Notre Dame football: A disappointing showing at the ACC Championship

Notre Dame football

Notre Dame football knew Saturday’s game was not going to be like previous games in the regular season, but a 34-10 loss to Clemson was not what it was envisioning. Fighting for its first conference championship in program history, the Irish also had the potential to end Clemson’s five-year streak as ACC Champions. Unfortunately, that business was not attended to. With Trevor Lawrence and a healthy Clemson defense back on the field, Notre Dame could not keep up with the improved Tigers.

Rough start

The Irish had many opportunities in the first half to prevent Clemson from taking a big lead. Taking the lead with a field goal early in the first quarter, Notre Dame seemed to be off to a strong start. Quickly, the odds turned against the Irish. After a Clemson turnover, Notre Dame failed to capitalize with a touchdown. Quarterback Ian Book was put under pressure and overthrew an essential pass on third and goal. To make matters worse after, Irish kicker Jonathan Doerer missed a 24-yard field goal. A great forced turnover early on by the Irish defense was left unrewarded.

After Notre Dame’s missed field goal, the Irish offense could not get the ball rolling. Kyren Williams, a usual standout for Notre Dame, only rushed 50 yards on 15 carries. Book finished with no passing touchdowns, which is unheard of for the athletic graduate student. The Irish offense ended with a total of 263 yards, compared to Clemson’s 541 yards. Book could not catch a break from the Tiger’s defensive pressure, as he was sacked a total of six times.

What happened to the Irish defense?

As the entire Irish offense was off its game, the Notre Dame defense was not much better. To start, the Irish allowed Clemson to score 34 points, which is the most allowed throughout the entire season. Notre Dame’s defense has been praised for some time now, but the Tigers offense brought the Irish back to reality. Notre Dame cornerbacks could not keep up with Clemson wide receivers Amari Rogers and E.J. Williams. And of course, adding Lawrence’s ability to run the field really took the breath out of the Irish defense.

The future of Notre Dame

The College Football Playoff selection show is set to take place on Sunday. Previously, I did not see Notre Dame being affected by a loss from Clemson. That was before I knew the Irish’s performance would heavily disappoint. It is hard to tell what the committee thinks at the moment. They could choose to remember Notre Dame’s double overtime win or embarrassing loss to Clemson.

If anything, the Irish just made the committee’s job more complicated. There will be many questions surrounding if they are worthy enough to be a competitor for the National Championship. What is working in Notre Dame’s favor is the only other team that is in the running for the fourth spot is Texas A&M. Earlier this season, the Aggies suffered a 28 point loss to Alabama. Considering Notre Dame football beat Clemson once in the regular season already, that might be enough to give it a pass over Texas A&M. Hopefully the Irish can find a way to calm their nerves until Sunday’s selection show.

Photo by Ann Curtis | The Observer