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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Clemson 34 Notre Dame 10

December 19, 2020

There’s no way to put lipstick on a pig. That was UGLY.

From the moment Jon Doerer doinked a chip shot off the upright, things went south for Notre Dame. All of the situations the Irish thrived in when these two teams first played went the other way tonight.

They were dominated on 3rd down. They were out rushed by 175 yards . They were out coached and out played.

It’s not the way anyone wanted the regular season to end, but Clemson clearly came out and proved that they’re still Clemson. The Tigers will be in the College Football Playoff and the likely number two seed.

Where does that leave Notre Dame in the playoff picture? We’ll find out tomorrow, but this didn’t help their cause. They deserve to make it even with this ugly loss, but being deserving might not matter with a committee that isn’t exactly consistent with their logic.

- Notre Dame averaged 2.1 yards per carry on first down. That number sticks out because there were so many situations where the offense didn’t give themselves much of a chance to keep the chains moving after the first couple of drives.

Notre Dame had zero 3rd down attempts that were less than five yards in this game. They were 7 of 10 on those shorter 3rd downs in the last game.

3rd and long is death against Brent Venables and the Irish were stuck in 3rd and long all game long

. - Clemson had a Havoc rate of 22.4% in this game. Sacks look bad on the offensive line, but it was more about Clemson containing Book as a runner and the coverage.

How much was it on the coverage and how much was it on Book not letting it go when he needed to? There may have been some instances of Book not being decisive, but there sure didn’t appear to be many people open in this game.

- I can list all of the stats and how lopsided it was. The main thing was what Trevor Lawrence was able to do as a runner. He had 96 yards on 12 carries whether it was designed runs or him escaping the rush.

The times he avoided sacks were huge. He played like he was Alvin Mack and Notre Dame had insulted his Mama. This felt personal to him.

I asked before the game if the Irish defense could make him look mortal. Welp, we got the answer to that question. He’s still Superman minus one game in his college career.

- 9.1% Havoc rate for Notre Dame in the first half is less than half of Notre Dame’s average. The positive is that they played really hard in the second half and started looking more like the defense they’ve been all season, but the fact remains they gave up seven passes of 20 yards or more and seven rushes of 10 yards or more.

- This was much different than the 2018 loss to Clemson in my opinion. That game flipped on Julian Love getting injured. This was a full-game domination by Clemson’s offense against a defense that had shut down a top-five offense only a few weeks ago.

This probably says more about Clemson than it does Notre Dame, but the fact remains that when Clemson is playing at their best, the gap can look as wide as it did tonight if Notre Dame isn’t playing their best as well.

We saw the Irish take it to another level when these two teams played before. If they can’t get to that same level, it won’t matter if they do get picked for the CFP because Alabama and Clemson are going to be at that level no matter who they play.

There is no way to say that this result doesn’t put a damper on what has been a great season for Notre Dame. Now we’ll get to see whether or not they get a chance to atone for their poor performance when they announce who’s in the playoff tomorrow.

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