American Football Database
1986 Mazda Gator Bowl
Bowl Game
1 2 3 4 Total
Stanford University 0 0 7 14 21
Clemson University 7 20 0 0 27
Date December 27, 1986
Season 1986
Stadium Gator Bowl Stadium
Location Jacksonville, Florida
MVP Rodney Williams, QB (Clemson)
Brad Muster, RB (Stanford)
United States TV coverage
Network CBS
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Pat Haden, and John Dockery
Gator Bowl
 < 1985  1987

The 1986 Gator Bowl game was a post-season college football bowl game between the Stanford Cardinal and the Clemson Tigers, and was played on December 27, 1986, at Gator Bowl Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. It was the forty-second edition of the bowl game.


Stanford Cardinal

Under third-year head coach Jack Elway, Stanford was making its first bowl appearance since the 1978 Bluebonnet Bowl. The Cardinal was led by running back Brad Muster, who was only the second Cardinal back to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season.[1] Stanford's starting quarterback, John Paye, was sidelined for the game due to a shoulder injury and backup Greg Ennis was named the starter.[1][2]

Clemson Tigers

The champions of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Clemson had recorded ties in its last two regular season games.[1] Under head coach Danny Ford, the Tigers were led by tailbacks Kenny Flowers and Terrence Flagler.[1]

Game summary

Clemson completely dominated the first half of the game, recording 291 yards of offense and 15 first downs, and scored touchdowns on runs from quarterback Rodney Williams and backs Chris Lancaster and Ray Williams.[2] David Treadwell added two field goals to put the Tigers up 27–0 at halftime.[2]

Stanford recovered in the second half, holding the Tigers scoreless while gradually bringing the score closer. Muster scored on a one-yard run in the third quarter, and then twice more on fourth quarter passes from Ennis.[2] The Cardinal had several chances to tie or win the game, but Ennis was intercepted inside the 10 yard line on one drive, and turned the ball over on downs with less than two minutes remaining.[2]


First quarter

Second quarter

  • Clemson - Rodney Williams 1-yard run (Treadwell kick)
  • Clemson - Treadwell 22-yard field goal
  • Clemson - Ray Williams 14-yard run
  • Clemson - Treadwell 46-yard field goal

Third quarter

Fourth quarter

  • Stanford - Muster 13-yard pass from Greg Ennis (Sweeney kick)
  • Stanford - Muster 37-yard pass from Ennis (Sweeney kick)


This was the first of a run of three straight ACC titles for Danny Ford's Clemson teams. This was Coach Elway's only winning season with the Cardinal.

Muster and Rodney Williams shared Most Valuable Player honors. Muster would go on to play for the NFL's Chicago Bears. Junior Clemson kicker David Treadwell was named a 1987 consensus All-American and would go on to a successful NFL kicking career with the Denver Broncos and New York Giants.