Dec. 29, the #3 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish meet the brick wall that is the Clemson Tigers. Clemson wins the Cotton Bowl 30-3.
Dec. 14, a heated argument spurs in the WRIU meeting room about the validity of the CFB playoff bracket. Calls for Georgia to Ohio State ring through the halls to no avail. The outrage over Notre Dame making the playoffs rings through the Kingston memorial union. Claims that Notre Dame had a weak schedule and is not even in a power conference are the pinnacle discussion points. An un-invested Sean Anderson attempts to moderate the fiery discussion. “The CFB playoffs have been consistent with the top 4 teams for the last four years,” I say. I believed the the track record for deciding the best teams in the nation could speak for itself. I was wrong.
Dec. 29, I watch the entirety of the 2018 Cotton Bowl featuring Notre Dame and Clemson. The savagery I witnessed from the Clemson team that took the field was nothing short of breathtaking. Clemson owned every inch of the field tonight. Trevor Lawrence (27-39, 327 YDS, 3 TD’s) was outstanding, Travis Etienne (14 RUSH, 109 YDS, 1 TD) was a force that could not be held, and Justyn Ross (6 REC, 148 YDS, 2 TD) was seemingly open on every play.
As good as the Clemson offense was, their defense was a brick wall that even Stone Freeman couldn’t run through. Clemson held Notre Dame to only 248 total yards on offense, forced two turnovers, and held Dexter Williams to just 54 yards rushing.
The first time that Notre Dame has made the CFB playoffs since its’ genesis they lay an egg. They were outclassed, outcoached, and out of answers for the Clemson front seven. This game gives me a higher level of respect for the teams that have to earn every win in their conferences. Sure, they beat Michigan and USC, but in a power five conference I do not see them eclipsing 8 wins.
Hindsight is always 20/20 right?