Notre Dame Vs. #4 Clemson: How the Irish Broke Down the Tigers
Last Saturday, the number four ranked team in the country stormed into Notre Dame Stadium undefeated and undaunted. The Tigers had Playoff aspirations.
Notre Dame, who for all intents and purposes was having a disappointing season, sitting at 5-3, with losses to Marshall and Stanford in the same building Clemson was coming into.
A 3.5-point underdog at home, hope among Irish faithful was waning as gameday approached. What answer would Notre Dame have for Clemson running back Will Shipley? Would the struggling Irish secondary be able to hold up against the Clemson passing attack? The general consensus among college football pundits and fans alike was that a Clemson blowout win was all but assured going into the contest. They said Marcus Freeman was still trying to figure it out in South Bend, and in a rebuilding year for Notre Dame Dabo Swinney’s Tigers would have every advantage against the sometimes anemic Irish offense and struggling defense.
The experts couldn’t have been farther from the truth of the matter. From the opening kickoff to the closing moments, the Irish had their way with the Tigers. The final score was 35-14, but the Irish led for 28 points for most of the game, and this time Notre Dame fans got to beat Clemson with a full stadium (last win was during pandemic season, 2020), and rushed the field in true, full-fledged, frenzied passion.
Q1, 9:08 – It Started on Special Teams
Notre Dame flexed its special teams muscles again to start things off. Coming into the contest, the Irish led the nation with 5 blocked punts on the year and got their 6th after stopping Clemson on their first offensive possession. Jordan Botelho got a hand on the punt, and it fell right into Prince Kollie’s arms and the Irish jumped out in front, 7-0.
Q2, 0:38 – Drew Pyne Shows He Can Run Too
After the special teams touchdown early on, the game featured 5 punts, a turnover on downs, and a missed field goal. It wasn’t pretty football for much of the first half, and it felt like neither team would get it together. Notre Dame got it together at the end of the first half to the tune of an 11 play, 78-yard touchdown drive that Drew Pyne capped off with his first rushing touchdown of the year, a play call that froze Clemson’s defense and almost certainly stunned everyone watching, because Drew Pyne’s rushing ability was not a part of the offense to put it lightly. He used it here and ND went up 14-0.