Today’s first bowl game, TaxSlayer Bowl from Jacksonville, #22 Clemson against Kentucky, 12 Noon on ESPN

By Chris Coopersmith






Clemson will make its 10th all-time Gator Bowl appearance, its most of any bowl in school history. Clemson’s Gator Bowl tradition dates to the Tigers’ perfect 11-0 season in 1948, as Southern Conference champion Clemson completed its undefeated season with a 24-23 win against Missouri in a matchup of College Football Hall of Fame coaches Frank Howard and Don Faurot.

A win in the contest would even Clemson’s all-time Gator Bowl record at 5-5, including victories to conclude the 1948, 1978, 1986 and 1989 seasons. This year’s game will represent Clemson’s first appearance in the annual postseason contest in Jacksonville since New Year’s Day in 2009 in what was Dabo Swinney’s first bowl game as head coach after being elevated to the head coaching position earlier that season.

The game will be the 14th all-time game between Clemson and Kentucky dating to the programs’ first meeting as Southern Conference foes in 1925. Each of the last three meetings in the series have come in postseason play, with Clemson earning a 14-13 Peach Bowl win in 1993 and the teams splitting a pair of Music City Bowls in 2006 (a 28-20 Kentucky win) and 2009 (a 21-13 Clemson win).

The bowl berth extends Clemson’s school-record bowl streak to 19 years, the longest streak in the ACC and the fifth-longest streak in the country. Clemson’s 19-year streak dates to its Champs Sports Bowl win against Colorado to close the 2005 season. Though Clemson did not make a bowl appearance in 2004, Clemson has been bowl eligible in 25 consecutive seasons, dating to a 1999 appearance in the Peach Bowl.