Clem­son blows out Notre Dame to reach na­tional ti­tle game

The Island Packet (Sunday) - - Front Page -

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.

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