College Football: Clemson ends disappointing season

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 29, 2006

Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Andre Woodson conjured up memories of Tim Couch and made Kentucky a bowl winner for the first time in 22 years.

Woodson threw for three touchdowns and 300 yards as the Wildcats surprised Clemson 28-20 in the Music City Bowl on Friday.

The junior completed 20 of 30 passes to finish his breakout season with 31 touchdowns — more than five times his total from last year. He joins Couch, the former No. 1 NFL draft pick, as the only Wildcats to top the 30-touchdown mark in a season.

“If he keeps doing this, he’s going to play at the next level and play it very well,” Woodson’s coach Rich Brooks said.

Behind Woodson, the game’s Most Valuable Player, the Wildcats (8-5) racked up their highest point total in bowl history.

For Clemson, the loss completed the Tigers’ freefall after high expectations and a promising start to the 2006 season.

The Tigers, ranked No. 10 in the country after beating Georgia Tech on Oct. 21, dropped four of their final five games to finish 8-5 after beginning the year 7-1.

Clemson’s effort Friday was marred by costly mistakes, especially in the first half.

After Jad Dean missed field goals on the Tigers first two possessions, Clemson fumbled twice in the half, and Will Proctor was intercepted by Trevard Lindley in the end zone. It proved to be an exclamation point for a team that faltered down the stretch in losing to Virginia Tech, Maryland and South Carolina before the bowl defeat.

Tigers coach Tommy Bowden was at a loss to explain the collapse after Friday’s setback.

“The last three years we’ve won four out of five, five out of six, six out of seven. This year was the complete opposite,” Bowden said. “We used the same routine, same emphasis, same type of motivation, and really misfired toward the end.”

Clemson players were equally disappointed with the finish after a promising start.

“I don’t know if this team thought it was in an eight-game season or thought we had an ACC championship won when we beat Georgia Tech,” senior center Dustin Fry said. “I don’t know what happened. We just fell apart after eight games. I hope this team that’s coming back can learn from our mistakes and turn this thing around.”