Clemson Football: Ranking the 5 best Palmetto Bowl games of the Swinney era

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This was Coach Dabo Swinney’s first Palmetto Bowl as head coach of Clemson football. At this point he was still the interim coach, taking over for Tommy Bowden just 6 weeks prior.

Coach Swinney knew that if he was going to get this job on a permanent basis that he had to win this rivalry game. Clemson had won 9 of the last 11 versus Carolina at this point.

When Swinney took over Clemson in mid-October, they had to win four of their last five in order to become bowl eligible and South Carolina stood in the way of that goal.

Behind James Davis, C.J. Spiller, and quarterback Cullen Harper, the Tigers would defeat South Carolina 31-14 and secure a bowl game.

As we know, Clemson Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips would remove the interim tag from Coach Swinney and officially make him the 25th head football coach in Clemson history and would do so despite pressure from fans and boosters to seek out bigger names that had an interest in the program at the time.

This win in 2008 is by far the most important to Coach Swinney’s career and one could argue that it has become of the most program defining game as well. Without this win in 2008, there is no way that Phillips names Coach Swinney as the permanent head coach, and without that bold move, Clemson isn’t where they are today, on top of college football.

Next. Kelly Bryant was never going to be an NFL QB. dark

If Clemson had not won this game in 2008, there is a good chance that both programs would be in much different places than they are currently and Clemson certainly would not be on a current six-game winning streak or have won two of the last four national championships.