Clemson blows out Notre Dame to reach national title game
When Clemson’s Dabo Swinney entrusted a team with championship aspirations to freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence in September, this is what the Tigers’ coach had in mind.
Lawrence threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns and No. 2 Clemson beat No. 3 Notre Dame 30-3 on Saturday in the Cotton Bowl to reach the College Football Playoff title game. The Tigers (14-0) will play ei- ther No. 1 Alabama – for a fourth straight season in the playoff – or No. 4 Oklahoma on Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, California.
“This is what we came here to do,” Swinney said. “This senior group just won their 54th game and they’re going back to their third national championship in four years.”
Clemson’s overpowering and experienced defensive line, led by ends Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, smothered Ian Book and the Fighting Irish (12-1), holding them to 248 yards. “Our guys, they got it done in the trenches,” Swinney said.
On offense, freshmen led the way. Lawrence, making his 10th career start, was 27 for 39 and did not throw an interception against a Notre Dame defense that had been one of the best on the country. Freshman receiver Justyn Ross had six catches for 148 yards and two long touchdowns.
The Irish hung around for a quarter. But early in the second quarter, Notre Dame All-America cornerback Julian Love went out with what coach Brian Kelly said after the game was a head injury and Lawrence started taking apart the Irish secondary.
With a powerful arm, quick release, poise in the pocket and signature flowing blond hair, Lawrence is positioned to be- come one of college football’s biggest stars. He will try to become the first true freshman quarterback to lead his team to a national title since Oklahoma’s Jamelle Holieway in 1985.
Clemson receiver Justyn Ross fends off Notre Dame safety Jalen Elliott and gets into the end zone for a 52-yard touchdown in the first half of Saturday in the College Football Playoff semifinals.