I don't think I can remember a more frustrating game, and I'm pretty sure Dabo has never lost a game when outgaining the opponent by over 100 yards, let alone losing by 17. The name of the game is points, though, and the story of this one is the Tigers' inability to finish drives with touchdowns, even coming up completely empty with rare missed field goals by Potter. He missed 3 field goals all season and missed 3 in the first half tonight. What a sad and ironic end to his career! He is the Tigers' all-time leader in career field goals, starts and points scored, as well as the only player in ACC history to score at least 100 points in 4 different seasons. He will have a great NFL career, but I'm sure his last college game will haunt him for a long time.
The Tigers punted just once in the first half but went to the locker room with just 3 points! The tone was really set from the opening possession when the Tigers moved the ball to the 27 and then failed on a fake field goal. If they had taken the 44-yard field goal and Potter had gotten in an early groove, who knows what would have happened? We'll never know. But it was just like a broken record tonight, and the longer they kept coming up empty, the more confidence and momentum the Vols and their fans drew from that. The Tigers could have put the game away early by scoring touchdowns after driving down the field. The defense was getting stops much better than the Vols' defense was, and the Tigers could have built an early lead and never looked back. Would have, should have, could have...none of that happened, and that's why they play the games.
Cade made his first start and made some great plays, finishing with 320 passing yards and 51 rushing yards, but he also looked like a freshman at times, especially at the end of the first half when he ran the ball twice with no timeouts to allow the clock to run out when they could have kicked an easy field goal or had a couple shots at the end zone. Those are moments you have to live through as a young quarterback, and he will not make those mistakes next season.
I'll have more analysis later. In the meantime, the post-game press conference, highlights and notes are below!
Clemson finished the season 11-3. The 2022 season was Clemson’s 11th 11-win season in school history and its eighth in the last 11 years.
Clemson’s 11 wins in 2022 tied for the seventh-most in a season in school history.
Dabo Swinney coached his 200th career game as head coach to join Frank Howard (295) as the only coaches in school history to coach 200 career games at Clemson.
Swinney joined Florida State’s Bobby Bowden (227) and Virginia’s George Welsh (223) as the only coaches to lead an ACC program in at least 200 career games.
Swinney is 161-39 through 200 career games, tying Oklahoma Bob Stoops and Tennessee’s Robert Neyland for the fifth-most victories through 200 games in FBS history.
Swinney completed his 15th season (and 14th full season) as the second-winningest coach in FBS history through the first 15 seasons of a career (161). Swinney ranks second behind only Urban Meyer (165). Swinney's win total includes his interim season in which he only coached seven games.
Swinney made his 19th bowl game appearance to break Bobby Bowden’s ACC record (18) for the most career bowl appearances leading an ACC program.
Clemson produced a season-high 34 first downs. It was Clemson’s most first downs since recording 34 first downs against Miami (Fla.) in 2020.
Clemson’s 34 first downs were a school bowl record. Clemson’s previous bowl record for first downs was 32, set against LSU in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Clemson dropped to 31-3 since 1950 in games in which it has recorded 30 or more first downs. The game was Clemson’s first loss in a contest in which it recorded 30 or more first downs since 2016 against Pitt (33).
Eleven of Clemson’s 14 drives crossed midfield. Clemson scored on three of those possessions.
Clemson ran 101 plays, the most in Clemson bowl history, surpassing its 100 against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. It was one shy of the school record in any game (101, 2012 vs. NC State).
Clemson’s 101 plays were an Orange Bowl record, surpassing Clemson’s 90 plays against Oklahoma in the 2015 Orange Bowl and Nebraska’s 90 plays against Notre Dame in the 1973 Orange Bowl.
Clemson 34 first downs and 101 plays were both the most in a loss in school history.
Clemson’s 56 team passing attempts set an Orange Bowl record and tied the Clemson bowl record set against Mississippi State in the Peach Bowl to end the 1999 season, the 2002 Tangerine Bowl against Texas Tech and the College Football Playoff National Championship Game against Alabama to end the 2016 season.
Clemson forced five Tennessee three-and-outs. The Tigers also forced the Volunteers to punt a season-high eight times. Tennessee’s season high in punts entering the game was six at Pitt in September. Tennessee punted 19 times in eight SEC games in 2022 and 14 times in two games against ACC opponents.
Quarterback Cade Klubnik made his first career start and completed 30-of-54 passes for 320 yards. Klubnik’s 54 pass attempts were an Orange Bowl record, surpassing Florida State’s Chris Weinke’s 51 passes against Oklahoma (and quarterback) Josh Heupel in the Orange Bowl to end the 2000 season.
Klubnik also rushed 20 times for 51 yards with a touchdown. His 20 rushing attempts were the most by a Clemson quarterback since Kelly Bryant’s 20 rushing attempts against NC State in 2017.
Klubnik’s 74 plays of total offense (combined rush attempts and pass attempts) were the fifth-most by an individual in Clemson history and Clemson’s most since Deshaun Watson’s 77 against Alabama to end the 2016 season.
Klubnik’s 74 plays of total offense were an Orange Bowl record, surpassing the 65 by Northern Illinois against Florida State to end the 2012 season.
