Clemson Crushes Notre Dame to Reach Its 3rd National Title Game in 4 Seasons


Lawrence finished 27-for-39 passing with 327 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

He busted the game open early in the second quarter, when, after Notre Dame failed to convert a fourth-and-4 in Clemson territory, he hit Justyn Ross, a speedy freshman receiver, down the right sideline for a 52-yard touchdown.

A few drives later, Lawrence threw a perfect pass to Ross, this time on a seam route, for a 42-yard touchdown. Ross had 137 receiving yards in the first half.

The drive that turned Clemson’s halftime lead from just imposing to effectively insurmountable began with 48 seconds left in the half. On third down, Lawrence hit the sophomore Amari Rodgers in the right flat for a first down deep in Clemson’s own territory, and Rodgers shed an attempted tackle, running out of bounds and stopping the clock.

Then Lawrence found the senior receiver Hunter Renfrow — a former walk-on and the hero of the 2017 national title game — in the middle of the field for 32 yards. That play, plus a roughing-the-passer penalty, suddenly put Clemson on Notre Dame’s 19-yard line with nine seconds left and, thanks to Rodgers, a timeout to regroup. On the next play, Lawrence flung a pass to the sophomore Tee Higgins, who bobbled the ball and caught it with just his right hand as he fell out the back of the end zone, making it 23-3.

There were other demoralizations for the Irish. Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet stripped Clemson’s Derion Kendrick on a first-quarter kick return, and the Irish recovered — but not before, according to replay review, the ball’s oblong tip grazed the sideline boundary, giving Clemson possession. A second-half interception by Notre Dame’s Asmar Bilal was also overturned on review.

Later in the third quarter, Clemson’s Nolan Turner picked off a Book pass, setting up a 62-yard touchdown run by Travis Etienne, the Tigers running back who finished with 109 yards on the ground.

With that, Clemson was up by 30-3.

If the Notre Dame fans, who seemed to outnumber the Clemson contingent, could find any consolation at that point, it was this: Pretty soon, there would be only one more quarter left.



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