Topic: On This Date 1983 BALLOONS! (17)Clemson- 52 (11)Maryland- 27
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On This Date 1983 BALLOONS! (17)Clemson- 52 (11)Maryland- 27

emoji_events [14]
Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 10:27 AM

November 12, 1983
Clemson, SC

(Excerpt from Tim Bourret in the 09/28/08 Clemson Gameday Program):

Senior Day of 1983 was memorable on many fronts, but it will always be recalled as “The Balloon Game.” Student Body President Mark Wilson came to Athletic Director Bill McLellan earlier in the fall with the idea of establishing a “Spirit Blitz” for the final home game of the year against Maryland. It was thought that something special was appropriate for this group of seniors who would post a national-best 30-2-2 record during its final three years. Wilson had read in the Guinness Book of World Records about the largest balloon launch in history and he thought a launch as the Tigers ran down the Hill would be a perfect place to break the record. During the Saturday morning of the November 12 game, 3,000 students showed up to fill 363,729 balloons with helium. I went over to the stadium with Al Adams and his then four-year-old son Jeremy to watch one of the most festive atmospheres I have ever seen at a football stadium. When that cannon sounded, the balloons were launched from all areas of the stadium. Even though it was a 1:00 PM kickoff on a picture-perfect sunny day, from the press box, it appeared to get dark as the balloons rose to the sky. It looked like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. The next week, we received reports that some of the balloons landed in Lumberton, NC over 200 miles away. The 83,000 fans were at a fever pitch from the opening kickoff. Maryland was ranked #11 in the country, but quarterback Boomer Esiason and company were no match for the Tigers this afternoon. In those days, I provided the color commentary on Clemson’s radio network with Jim Phillips. When Stacey Driver scored on a 14-yard jaunt in the third quarter, the Tigers took a 42-7 lead. After the touchdown, I said, “Bring on Nebraska.” The Cornhuskers were ranked #1 in the nation at the time. Clemson won the game by a score of 52-27 to finish with a 7-0 record against ACC teams. After the game, it was learned that North Carolina had lost, meaning Maryland was the official ACC Champion. It might have been the most hollow ACC Championship in any sport in league history.

Terrapins Lose, 52-27, But 'Win' ACC

By Michael Wilbon
November 13, 1983

With about 30 seconds to play today, it was announced in Memorial Stadium that North Carolina had lost to Virginia, meaning that Maryland had won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

Most of the Terrapins were too numb to hear the news, and those who did certainly didn't feel like champions. It was Clemson 52, Maryland 27, a less than noble ending for the 11th-ranked Terrapins in Death Valley.

Maryland had a chance to show it belonged in the top 10, but mostly the Terrapins showed ineptitude before 81,000, the largest crowd to see a game here.

Maryland probably played itself out of the Citrus Bowl, which had six representatives looking on. The Hall of Fame Bowl was so comfortable with Maryland as its primary choice that it didn't send a representative. It could have been a blessing for the Terrapins.

Clemson, ranked 17th, improved to 8-1-1, including 7-0 against teams in the ACC, but it is going nowhere. Because the Tigers are on probation, Maryland (7-3, 4-0) is the league champion, no matter what the Terrapins do in the season finale next week at North Carolina State.

But Clemson's 544 yards of total offense meant more today than any title. Its absolute, fearsome dominance was all that mattered.

"It would be nice to say Clemson did something we didn't expect, or threw something new at us," said Maryland defensive tackle Pete Koch. "But they came straight at us. And beat us. That's the sad, sad truth."

Maryland gave up more points than at any time since Penn State scored 63 in 1971. It seemed the Terrapins missed as many as three tackles on almost every play. Mike Eppley, the Tigers' quarterback, completed 11 of 16 passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns. Fullback Kevin Mack rushed for 186 yards and three touchdowns.

So Maryland Coach Bobby Ross was quite right when he said, "We took a good old-fashioned lickin' today. Our tackling was terrible, absolutely terrible . . . the worst I've ever seen. I told them that 99 percent of tackling is wanting to, and I think we reached a point where we didn't want to."

Strange as it may sound, this game really boiled down to one play, Greg Hill's dropped pass that could have tied the game at 14-all.

Clemson led, 14-0, early in the second quarter. Eppley had thrown a 64-yard screen pass to tailback Kenny Flowers, who eluded three or four tackles before gaining five yards.

The Tigers got the second score when Eppley suckered the Terrapins into rushing him about 13 yards deep, then turned and threw cross-field to tight end K.D. Dunn, who finished off the 13-yard touchdown.

