Score: Clemson 23 Notre Dame 3
Derion Kendrick’s kickoff return was initially ruled a fumble inside the ten, but it was overturned by a sliver (out of bounds) and thus Notre Dame lost a chance to make a 3-3 tie a 10-3 lead.
The game was a defensive slugfest until Julian Love left the game with an injury – Trevor Lawrence took advantage of his absence and threw a 52-yard touchdown to Justyn Ross, the first of three first-half touchdown throws. Clemson’s last touchdown with two seconds remaining may have been the dagger for the Irish.
Trevor Lawrence has moved within the pocket well, evading defenders multiple times to fire off a pass. Justyn Ross has played exceptionally well as his current favorite target, with five catches, 137 yards, and two scores at the half.
Clemson’s defense held on while Clemson’s offense established a rhythm and built a lead – now the Tigers can play with their ears pinned back and even more aggressively.
Areas for Improvement:
Clemson’s pass protection is not doing Trevor Lawrence any favors. Despite his two scoring touchdowns, he has taken major hits that could impact his play in the second half.
The Tigers have made several poor plays on special teams: a barely overturned fumble on a kickoff return, a missed 49-yard field goal, a blocked extra point, and a punting average of 38 yards per punt make for a discouraging special teams performance.
What to Watch:
Clemson’s last touchdown with two seconds left in the half gave the Tigers a major boost into halftime. If Notre Dame wants to close the 20-point lead, they will need to have Julian Love and others healthy, and gain offensive momentum fast.