NCAA Football: Gator Bowl-Clemson at Kentucky

Some bowl games are better than others, and the Gator Bowl matchup Friday afternoon between No. 22 Clemson and Kentucky was one for the ages. The Tigers topped the Wildcats 38-35 in one of the wildest college football games of the season, featuring a bowl record 42 points, five turnovers and five lead changes in the fourth quarter alone. 

A stamp was finally put on the back-and-forth affair when Tigers running back Phil Mafah scored his bowl-record fourth rushing touchdown of the day -- and third of the fourth quarter -- with 17 seconds left in the game to give Clemson the lead, which was followed by a successful 2-point conversion. 

Here's a look at everything that transpired inside EverBank Stadium during a crazy final 15 minutes of football: 

  • On the first play of the fourth quarter, Mafah scores on a 1-yard touchdown run to cut Kentucky's lead to 21-16.
  • Three plays later, Kentucky quarterback Devin Leary fumbles, which Clemson's Justin Mascoll recovers.
  • On the next play, Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik is intercepted by Kentucky's Jordan Lovett.
  • Leary is intercepted again by Clemson's Barrett Carter on the Wildcats' ensuing drive, which the Tigers turn into a field goal to cut the lead to 21-19.
  • Kentucky's Barion Brown loses a fumble on the very next offensive play, which Mafah converts to a touchdown one play later as Clemson takes a 27-21 lead.
  • The Wildcats immediately retake the lead on the third play of the ensuing drive with a 60-yard bomb from Leary to Brown.
  • Clemson then takes the lead back, 30-28, with a 52-yard field goal, another bowl record, that bounces off the crossbar.
  • Kentucky gives the game its fourth lead change of the day on a 1-yard touchdown run by Ray Davis, which was set up by a 72-yard pass from Leary to Jordan Dingle.
  • Mafah caps off a 12-play drive with a 3-yard, go-ahead touchdown run with 17 seconds to play.
  • Leary is intercepted for the second time to seal the game.

The fourth quarter was so wild, in fact, that Brown's 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half to give Kentucky an 11-point lead is almost an afterthought. 

With the win, Clemson extends its winning streak to five games and caps off a 9-4 season. That's remarkable considering Swinney's squad started 2-2 with an offense that looked lost during the first month of the season. The loss drops Kentucky to 7-6 after the Wildcats started the season 5-0.