The Terrapins came back to make it 14-7 when Boomer Esiason threw an 11-yard pass to Hill to finish an impressive 79-yard drive.

Then came the play of the game. From Maryland's nine, Esiason, on second down, scrambled away from three Tigers in his end zone. Esiason saw Hill, who had run behind everybody, at the 40.

The pass was on the mark. One defender had an angle on Hill, but he was still 30 yards in the clear. But Hill dropped the ball. He could have hopped on one foot into the end zone, had he held it. And the touchdown would have tied the game.

"I could feel how open I was," Hill said. "I knew I had the cornerback beaten. I didn't feel the ball hit the ground, though. I thought I caught it."

Instead, the Terrapins were deflated. Alan Sadler, the punter, kicked a 28-yarder, his first bad punt in weeks. "The flow just changed," Sadler said. "It was so loud down there on the field after that play (Hill's drop), and I just hit it bad."

To make matters worse for the Terrapins, Eddie Schultz crashed into Billy Davis, who had called for a fair catch. So Maryland was penalized 15 yards, and the Tigers had possession on Maryland's 23.

Mack soon scored from the six to make it 21-7 with 5:09 left in the half, and one more mistake would seal Clemson's victory. On Maryland's next play from scrimmage, an attempted handoff to tailback Willie Joyner, Esiason was hit almost at the snap by tackle James Robinson--because of an offensive line mixup--and fumbled.

Clemson's William Devane recovered at Maryland's 16. Five plays later, Mack scored from the one.

The first series of the second half was one of the worst Maryland has run in two years under Ross. Clemson was offside on first down, so the Terrapins had first and five from the 25.

The first play was an inside handoff to Joyner, who gained one yard. Considering how dominant Clemson's defensive line was, one wouldn't expect too many inside running calls, but Joyner tried again on second down, and was tackled for a three-yard loss. On third and seven, Esiason threw incomplete.


Clemson scored on Eppley's third-down pass to Terrance Roulhac on the next series, and it was 35-7. Devane, who alternates at nose guard with William Perry, said he was shocked that Maryland and North Carolina were so easy to beat the last two weeks.

Ross, after the worst loss of his career at Maryland, said there was one person to blame for what happened here. "It's up to the head coach to get the team prepared," he said, "and obviously, they weren't ready. No one should take the blame but me."

But Ross couldn't make the catches or tackle Mack, who would run 42 yards for another touchdown in the fourth quarter, after Esiason ran 14 yards for one touchdown and one yard for another.

"I don't know if I can ever forget this," Maryland defensive back Clarence Baldwin said. "Coach Ross told us some guys gave up. I hope he wasn't talking about me. I missed tackles there was no excuse for missing. But I thought I played with everything I had."

Some believe that Clemson, with its biggest home crowd and the incentive of winning its 19th straight conference ACC game (plus the launching of 310,000 balloons), would have beaten almost anyone.

Ray Brown, Clemson's defensive tackle, agreed. "If it was a rematch (of the 1981 Orange Bowl) between us and Nebraska, it would have come out the same way."

Brown, asked if the Tigers felt like ACC champions, said, "Yep, we whupped everybody in the ACC. And with the whuppin' we put on them today, I think they really know we're the ACC champs."

Many of Maryland's players said before the game that Clemson should, indeed, feel like the champions if it won today. Some Terrapins didn't change their minds.

"They're undefeated against ACC teams," Brian Baker, a senior defensive end said. "We are the champions, but we can't say that. It hurts that they took something from us last year we felt belonged to us, and #### if they didn't do it again today."

#### Dull, Maryland's director of athletics, had said before the game that the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 17 was the school's first choice. But while watching the devastation, Chuck Rohe, executive director of the Citrus said, "We still have an interest in Maryland, but instead of being our primary prospect, they become a secondary prospect."

The Hall of Fame Bowl is likely to get two 8-3 teams, at best, and made no stipulation that Maryland had to win today to earn an invitation.

Maryland's players, thinking Orange Bowl last week, were thinking about recovery just before sunset.

"We're always talking about character and pride," said offensive tackle Tony Edwards. "This week, we'll see just how much character this team has."


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Best Is The Standard

OH THE HORROR, just imagine how many animals & small

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 10:34 AM

children died the next day from such a thoughtless release of that much latex into the countryside...

