ATLANTA — Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired to give No. 14 Clemson a wild 25-24 win over No. 9 Louisiana State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Monday night.
Trailing 24-22, Clemson took possession on its 20 with 1:39 remaining. Tajh Boyd completed a pass for 26 yards to DeAndre Hopkins on a fourth-and-16 play during the decisive 10-play drive.
Catanzaro’s kick set off a wild celebration on the field and in the stands. Some players collapsed on the field in apparent disbelief while most of Clemson’s orange jerseys met in a midfield circle.
Hopkins, who had 13 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns, also had receptions for 7 and 13 yards in the final drive. LSU safety Greg Reid was flagged for pass interference while defending Hopkins.
Jeremy Hill had 126 rushing yards and two touchdowns for LSU (10-3), which finishes a season that began with national championship hopes on a sour note.
Clemson (11-2) was coming off a 27-17 loss to in-state rival South Carolina. It finished the 2011 season at 10-4, when a lopsided 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl kept the Tigers from 11 wins.
Clemson finished 12-0 in its 1981 national championship season. It was 11-0 in 1948 and 11-1 in 1978. No other Clemson team has won more than 10 games.
“So 11 wins in Clemson history has been a pretty rare thing,” Swinney said Sunday. “And to be at the doorstep of that for the second year in a row is pretty special.”
Reaching 11 wins is special for the Tigers, especially against one of the SEC’s most prominent teams. LSU played for the national championship last season, but was knocked off by Alabama.
Clemson scored at least 37 points in 10 of its 13 games. The exceptions were its three games against SEC teams – a 26-19 opening win over Auburn at the Georgia Dome, the loss to South Carolina, and finally, Monday’s win over LSU which was surprisingly led by the defense.