Klubnik became the first Clemson quarterback since the modernization of Clemson's quarterback position in 1953 to make his first career start in a postseason game.
In facing No. 6 Tennessee, Klubnik became the first Clemson quarterback to make his first career start against an AP Top 6 opponent since his offensive coordinator, Brandon Streeter, did so against No. 5 Florida State in 1997.
Klubnik became only the eighth true freshman to start at quarterback for Clemson since the NCAA instituted permanent freshman eligibility in 1972, joining Steve Fuller (1975), Willie Jordan (1975), Patrick Sapp (1992), Nealon Greene (1994), Deshaun Watson (2014), Trevor Lawrence (2018) and DJ Uiagalelei (2020).
Klubnik rushed for his second touchdown of the season and his second touchdown in as many games on a four-yard carry in the fourth quarter.
With Klubnik’s rushing touchdown, Clemson has now scored at least one rushing touchdown in a national-best 68 of its 69 games since the start of the 2018 season. Clemson has rushed for a touchdown in 26 consecutive games.
Running back Will Shipley scored Clemson’s fourth two-point conversion of the season in the fourth quarter. Clemson’s four two-point conversions this season are Clemson’s most since 2012 (four).
Shipley rushed 17 times for 72 yards. Shipley finished the year with 1,182 rushing yards, 11th-most in a season in Clemson history.
Wide receiver Joseph Ngata caught a career-high eight passes for 84 yards.
With four catches for 49 yards by Davis Allen and three catches for 29 yards by Jake Briningstool, Clemson’s tight ends finished the year with 67 catches, 748 yards and 10 touchdowns. The 67 catches exceeded the group’s 65 in 2011 for its most under Dabo Swinney.
Defensive tackle Ruke Orhorhoro ended Tennessee’s first drive with a third-down sack, adding to his single-season career high with his fourth sack of the season.
Defensive tackle Bryan Bresee pushed his season sack total to 3.5 with a second-quarter sack.
Defensive tackle Tyler Davis recorded a sack on a third down late in the first half. It pushed his season sack total to 5.5, tying his single-season career high from 2019, and pushed his single-season career high in tackles for loss to 9.5, surpassing his 9.0 in 2019.
Linebacker Barrett Carter pushed his season sack total to 5.5 with a third-quarter sack, Clemson’s fourth sack of the game.
Clemson has now recorded at least four sacks in five consecutive games for the first time since a six-game streak across the final three games of 1990 and the first three games of 1991.
Linebacker Wade Woodaz recorded a career-high 2.0 tackles for loss.
Cornerback Nate Wiggins recorded his 13th pass breakup of the season to tie the Clemson sophomore record for pass breakups in a single season shared by James Lott (1987) and Justin Miller (2003).
Placekicker B.T. Potter appeared in his 69th career game to tie Clemson's program record for career games played shared by James Skalski, Will Spiers and Will Swinney. Potter's 69 career games are the most of any active player at any level of NCAA football.
Potter made his 54th career start at placekicker to add to his Clemson position record set in the ACC Championship Game.
Potter scored in a 54th consecutive game to break the Clemson record set by Chandler Catanzaro (53) from 2010-13. Potter scored in every game since earning the starting placekicking job prior to the 2019 season after serving as the team's kickoff specialist in 2018.
On a 40-yard third-quarter field goal, his second field goal of the game, Potter (73) passed Nelson Welch (72 from 1991-94) for the Clemson record for career field goals.
Potter finished his collegiate career with Clemson’s records for field goals of 40 yards or more (34) and 50 yards or more (nine).
Clemson faced its second AP Top 10 opponent of the season and has now faced multiple AP Top 10 teams in a season seven times in the last eight years.
Clemson faced Tennessee for the 20th time in school history, a series that dates to John Heisman's Tigers facing the Volunteers at Knoxville's Chilhowee Park in 1901.
Clemson played its eighth night game of 2022, tying the 2017 and 2019 campaigns for the second-most in a season in Clemson history.
Clemson dropped to 4-3 all-time in Orange Bowl play.
With a win in the ACC Championship Game prior to the Orange Bowl, Clemson entered the game having won a postseason game (conference championship, bowl game and/or national championship game) for 12 consecutive seasons. Clemson’s current 12-year streak is the longest active streak in the country and passed 1985-95 Florida State for the longest streak on record back to 1980, according to Stats Perform.
The defeat ended Clemson’s 16-game winning streak in December games, a streak that dated to Clemson’s 2011 ACC Championship Game victory against Virginia Tech. Clemson dropped to 27-14 all-time in December games, including postseason play.
Clemson finished the season 4-1 against AP Top 25 opponents (at kickoff) this season.
Clemson played its 154th consecutive game since losing back-to-back games in a single season. Clemson's 154-game streak dating to 2011 is the nation's longest active streak.
Clemson voted on its permanent captains for the 2022 season prior to the contest. Clemson’s captains for the game and season were tight end Davis Allen, defensive tackle Tyler Davis, defensive end K.J. Henry,offensive tackle Jordan McFadden and safety Jalyn Phillips.