NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL NOTES VS. CLEMSON
NOTRE DAME SPORTS INFORMATION
College Football Playoff Semifinal at the 83rd Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
WHO: #3/3 Notre Dame (12-0) vs. #2 Clemson (13-0, 8-0 ACC)
WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 29 | 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT
WHERE: AT&T Stadium | Arlington, TX
WATCH: ESPN (Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe & Tom Rinaldi)
LISTEN: Notre Dame Radio Network (Paul Burmeister, Ryan Harris & Jack Nolan | 101.5 FM & 960 AM (South Bend) | SiriusXM 129 |
COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF
THE CLEMSON SERIES • Notre Dame and Clemson meet for the fourth time in series history when they face off in the Cotton Bowl Classic, with the Tigers ahead in the all-time series 2-1. • The Irish and Tigers split a home-and-home series in the late 1970s with Notre Dame beating Clemson, 21-17, in Clemson, on Nov. 12, 1977, and the Tigers beating the Irish at Notre Dame Stadium, 16-10, on Nov. 17, 1979. • In the most recent meeting, Clemson stopped a Notre Dame two-point conversion attempt with seven seconds left to escape, 24-22 over the Irish, on Oct. 3, 2015. • In the 1977 contest, Irish quarterback Joe Montana showed signs of future late-game dominance to come. The Irish trailed 17-7 after three quarters but two fourth quarter touchdown runs by Montana lifted Notre Dame to a 21-17 win at “Death Valley.” The four-point margin of victory would be Notre Dame’s closest win en route to the school’s 10th consensus national championship. • In the 1979 contest, the Irish took a 10-0 halftime lead on a Vagas Ferguson touchdown run and Chuck Male field goal, but the Tigers scored 16 unanswered second half points to claim the victory, 16-10. Obed Ariri had three field goals and Billy Lott ran for a 26- yard touchdown that provided the winning margin. Ferguson led Notre Dame with 110 rushing yards while Bob Crable made 26 tackles to pace the Irish defense. • As a part of its 12-year scheduling agreement with the Atlantic Coast Conference, Clemson will play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2020 and 2022. Notre Dame will play at Clemson again in 2023. * Excludes 20 regular-season wins
1925 Notre Dame appeared in its first bowl game on Jan. 1, 1925, a 27-10 win over Stanford in the Rose Bowl Game. The Irish claimed the first consensus national championship in program history in 1924.
70.4 Ian Book ranks fifth among all quarterbacks in the FBS this season with a 70.4 completion percentage over his nine games played under center.
17 Notre Dame enters the 2018 Cotton Bowl Classic with *17 official bowl wins to its credit in program history.
10TH Notre Dame is the 10th different program to qualify for the semifinal round of the College Football Playoff since it was introduced during the 2014 season.
9 Notre Dame reached nine consecutive January bowl games under head coach Lou Holtz from the 1988 Cotton Bowl Classic through the 1996 Orange Bowl.
8 Notre Dame makes its eighth appearance in the Cotton Bowl Classic, the most common bowl game that the Irish have competed in since making their bowl debut in the 1925 Rose Bowl. Notre Dame is 5-2 in prior trips to the Cotton Bowl Classic.
7 Notre Dame held USC to just seven points in the second half on Nov. 24, and ultimately outscored the Trojans 24-7 over the game’s final 42-plus minutes.
6 Chase Claypool has logged six different games this season in which he has made at least four receptions and gained at least 50 receiving yards.
5 Dexter Williams had a career-high five catches for 54 yards out of the Notre Dame backfield in the 24-17 win at USC on Nov. 24.
4TH Notre Dame and Clemson are set to meet for the fourth time in series history when they collide at the Cotton Bowl Classic. The Tigers lead the all-time series 2-1.
3 Notre Dame is the only team in the FBS with three different 200-yard rushers over the past two seasons (Brandon Wimbush, Josh Adams – 2017; Dexter Williams – 2018).
2 Ian Book has thrown at least two touchdown passes in each of his first eight starts in 2018 entering the Cotton Bowl Classic.
