7:45 PM ET, November 8, 2003
Memorial Stadium (Clemson, SC), Clemson, SC
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -- Bobby Bowden searched out his son among Clemson fans calling "Tommy!, Tommy!" and told him what Tommy's first victory in the Bowden Bowl -- and the Tigers first win ever over a top three team -- would mean down the road.
"I told him his job ought to be good for another five days," Bowden said.
Seminoles QB Chris Rix completed 16-of-31 passes for 194 yards and two interceptions against Clemson.
"Yeah, that's about right these days," Tommy said, smiling.
The younger Bowden capped a week of wild rumors and speculation about his job security with a 26-10 win over his father and No. 3 Florida State on Saturday night.
And while Papa Bowden chastised the Seminoles (8-2, 6-1 ACC) for their poor play and foolish mistakes, he saved his strongest comments for those who want to fire his son.
"I'd like to see Tommy succeed here and, if he doesn't, I think he'll succeed somewhere else," said Bowden, major college football's all-time victories leader at 340. "I think he's got the stuff."
Tommy was four games ahead of Bobby through 80 games, 52 wins to 48, coming into this one. And No. 81 proved that Tommy indeed can outcoach one of the game's best.
"I think people have to be patient," Bobby said.
Patience was in short supply following Clemson's 45-17 loss at Wake Forest last week. Most talk centered on how soon Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips should cut the younger Bowden loose. Will this victory change everyone's thinking?
"That's for the president and the administration to decide how big this is for me," Tommy said.
Charlie Whitehurst threw for one touchdown and ran for another as Clemson (6-4, 4-3) snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Seminoles.
Aaron Hunt added four field goals and the Tigers held the Seminoles to their fewest points of the season and just 11 yards rushing.
Just about everyone expected Bobby -- on his 74th birthday, no less -- to show little mercy as his team tried to wrap up the league crown and move closer to a championship game.
But the Tigers played as if they didn't want to lose their coach. And the Seminoles never showed the poise and power they usually display.
Chris Rix missed his target on several throws and was intercepted by Tye Hill in the first quarter to end Florida State's only first-half drive inside Clemson territory.
Down 16-0 in the third quarter at Clemson's 30, Rix threw three straight passes nowhere near his receivers and the Seminoles settled for Xavier Beitia's 46-yard field goal. Rix ended 16-for-31 for 194 yards and two interceptions.
"I thought there was entirely too much heat on him," Bobby Bowden said. "And he was not hot."
Whitehurst continually made the game's biggest plays. A 17-yard pass to Kevin Youngblood led to Hunt's second field goal from 35 yards out and a 6-0 Clemson lead.
With 2:50 to go in the half, Whitehurst led a 65-yard touchdown drive -- 51 on a pass to Youngblood. Whitehurst finished it off himself with a 1-yard scoring run with 15 seconds left that made it 13-0.
Whitehurst, the son of former Green Bay quarterback David Whitehurst, lofted a pass to a wide-open Derrick Hamilton for a 58-yard touchdown that gave Clemson a 23-3 lead late in the third quarter.
The Seminoles scored their lone touchdown, a 71-yard reception from backup Fabian Walker to Chauncy Stovall, with 2:14 left -- far too late to make a difference.
Many of the same fans chanting "Fire Bowden" last week earlier at Wake Forest stood and cheered as Tommy crossed through the swarm of people rushing the field to talk with his father. Both goal posts were torn down and paraded up the hill and past Howard's Rock at the stadium's entrance.
The players gave their coach a Gatorade salute as the game ended. In the locker room, Whitehurst presented Bowden with a game ball.
"I'm just proud of all the guys," said Whitehurst, who passed for 272 yards to become the school's all-time single season leader with 2,682 yards.
Florida State hurt itself with silly penalties.
A pass interference call on cornerback RufusBrown kept one Clemson field goal drive going. Two Clemson series later,Brown was about to be flagged for another interference call when defensive tackle Darnell Dockett inexplicably ran into Youngblood long after the play ended. Dockett, the team leader with 14 tackles for losses, was ejected.
Still another Seminoles personal foul gave Clemson a first-and-goal just before Whitehurst's touchdown run.
Florida State had already clinched a tie for its 11th league title in 12 seasons. It can wrap up the conference's spot in the Bowl Championship Series next week against North Carolina.
Clemson had not beaten Florida State since 1989 when Danny Ford was in his final season with the Tigers.