ORLANDO, Fla. - James Davis ran for 150 yards and a touchdown, Charlie Whitehurst scrambled for a score and No. 23 Clemson beat Colorado 19-10 in the Champs Sports Bowl on Tuesday.
Davis' 6-yard TD run with 1:38 remaining sealed a fourth straight victory for Clemson (8-4) and gave Colorado (7-6) its fourth straight defeat.
The Buffs made it close, though. 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. 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.
Davis and Whitehurst made big plays all game.
Davis ran 28 times and eclipsed 100 yards for the fourth time this season -- a school record for a freshman. He also was named the game's most valuable player.
Whitehurst was 19-of-27 for 196 yards and 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.
Whitehurst came up big on all of Clemson's scoring drives.
He completed a 24-yard pass to Curtis Baham on third down that set up Jad Dean's first field goal, a 26-yarder than gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. Whitehurst was 3-for-3 passing on third down on a drive in the second that set up Dean's 18-yarder.
After Davis' 40-yard run on the second play of the third quarter -- his longest this year, a bowl record and the longest allowed by the Buffs this season -- Whitehurst completed an 11-yard pass on third down to set up first and goal. Two plays later, he scrambled around the right end for a 5-yard touchdown.
He slipped out of Akarika Dawn's grasp at the 5 and strolled in for the score, which made it 13-3.
"I was extremely proud of our team, the way they fought and competed in the most difficult situation, amidst all the distractions, all the things that happened," CU interim head coach Mike Hankwitz said. "I was extremely proud of that. I was disappointed that we couldn’t stop them there at the end when we needed to and give us a chance to win. I’m proud of the coaching staff and the way they conducted themselves in an even more difficult situation, and I’m proud of the players. It’s just one of those disappointing things to come that close, to fight that hard, but I give Clemson a lot of credit. They’re an excellent team.”
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, finished 4-of-12 for 26 yards. He got little help from the running game. The Buffs ran 29 times for 17 yards.
"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 for us."
White was 7-of-12 for 81 yards off the bench and was one of few bright spots offensively for the Buffaloes, though the defense responded by holding Clemson to the fifth fewest points ever allowed by a CU team in 27 bowl appearances. CU also did not commit a turnover for the second straight bowl, a school first, and had at least one interception for the 13th consecutive bowl.
"It was tough," Cox said. "They were getting a lot of pressure. It made it hard to stick to our game plan and get anything going."