ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- James Davis walked out of the Citrus Bowl
with the game ball under one arm and the most valuable player
trophy under the other.
It was pretty obvious who was the key to Clemson's latest
Davis ran for a career-high 150 yards and a touchdown, Charlie
Whitehurst scrambled for a score and the No. 23 Tigers beat
Colorado 19-10 in the Champs Sports Bowl on Tuesday, handing the
Buffaloes their fourth consecutive loss.
Davis' 6-yard TD run with 1:38 remaining sealed a fourth
straight win for Clemson (8-4) and capped a disappointing season
for Colorado (7-6).
The freshman's performance also showed that the future is bright
for the Tigers despite losing their star quarterback.
"I can't wait until he knows what he's doing," Clemson coach
Tommy Bowden said. "He doesn't know what he's doing right now.
He's a special talent."
The Buffs made it close, though, something they didn't do in
their previous two games -- losses to Nebraska and Texas by a
combined score of 100-6.
Backup quarterback Brian White replaced starter James Cox midway
through the fourth quarter and led Colorado on a 69-yard scoring
drive that made it 13-10 with 5:45 to play. His 2-yard TD pass to
Quinn Sypniewski ended a streak of 14 quarters without a touchdown
and gave the Buffs a chance.
White rolled right on third down, then threw left to Sypniewski,
who was wide open in the end zone.
But Davis and Whitehurst answered, moving the Tigers 61 yards in
4:07 to put the game away. It wasn't too surprising considering the
duo made big plays all game.
Davis ran 28 times and eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the fourth
time this season -- a school record for a freshman.
"I didn't expect this as a freshman this year," he said. "But
the coach gave me a chance and I made the most of it."
Whitehurst foresees more from Davis in the future.
"There's no telling what James can do next year," Whitehurst
said. "The sky's the limit for James and a bunch of other young
guys. It's pretty easy to call plays and block with James in the
Whitehurst, a senior expected to be a first-day selection in
next year's NFL draft, was equally efficient and effective. He was
19-of-27 for 196 yards and threw an interception. He showed no
signs of shoulder problems after having arthroscopic surgery early
this month to relieve pain that had bothered him since September.
He also played most of the game without leading receiver Chansi
Stuckey, who sat out the second half with a concussion. His absence
opened the door for freshman Aaron Kelly, who caught a team-high
four passes for 36 yards, including a 23-yarder on the game-sealing
It was one of several clutch throws by Whitehurst.
His TD run was even bigger, coming on third and goal. He slipped
out of Akarika Dawn's grasp at the 5 and strolled in for the score,
which made it 13-3.
Dawn dropped his head to the ground and pounded the grass with
his right fist in frustration. It was that kind of night for
It also was that kind of season.
"I don't want to say a sense of relief," Cox said. "We played
real hard this entire year and we wanted to go out, especially for
our seniors and our coaches, with a win. It was tough. We played a
real tough game and everybody fought hard. But it didn't work out
The Buffaloes were 7-2 at one point, losing only to Miami and
Texas, and there was talk about a contract extension for embattled
coach Gary Barnett. But consecutive losses to Iowa State, Nebraska
and Texas ended that thought as well as Barnett's tenure in
Barnett had survived a sordid recruiting scandal and a
suspension following derogatory remarks about a female kicker who
claimed she was raped by a teammate in 2000. But the losses -- most
notably the 70-3 drubbing against the Longhorns in the Big 12 title
game -- ultimately led to his forced resignation nearly three weeks
The school has hired Boise State coach Dan Hawkins to replace
Barnett, but defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz coached the team
There was little Hankwitz could do to help the offense.
Cox made his second career start, replacing Joel Klatt after the
senior starter sustained a severe concussion in the conference
title game. Klatt, who hospitalized overnight after the injury,
didn't even dress for the game.
Cox, who made his first start in 2004 against Iowa State, showed
his inexperience. He misfired often, overthrowing and underthrowing
receivers and making poor decisions with the ball.
He finished 4-of-12 for 26 yards and was sacked three times. He
got little help from the running game, which finished with 17 yards
on 29 carries.
"It was tough," Cox said. "They were getting a lot of
pressure. It made it hard to stick to our game plan and get