkins’ 77-yard touchdown reception from Boyd in the first quarter was the longest reception of Watkins’s career and the longest pass of Boyd’s career.
- Watkins finished the game with six receptions for 127 receiving yards. It was the eighth 100-yard receiving game of Watkins’s career.
- Vic Beasley recorded a team-high two sacks in tonight’s game. It was third multiple sack of his career.
- Charone Peake recorded five receptions for a career-high 58 receiving yards.
- Zac Brooks recorded the first touchdown reception of his career in the third quarter on a 31-yard pass from Boyd. It was just the fourth reception of his career. Brooks also carried the ball three times for 20 yards.