ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- A monthlong layoff and an ankle injury did
little to slow down Kliff Kingsbury.
Texas Tech's Nehemiah Glover breaks away for a 46-yard TD catch.
Kingsbury became the third Division I-A player to top 5,000
yards passing in a season, throwing for 375 and three touchdowns as
Texas Tech defeated Clemson 55-15 in the Mazda Tangerine Bowl on Monday
''Five thousand yards, that's a big number,'' Kingsbury said.
''That shows how well our offense played this season.''
Texas Tech (9-5) won its first bowl game since beating Air Force
in the 1995 Copper Bowl and gave coach Mike Leach his first
Five different receivers caught touchdown passes for the Red
Raiders, and Wes Welker had a 59-yard punt return for a score.
It was the worst defeat of the season for Clemson (7-6), and the
worst in a bowl since a 41-0 defeat to Syracuse in the 1996 Gator
''I'm totally embarrassed,'' defensive tackle Nick Eason said.
''This was my last game as a Clemson Tiger, and I got destroyed. I
might have more games, in the NFL, maybe some All-Star games, but
this is one I'll always remember.''
Kingsbury, who was named the game's most valuable player, completed 32 of 43
passes and finished his career with 5,017 yards. The only other
players to reach the mark are BYU's Ty Detmer, who had 5,188 yards,
and Houston's David Klingler, who had 5,140. Both players did it in
1990. Detmer played in 12 games, Klingler 11.
''I felt like we could do some things, seeing their defensive
base package and how they lined up,'' Kingsbury said. ''I felt like
we could exploit it.''
Kingsbury left briefly in the third quarter after Clemson
defensive end Khaleed Vaughn appeared to roll onto his right leg.
Kingsbury quickly got up, but he hopped only a few yards before
falling to the turf and motioning to the training staff. He got his
ankle re-taped and jogged on the sideline without a limp, and he
returned on the next possession after approval from the trainer.
''He wasn't keeping me off the field,'' Kingsbury said. ''I was
going to get back out there.''
The Red Raiders were playing for the first time since a 60-15
defeat against Oklahoma on Nov. 23, but they went ahead 3-0 lead after
taking their opening possession 82 yards in 13 plays. It was 24-0
in the second quarter before the Tigers blocked a punt out of the
end zone for a safety and their first points.
Kingsbury was intercepted once on a poorly thrown pass in the
first quarter, but he had little problems solving Clemson's
totally embarrassed. This was my last game as a
Clemson Tiger, and I got destroyed. I might have
more games, in the NFL, maybe some All-Star games, but this is one I'll always
— Clemson's Nick Eason
He left midway through the fourth quarter but returned for the
final play with four seconds left, taking a knee to end the game.
Texas Tech punted just three times -- including the block -- and
piled up 555 yards of offense.
''We went out there and really played with a good tempo, and I
think that everybody fed off one another,'' Leach said. ''I'm proud
of the way we came down here and stuck to business.''
Charlie Whitehurst, a redshirt freshman who led the Tigers to
victories in three of their past four games after taking over as
the starting quarterback, couldn't match Kingsbury. He finished
20-for-48 for 263 yards and four interceptions after being
intercepted only twice in 166 attempts coming into the game.
Most of Whitehurst's problems were caused by a lack of
protection by his offensive line. Even when he avoided a sack he
often got hit. He left with 2:10 to go after taking a hard hit from
linebacker Geremy Woods, although Whitehurst walked off the field
on his own.
''I honestly felt sorry for Whitehurst,'' Texas Tech defensive
end Aaron Hunt said. ''We hit him shot after shot after shot. Just
like any other freshman, when you hit him, he gets rattled and
starts running around and doing crazy things.''
His receivers let him down, too, dropping at least five passes.
Late in the first half, with Clemson driving, Whitehurst threw a
perfect pass to Airese Currie at the goal line. But the ball
bounced off Currie's shoulder pads and landed in the hands of Texas
Tech safety Vincent Meeks with 31 seconds left.
After Meeks returned it 23 yards, three quick passes by
Kingsbury moved the ball into field goal range. Robert Treece
kicked a 40-yarder on the last play of the half for a 34-2 lead.
''The score's pretty embarrassing,'' Clemson coach Tommy Bowden
said. ''Games that come down to the end of the fourth quarter,
those are a little easier to take.''