'Hot Rod' McDowell gets his 1,000

Clemson's Sammy Watkins, left, and Tajh Boyd share a laugh while being interviewed on a TV post-game show following the Tigers' 40-35 win over Ohio State in the 2014 Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla Friday night.

Mark Crammer Independent Mail

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson's Sammy Watkins, left, and Tajh Boyd share a laugh while being interviewed on a TV post-game show following the Tigers' 40-35 win over Ohio State in the 2014 Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla Friday night. Mark Crammer Independent Mail

MIAMI GARDENS - Clemson senior running back Rod McDowell set his goal and told anybody who would listen preseason - he was getting 1,000 rushing yards.

Late in the second quarter on the BCS stage, he did just that, taking a six-yard carry right into the school record books. After back-to-back 1,000-yard years before him via Andre Ellington, "Hot Rod" carved a Clemson first with three consecutive seasons with a 1,000-yard rusher.

The Sumter native and former four-star prospect played sparingly in his first two seasons in TigerTown, totaling 224 yards, but emerged in 2012 as a threat, leading Clemson in yards per carry (5.4).

"It's really like a blessing because at the end of the day after all I had to go through," McDowell said, "having to sit and wait. Having the opportunity to be a 1,000-yard rusher really means a lot."

From the jump, he announced his presence this season with his first career 100-yard game in the opener against Georgia (132) and totaled three in his last six games.


Through three quarters, Sammy Watkins totaled 13 catches for 200 yards and two touchdowns - and brought every record you can name with him.

With an eight-grab and 130-yard first half, he seized the Clemson single-season catches mark (88, Aaron Kelly). In a five-catch and 70-yard third quarter, he cleaned up even more, taking down the school career reception and touchdown records, and the Orange Bowl single-game receiving mark.

The south Florida native posted his eighth 100-yard receiving game of the season (another school record) and set a new Clemson single-game high in the game's final 15 minutes. Was he finished? Oh no, adding the first game of at least 15 catches in Clemson history to his repertoire.

Watkins finished the night with 16 receptions for 227 yards and two scores.


Goal-to-go and three yards, 6-5 junior Martavis Bryant was getting the ball Friday night.

The formula? Tajh Boyd fade - Bryant acrobatic touchdown catch, which worked out twice. The T.L. Hanna product, who wears No. 1 in orange and white, totaled his second multi-score game of the year and his career in what's been a breakout season for the 22-year old.


Clemson was seeing yellow early and often, totaling six flags for 80 yards in the first half. That doubled or more than doubled their game totals in eight games and exceeded their total in all but one (96, Florida State).


Former Clemson defensive back Terry Kinard was honored as one of three newly inducted members of the Orange Bowl hall of fame.

The Sumter native was instrumental in the Tigers' 1981 national championship run, which concluded with a 22-15 win over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.

"We played in the Orange Bowl many years ago and that's probably one of the greatest memories I have in college football," Kinard said this week, accepting the honor officially. "The Orange Bowl is a great, great game and I'm pleased and proud to have the opportunity to be a part of it and for y'all to induct me into this. I had a lot of great people help me along the way."

The two-time All-American's spot in the group was a longtime coming - named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001 already. He was joined by former FSU linebacker Peter Boulware and former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese.


Believe it or not, this year's version of the Orange Bowl was only the second-ever matchup between tradition-rich football programs, Clemson and Ohio State. The Tigers earned bragging rights for 35 years on a Charlie Bauman intereception to clinch the 17-15 win.


In the final go-round of the BCS, Clemson grabbed its second bid overall in three seasons. Counterpart Ohio State's ninth appearance in 15 years is tied for the best in the FBS with Oklahoma.

The last BCS game will be the national title game on Monday between No. 1 Florida State (12-0) and No. 2 Auburn (12-1). Next season college football goes to a four-team playoff as selected by a committee that includes Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich.


Clemson's status as the visiting team was the first for the ACC since 2001 in the Orange Bowl. The conference "hosted" the Orange Bowl in its nine appearances from 2002-2012, going 1-8. Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables was on the opposing sidelines in the 2001 Orange matchup, where his Oklahoma defense held Florida State down in a 13-2 win.

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Comments » 1

BlueRidgeBengal writes:

Congrats to Hot Rod on a breaking the 1,000 yard mark this season. Good to see someone believe in themself, set a goal and achieve it.

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