1982 Orange Bowl
48th Orange Bowl
1234 Total
Clemson 66100 22
Nebraska 7008 15
DateJanuary 1, 1982
StadiumOrange Bowl
LocationMiami, Florida
MVPHomer Jordan (Clemson QB)
Jeff Davis        (Clemson LB)
FavoriteNebraska by 3½-4½ points[1][2]
RefereeRobert Aillet (SEC)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersDon Criqui and John Brodie
Orange Bowl
 < 1981  1983

The 1982 Orange Bowl was the 48th edition of the college football bowl game, played at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, on Friday, January 1. Part of the 1981–82 bowl game season, it matched the top-ranked and undefeated Clemson Tigers of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and the #4 Nebraska Cornhuskers of the Big Eight Conference. Underdog Clemson won, 22–15, and gained their first national championship.[2][3]


Main article: 1981 NCAA Division I-A football season


Main article: 1981 Clemson Tigers football team

Led by head coach Danny Ford, the Tigers began the season unranked, won all eleven games in the regular season, and moved up to first in the rankings in late November. Their notable wins were over Georgia and North Carolina. Clemson was attempting to win its first national championship.[4] The Tigers were making their third appearance in the Orange Bowl, but the first in a quarter century.


Main article: 1981 Nebraska Cornhuskers football team

The Huskers had two early losses, at Iowa and to Penn State,[5] then won eight consecutive games to improve to fourth in the polls. Nebraska was making its eighth appearance in the Orange Bowl, the first in three years.

Game summary

Earlier in the day, third-ranked Alabama lost the Cotton Bowl to #6 Texas. In the Sugar Bowl, now played at the same time as the Orange, second-ranked Georgia was defeated by #8 Pittsburgh, which opened the door for the Orange Bowl victor to claim the national title; Nebraska was favored by 3½ to 4½ points.[1][2]

Clemson scored first on a 41-yard field goal by Donald Igwebuike to take a 3–0 lead. Nebraska then succeeded with a trick play, as running back Mike Rozier threw a 25-yard halfback pass to Anthony Steels for a touchdown and a 7–3 lead. Igwebuike kicked a 37-yard field goal to pull Clemson to 7–6. Following a Nebraska fumble, Cliff Austin scored on a two-yard touchdown run and Clemson led 12–7 at halftime.

In the third quarter, Clemson quarterback Homer Jordan threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Perry Tuttle and Igwebuike added another field goal, this time a 36-yarder, and the Tigers extended their lead to fifteen points at 22–7.

In the fourth quarter, halfback Roger Craig scored for the Huskers on a 26-yard run. Following a Nebraska penalty on the first two-point conversion attempt, Craig then ran it in from the eight, which closed the margin to 22–15 with over nine minutes remaining. The Huskers got the ball back, but penalties ultimately killed the drive and forced them to punt the ball back to Clemson; the Tigers maintained possession for the bulk of the last six minutes and secured their first national championship in college football.[2][4][6][7]


First quarter
Second quarter
Third quarter
Fourth quarter


Statistics   Clemson    Nebraska 
First Downs 17 13
Rushes–yards 52–155 40–193
Passing yards 134 63
Passes (C–A–I) 11–22–1 6–17–0
Total Offense 74–289 57–256
Punts–average 4–46 6–43
Fumbles–lost 3–0 3–2
Turnovers 1 2
Penalties–yards 7–57 8–64
Time of possession 32:22 27:38


Clemson remained atop both final polls, while Nebraska dropped to eleventh (AP) and ninth (UPI).[12] This would be the last time the Tigers won the national championship until 2016.

Nebraska played in the Orange Bowl in the next two seasons; Clemson returned thirty years later.


  1. ^ a b "Harrah's Odds". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). January 1, 1982. p. 28.
  2. ^ a b c d Papanek, John (January 11, 1982). "Year of the Tigers". Sports Illustrated. p. 14.
  3. ^ "Clemson locks up national title on 22-15 victory". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. January 2, 1982. p. 10.
  4. ^ a b c "Clemson peels off a national title". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 2, 1982. p. 1B.
  5. ^ "State gives Nebraska the boot". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. September 27, 1981. p. 75.
  6. ^ "No question: Clemson is best". Milwaukee Journal. (Los Angeles Times, AP, UPI). January 2, 1982. p. 11.
  7. ^ "Clemson keeps its claim on No. 1". Milwaukee Sentinel. wire services. January 2, 1982. p. 1, part 2.
  8. ^ a b "Orange Bowl". Milwaukee Sentinel. (box score). January 2, 1982. p. 5, part 2.
  9. ^ a b "Game-by-game recaps: 1982" (PDF). 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl media guide. January 2019. p. 38.
  10. ^ a b "Bowl games: 1982 Orange Bowl" (PDF). 2005 Nebraska Cornhuskers football media guide. (supplement). 2005. Archived from the original on July 23, 2020.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  11. ^ "Orange Bowl". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). (box score). January 2, 1982. p. 3B.
  12. ^ "Polls agree that Tigers are No. 1". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). wire services. January 3, 1982. p. 3E.