No. 2 Clemson Knocks Off No. 3 Notre Dame in CFP Semifinal Cotton Bowl
ARLINGTON, Texas – The No. 2 Clemson football team advanced to its third College Football Playoff National Championship in four years by defeating the No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 30-3, on Saturday afternoon in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium. With the win, Clemson remained undefeated at 13-0 overall, while Notre Dame concluded its season at 12-1.
Trevor Lawrence completed 27 of 39 pass attempts for 327 yards and three touchdowns, including 19 of 26 for 264 yards and a pair of touchdown passes to Justyn Ross in the first half alone. Travis Etienne ran for 109 yards on 14 carries, including a 62-yard touchdown run that pushed him past Wayne Gallman’s 2015 mark for the most rushing yards in a single season. Austin Bryant’s two sacks and six total tackles were one of the main sparks of a defensive effort that only allowed three points to a Notre Dame team averaging over 33 per game this season.
Both defenses proved stout in the first quarter, as Notre Dame held Clemson to a Greg Huegel 40-yard field goal set up by a Clelin Ferrell-forced fumble with eight and a half minutes remaining in the quarter, and the Tigers, in turn, only gave up an Irish 28-yard field goal four minutes later to leave the score knotted at 3-3 after the first 15 minutes. That Justin Yoon field goal proved to be the only scoring that the Clemson defense allowed to the Irish all game.
The Tigers first found the endzone on a 52-yard scoring connection from Lawrence to Ross that put Clemson at a 9-3 advantage with just over two minutes gone in the second quarter. Ross went on to bookend the quarter with scores, as he hauled in a 42-yard pass from Lawrence for his second touchdown of the day 11 minutes later. Tee Higgins then sealed the quarter with an acrobatic 19-yard touchdown reception that gave Clemson a 23-3 lead at the half.
The first score of the third quarter, and what would ultimately be the final score of the game, came with two minutes remaining in the quarter, when Etienne broke away for the 62-yard touchdown rush that was set up by a Nolan Turner interception three plays earlier. A scoreless fourth quarter left the final score at 30-3.
Clemson will play next in the College Football Playoff National Championship at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. on Monday, Jan. 7 against the winner of tonight’s Capital One Orange Bowl between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma. Fans wishing to secure official Clemson travel packages are encouraged to act now by visiting ClemsonSportsTravel.com to book their trips while availability lasts. Fans are also encouraged to visit the Clemson Tigers Store to get official College Football Playoff merchandise.