Clemson just capped off one of the best season’s in school history en route to a 14-1 record with an ACC Championship, Orange Bowl win, & a berth in the national championship game. In this feature we’ll take a look back at the Top 20 plays from the memorable season starting with #5 through #1…
#5. Ben Boulware’s one handed interception caps off Orange Bowl win versus Oklahoma
Clemson had already taken control of this game with a 20 point lead, but a touchdown on this drive for the Sooners would have put Tiger fans back on alert. No need to worry as the Sooner killer himself Ben Boulware was there to put the nails in the coffin. After recording a pick six a year ago against OU, Boulware had to match that feat with an impressive one handed grab followed by what appears to be a flying ninja knee to finish it off.
#4. Wayne Gallman’s late touchdown against FSU helps Tiger wrap up the ACC Atlantic crown
Couple things to see here: 1) The right side of the line does a great job of sealing the edge. 2) LB Reggie Northrup takes himself out of the play to cover for the blitzing corner. 3) Gallman is able to run through Terrance Smith’s arm tackle in stride. 4) He then freezes LaMarcus Brutus which allows him to get into the endzone. Clemson had struggled to put points on the board all game, but the Wayne Train continued to get better as the game wore on. He then capped off his 103 yard rushing performance with this 25-yard game winner.
#3. Shaq Lawson and Ben Boulware team up to prevent FSU 4th down conversion in Clemson territory
This play gets the nod over the previous one from the same game due in part to the fact it set up the drive that eventually led to Gallman’s touchdown run. Seminoles star RB Dalvin Cook had gashed the Tiger defense early, but Brent Venables’ unit tightened up in the second half only allowing him to gain 37 yards. What’s most impressive about this play is that Shaq Lawson appears to know exactly what’s coming as he immediately shoots out to the right directly towards the toss sweep. Once outside, the TE couldn’t slow him down and he gets an arm on Cook in the backfield causing him to change directions just before Boulware comes flying in to flatten him short of the first down marker. This play was crucial in that it kept FSU off the board in a 3-point game, and it also put the ball back in the hands of Watson & Gallman. You know the rest.
#2. Andy Teasdall to Christian Wilkins sparks Clemson versus the Sooners
In a game that many expected to be a shootout, both teams didn’t exactly light it up in the first 15 minutes. Fresh off a 46-yard run early in the 2nd Quarter by Deshaun Watson, the Clemson staff felt that they couldn’t let that momentum go to waste so they decided to cook up a little trickery on 4th and 4 from the Sooners 44-yard line. Oklahoma wasn’t ready for it and the 315 pound Christian Wilkins slipped down the sidelines to catch a beautiful toss from punter Andy Teasdall. What makes this play even sweeter is that Teasdall had been in Dabo’s doghouse for his failed fake punt in the ACC Championship a few weeks before this game. This ballsy play call may not have won the game for Clemson, but it certainly helped pump some life into a team that was looking for answers in the early goings.
#1. Clemson defense steps up to thwart #6 Notre Dame’s furious 4th quarter comeback in the downpour
Top 15 matchup. College GameDay. Sold out crowd. Torrential downpour. This contest had all the makings of an instant classic, and it surely delivered. Clemson built an early two touchdown lead on their first two drives and stretched their lead to 18 early in the 2nd half before the Irish began their ferocious 4th Quarter comeback. With 7 seconds left in regulation Notre Dame capped off a 19-point final quarter with a beautiful back corner touchdown pass from DeShone Kizer. That score set up the impending two point conversion attempt to force overtime. On the play you’ll see Kevin Dodd shoot out to the left, preventing Kizer from getting to the perimeter. In the middle Carlos Watkins slides to the left against a double team, but maintains his position on the line of scrimmage. Eventually those two Clemson linemen meet back up, along with a slew of other bodies, to stop Kizer short of the goal line. This win catapulted Clemson from #12 to #6 in the polls, and gave the Tigers a marquee top 10 win that would prove vital in the upcoming CFB Playoff rankings.