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January 1, 1982 • Orange Bowl

After 86 years of playing football, Clemson claimed its first National Championship with a 22-15 win over perennial Big Eight power Nebraska in the 48th Orange Bowl. After a 13-3 win over 1980 National Champion Georgia at home, the Tigers worked their way to the number-one ranking in both wire service polls by season’s end. The win over the Cornhuskers gave Clemson the national title and its third perfect season in history.

Nebraska took the kickoff, but three plays later, Tiger middle guard William Devane recovered a Mark Mauer fumble at the Nebraska 33. Quarterback Homer Jordan drove Clemson to the Nebraska 24 before the drive stalled, and Donald Igwebuike drilled a 41-yard field goal to put the ACC Champions up, 3-0.

Nebraska came right back, however, as the Big Eight title holder drove 69 yards in eight plays to score on a 25-yard halfback pass from Mike Rozier to Anthony Steels. Kevin Seibel’s extra point gave Nebraska the lead at 7-3 with 6:43 to go in the first quarter.

After an exchange of punts, the Clemson offense moved from the Nebraska 42 yard line to the 21 to set up Igwebuike’s second field goal. The 37- yard boot narrowed the score to 7-6.

A second-quarter Phil Bates fumble gave Clemson the ball at the Nebraska 27, and the running combination of Jordan, Kevin Mack, and Cliff Austin moved the ball to the Cornhusker two. Austin, who had been stuck in the hotel elevator for two hours earlier in the day, scampered in for the score that gave Clemson a lead it would not relinquish. On its second possession of the second half, Clemson drove 75 yards in 12 plays to score its final touchdown of the night, a 13-yard pass from Jordan to All-American receiver Perry Tuttle in the corner of the end zone. It was Tuttle’s eighth touchdown grab of the season, which set a school record. Bob Paulling’s extra point put the Tigers ahead, 19-7.

After Billy Davis’s 47-yard punt return, Jordan moved the Tigers to the Nebraska 20, where Igwebuike kicked a 36-yard field goal, his third of the evening, to put Clemson ahead 22-7 with two-and-a half minutes left in the third stanza.

Nebraska was down but not out, though. After a near-interception by Johnny Rembert, Mauer engineered an eight-play, 69-yard drive that was capped by a 26-yard run by Roger Craig. After a penalty, Craig ran in the two-point conversion from eight yards out to close the gap to 22-15 with nine minutes to play.

The Clemson defense shut down the Big Red on their final extended drive, then the offense held on to the ball for nearly five-and-a-half minutes to run down the clock to six seconds. Andy Headen deflected Mauer’s desperation pass to preserve the win and the championship for Clemson.

Jeff Davis led the Tiger defense with 14 tackles in his final game. He also recovered a fumble, giving him a school-record eight for his career. Bill Smith added a career-high 10 tackles from his defensive end position.