2021 white level member

Re: On This Date 1983 BALLOONS! (17)Clemson- 52 (11)Maryland- 27

emoji_events [6]
Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 10:43 AM

I was there, and remember getting up wayyyyyyyyy earlier than any college student ever should on a cold, hungover, Saturday morning to fill and tie off thousands of balloons.

I was probably still eating cold Chanelo's pizza from the night before as I stumbled down the hill from Johnstone F section.

I can't be sure, but didn't the east goalpost get torn down that game, or was it another one?

Re: On This Date 1983 BALLOONS! (17)Clemson- 52 (11)Maryland- 27

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 12:23 PM

I was there too and was going to do that but for those very reasons you stated I decided to sleep in.


I was at that game

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 10:46 AM

I was just around 14 and remember heckling Boomer as he left the field after the game! Not that he heard me or cared, but it was a fun game!

Re: I was at that game

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 11:48 AM

Your heckling is why Boomer hates Clemson. Own it

Re: On This Date 1983 BALLOONS! (17)Clemson- 52 (11)Maryland- 27

emoji_events [5]
Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 10:49 AM

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was a freshman and just in awe of the whole experience sitting in the upper deck. It may have been the most enjoyable game I have ever witnessed - we rocked old Boomer all day and came away as unofficial ACC Champs!

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Class of '87

Re: On This Date 1983 BALLOONS! (17)Clemson- 52 (11)Maryland- 27

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 11:01 AM

I helped blow up the balloons.


Was there myself!!!

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 11:26 AM

Drove over from Laurinburg alone after a Sales Rep offered me an extra ticket he had . . . Sat in the lower bowl next to the Maryland contingent . . . Surprisingly, they behaved themselves!!!

2021 white level member

Re: Was there myself!!!

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 12:03 PM

Me too! It was a fun day in Sec R.

2021 purple level member

"It is not part of a true culture to tame tigers any more than it is to make sheep ferocious."
--Henry David Thoreau

Me three***

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 3:54 PM

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Yep - I was there too - student section somewhere...***

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 4:28 PM

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Awesome day. It was COLD early that morning blowing up

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 11:31 AM

balloons. Didn't help having stayed out a tick too late the night before......... Sat on The Hill that day and the fans gave Boomer crap all game long. Like I said: AWESOME!

2021 white level member

Yes,and it led to the mass destruction of the inland

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 11:47 AM

Loggerhead sea turtle.

Re: Yes,and it led to the mass destruction of the inland

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 11:49 AM

not to mention keeping the Ninja turtles stuck as teenagers

What is the source of this information? I have never heard

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 12:17 PM

one single turtle say this caused them a problem. :(

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Re: What is the source of this information? I have never heard

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 1:10 PM

the inland humpback whales beg to differ.

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Anyone ever stop to think maybe the inland humpback whales

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 4:55 PM

inhaled all the inland loggerhead sea turtles? They probably tasted like gummy bears to them.

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Re: On This Date 1983 BALLOONS! (17)Clemson- 52 (11)Maryland- 27

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 12:29 PM

I was there. I was a junior (I think) and actually got to let a few balloons go myself.
It was a great day to be a Tiger.

Re: On This Date 1983 BALLOONS! (17)Clemson- 52 (11)Maryland- 27

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 12:29 PM

As I recall, Maryland went through several quarterbacks that day. All NFL caliber.

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Re: On This Date 1983 BALLOONS! (17)Clemson- 52 (11)Maryland- 27

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 12:32 PM

I was there,awesome game and atmosphere!

Re: On This Date 1983 BALLOONS! (17)Clemson- 52 (11)Maryland- 27

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 1:28 PM

I was there too. Got up way too early to blow up balloons (I was tying the knots). Freezing cold in the pre-dawn morning and I had worn off the skin on my thumb before someone told me to tape them up. I remember the stadium getting dark when we let them all go. I took photos from that day in the student section and have them on my wall in my office.

Re: On This Date 1983 BALLOONS! (17)Clemson- 52 (11)Maryland- 27

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 3:51 PM

I went to that game. When the balloons were released, it was spectacular sight as the sky was full of balloons.

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Re: On This Date 1983 BALLOONS! (17)Clemson- 52 (11)Maryland- 27

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 5:16 PM

Awesome video! Wish I had been there.

1 less than 100 baloons

Posted: Nov 12, 2020, 3:59 PM


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Maryland had a really good program under Bobby Ross.........

Posted: Nov 13, 2020, 2:05 PM

They were the second best program in the ACC. NC State took that title over under #### Sheridan and then Bobby Ross took it back with Georgia Tech. Ross could flat out coach.

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