Clemson has won their first Orange Bowl since the 1981 season.
Dabo has joined Frank Howard and Danny Ford as the only Clemson coaches to win an Orange Bowl. Tajh Boyd joins Billy Hair and Homer Jordan as the only Clemson QBs to accomplish the feat. Sammy Watkins totaled 227 receiving yards en route to setting a new Orange Bowl record. He leaves Clemson (assuming he declares for the NFL draft) with the school record for career receptions and yardage. He is the greatest wide receiver in school history and wowed the nation on a big stage for a finale. Tajh Boyd exits stage with the most wins by a Clemson QB in school history (tied with Rodney Williams). Things may get rough without them and some of the other great juniors and seniors who depart, but for now let’s just enjoy this tremendous victory.
After the 2011 season ended with the embarrassing loss to West Virginia, I wrote an article about good teams getting better after crushing losses. I cited the 2008 Lakers getting drubbed by the Boston Celtics only to get better and capture two NBA championships shortly thereafter. I also argued the goal for the program needed to jump from winning the conference (remember, FSU wasn’t nearly this good back then) to not only getting to a BCS bowl and being satisfied, but winning one.
Recently we’ve heard Dabo talk about his speech following that ugly 2011 Orange Bowl. He told the team it had been 30 year between Orange Bowls (’81 and ’11), but it sure wasn’t going to be another 30 years. He came through on that promise, by going 22-4 since then. Just two years later, in the last year of the BCS, Dabo’s Tigers captured their first ever BCS bowl. The Tigers will end the season ranked in the top 10 (~9th) and for the first time Clemson has back-to-back 11-win seasons.
Like the last time Clemson beat Ohio State–back in the 1978 Gator Bowl to cap off an 11-win season and give Danny Ford his first win–this win against Ohio State proved one thing, Clemson has re-emerged as an elite national program.