Topic: On This Date: 1981 (2)Clemson- 10 (8)North Carolina- 8
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On This Date: 1981 (2)Clemson- 10 (8)North Carolina- 8

Posted: Nov 7, 2020, 4:29 PM

Chapel Hill, NC

In 1981, a second-ranked Clemson team—still playing for a possible national championship run—defeated the No. 8 Tar Heels in one of the greatest games in ACC history. The final score that day was 10-8.

Ironically, though, Clemson was coming off an 82-point performance against Wake Forest the week before traveling to Chapel Hill in 1981. Then Clemson head coach Danny Ford, however, knew Game 9 of the 1981 season would be the toughest one left on his schedule. He also knew it would be the one with the most distractions, too.

Clemson, 8-0, was ranked No. 2 by the Associated Press and No. 3 by United Press International (the Coaches Poll) coming into its November 7, 1981 clash at North Carolina. The Tar Heels were 7-1 and ranked No. 8 in both major polls.

“The North Carolina game did more for us winning the national championship than any other game,” said All-American linebacker Jeff Davis. “It was the ultimate test for us. We expected to win in Death Valley and we expected teams to already be behind when the whistle blew in Death Valley. But, to go into the backyard of a top 10-football team with everything at stake, and win, that did it for us.

“Remember, North Carolina had everything to play for. It’s right there for them. You can think there were people wondering ‘Can Clemson stay focused?’ And we beat them in a fight. It was an all-out brawl. May the best man win! It was man-on-man.”

The 1981 contest was the first time in the history of ACC football that two of its schools clashed in a battle of top 10 teams. With an ACC Championship and a major bowl bid at stake, it was dubbed the biggest game to ever be played in the state of North Carolina.

“(North Carolina) came to play,” said defensive end Jeff Bryant. “They were at home and they were a top 10 team. We both were striving for that goal which was to win the ACC and take it further from that.

It was also Homecoming Weekend in Chapel Hill, and it was the last game at Kenan Stadium for UNC’s seniors – a class that had helped the Tar Heels win an ACC Championship the year before and beat traditional powers such as Texas and Oklahoma along the way.

To top things off there were bowl representatives from eight bowl games in attendance, more than any other game that afternoon across the country. Sports Illustrated had been at Clemson all week to chronicle the Tigers’ magical run and was in Chapel Hill on that afternoon as well.

ABC was broadcasting it as part of their regional coverage and carried the game throughout most of the country. All of America’s eyes seem to be placed on this small school from the foothills of South Carolina, and Ford knew he had to do something to turn his team’s focus to what was really important – beating the Tar Heels.

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Re: On This Date: 1981 (2)Clemson- 10 (8)North Carolina- 8

Posted: Nov 7, 2020, 4:33 PM

got up at like 3 am Monday to watch a replay of this since we didnt get the game where I lived. I guess it was on ESPN but dont recall for sure


Quite a game....

Posted: Nov 7, 2020, 4:57 PM

Was fortunate to view in person....one of the best I've sent in my life. We really whooped it up in Orange County, NC!

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Got that right Tater-Bug!

Posted: Nov 7, 2020, 5:43 PM

Was there too..

& got a parking ticket another year there from Orange County Police and still have copy of it to prove they are Orange.

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Re: On This Date: 1981 (2)Clemson- 10 (8)North Carolina- 8

Posted: Nov 7, 2020, 5:49 PM

I was at that game. The Clemson section had all the fans standing on the bleachers. Our bench seat broke off and we all ended up on our butts. We passed the bench down the row and tossed it out of the stadium. Another bench broke off and they did the same thing.

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