Clemson’s Mario Goodrich returned an interception for a touchdown late in the third quarter and thwarted a fourth-down attempt by Iowa State with 33 seconds remaining as the 19th-ranked Tigers defeated the Cyclones 20-13 Wednesday in the Cheez-It Bowl at Orlando.
The victory enabled Clemson (10-3) to reach the 10-win plateau for an 11th consecutive season, placing the Tigers alongside Florida State (1987-2000) and Alabama (2008-21) as the only programs to reach double-digit victories in 11 straight seasons.
Clemson, which failed to make the College Football Playoff for the first time in six years, got off to a 2-2 start but rallied to win eight of its final nine games, including the last six in a row.
Iowa State (7-6) pulled within 20-13 on a 6-yard pass from Brock Purdy to Charlie Kolar with 9:42 left in the game, but Clemson’s defense came up with big plays down the stretch.
The Tigers halted one drive with a third-down sack by K.J. Henry, and the Cyclones’ final drive with a fourth-down stop of Purdy, who appeared to have run for a first down before Goodrich forced a fumble that forced him to lose yardage short of the first down.
The teams battled through an ugly first half, swapping field goals before Clemson emerged with a 6-3 lead at halftime. B.T. Potter connected from 23 and 51 yards for the Tigers while Andrew Mevis had a 22-yarder for Iowa State.
The game took a turn late in the third quarter as Goodrich’s interception return came just 53 seconds after a 12-yard touchdown run by Will Shipley. The two scores resulted in Clemson going up 20-3 with 4:01 left in the third.
Shipley led Clemson with 61 yards on 18 carries while Kobe Pace added 51 yards on 12 attempts. Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei completed 21 of 32 passes for 187 yards and one interception.
Iowa State, which was playing with top running back Breece Hall, who skipped the game as he prepares for the NFL Draft, managed only 66 yards on the ground. Purdy completed 23 of 39 passes for 204 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Clemson’s defense had a season-low two tackles for loss but came up big in crucial situations and limited the Cyclones to 270 yards and a season-low point total.
The victory gives Dabo Swinney a 150-36 record in 14 seasons as Clemson’s head coach.
–Field Level Media