Number four Notre Dame knocked off number one Clemson 47-40 in double overtime. This is the first time the Irish have beaten a team ranked number one since 1993. Just for context, “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston was the number one song in 1993. Without a doubt, this was the best game Notre Dame has played in a long, long time.
Book Has His Best Chapter
Ian Book has been an interesting character in Notre Dame’s story since arrived on campus. He has never lost at home and has a record of 30-3 since 2018. He also is fifth in passing yards and second in passing touchdowns in Notre Dame history. But he has always struggled in the big games. The pressure has mounted time and time again, but Brian Kelly has never lost hope in him, and it has shown. Book did not light up the stat sheet last night, but he made the throws he needed to make. He lost one fumble, that was almost catastrophic, but he came back out to throw the game-tying touchdown to Avery Davis with 22 seconds left.
Running back Kyren Williams ran all over Clemson. He started the game with a 65-yard touchdown run and ended the game with 140 yards and three touchdowns. His third touchdown was the touchdown that won it. He ran behind one of the best and most experienced offensive lines in the country, and that showed. Holes to run through were frequent in the first half and overtime, making it easy for Williams to make something happen.
Defense Stepped Up
Stopping Travis Etienne was the number one concern for Notre Dame. Etienne has been borderline unstoppable all season and is in the Heisman conversation. They needed to stop him if they wanted any chance at all. And that’s exactly what they did. He only ran for 28 yards on 18 carries. He also had one fumble, which ended up being recovered for a touchdown by Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. There was almost nowhere to go for Etienne and the effort by the Irish defense was sensational.
Even though freshman quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei (oo-ee-ANH-gah-leh-lay) threw for 439 yards and two touchdowns, the defense got the last laugh. Sacks by Ade Ogundeji and Jeremiah Owusu-Koarmoah finished Clemson off.
Kelly’s Marquee Win
In recent memory, Notre Dame has fallen short. The Irish are 1-16 against top-five teams since 1998, and some of them have not been close. Head coach Brian Kelly has been criticized for a long time for not being able to beat the big teams. They came close last season against Georgia but fell short.
Kelly finally got his marquee win with his Irish after a long road. He finished 2016 at 4-8, and his seat was hotter than a ghost pepper. Kelly then took a step back and took a long look at his program. He changed up his coaching style and how he recruits, and it has paid off. This Clemson win is what he has been looking for. Something he and the program needed.
These two teams will most likely meet again in December for the ACC Championship game. I don’t think anyone would mind if they met again. And next time, Clemson will have Trevor Lawrence, James Skalski, and Tyler Davis back. Notre Dame needed this, and it will be remembered for a very long time. It was an all-time heavyweight bout between two of college football’s most famous programs.