1 Notre Dame finished the regular season as the lone undefeated team nationally to exclusively face FBS competition. Clemson is the 13th different Irish FBS foe (11th from a Power Five conference).
0 The Irish completed an undefeated season at Notre Dame Stadium for the second time in four seasons (2015, also 6-0). From 1990-2011, only the 1998 campaign (6-0) saw a perfect Notre Dame home slate.
Notre Dame and Clemson meet for the fourth time in series history when they face off in the Cotton Bowl Classic, with the Tigers ahead in the all-time series 2-1. • The Irish and Tigers split a home-and-home series in the late 1970s with Notre Dame beating Clemson, 21-17, in Clemson, on Nov. 12, 1977, and the Tigers beating the Irish at Notre Dame Stadium, 16-10, on Nov. 17, 1979. • In the most recent meeting, Clemson stopped a Notre Dame two-point conversion attempt with seven seconds left to escape, 24-22 over the Irish, on Oct. 3, 2015. • In the 1977 contest, Irish quarterback Joe Montana showed signs of future late-game dominance to come. The Irish trailed 17-7 after three quarters but two fourth-quarter touchdown runs by Montana lifted Notre Dame to a 21-17 win at “Death Valley.” The four-point margin of victory would be Notre Dame’s closest win en route to the school’s 10th consensus national championship. • In the 1979 contest, the Irish took a 10-0 halftime lead on a Vagas Ferguson touchdown run and Chuck Male field goal, but the Tigers scored 16 unanswered second half points to claim the victory, 16-10. Obed Ariri had three field goals and Billy Lott ran for a 26- yard touchdown that provided the winning margin. Ferguson led Notre Dame with 110 rushing yards while Bob Crable made 26 tackles to pace the Irish defense. • As a part of its 12-year scheduling agreement with the Atlantic Coast Conference, Clemson will play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2020 and 2022. Notre Dame will play at Clemson again in 2023.
For the sixth straight week, Notre Dame remained stationary among the 25 best teams in the nation according to both the Associated Press and the Amway Coaches polls, slotted third nationally following a 24-17 win over USC at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Nov. 24. The Irish were also third in the selection Sunday College Football Playoff Top 25 that was unveiled on Dec. 2. • After the opening 13 weeks of the season, Notre Dame is one of four FBS football teams that has posted an undefeated record. Of the four remaining undefeated teams from college football’s top division, Notre Dame is the only one to have exclusively played FBS competition this season. • Including the 2018 season, Notre Dame, USC and UCLA are the only teams in the FBS to have never played an opponent from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). No. 1 Alabama faced FCS foe The Citadel on Nov. 17, in Tuscaloosa, No. 2 Clemson hosted Furman on Sept. 1 and No. 5 Georgia hosted Austin Peay also on Sept. 1. • Notre Dame has opened in the top 10 of the College Football Playoff rankings in four of the five years of the poll’s existence since its debut in 2014, and reached the semifinals of the CFP for the first time this season. The Irish were 10th in the first CFP poll in 2014, fifth in 2015 (eighth in the 2015 final poll) and third in 2017 (14th in the 2017 final poll).
- Notre Dame earned its third* win in the past five trips to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with a 24-17 win over USC on Nov. 24. The Irish had not won in three of five games at USC since 1988-1996 (three wins, one tie). • Notre Dame’s win over USC (USC fell to 5-7) ensured just the fifth seven-loss season for the Trojans in program history. • Notre Dame held USC to 83 yards of total offense in the third quarter, outscoring the Trojans 10-0. The Irish improved to +58 (103-45) in the third quarter this season. • Notre Dame held USC to just seven points in the second half, limiting the Trojans to 154 yards in the final 30 minutes that featured a 24-0 Irish scoring run (17-7 for the half). • Along with stifling the USC offense in the second half, Notre Dame outgained the Trojans 263-154 after falling behind 10-7 at the break (289-210 USC edge in the opening half).
- With the 24-17 win at USC on Nov. 24, Notre Dame improved to 21-2 (.913) in its past 23 games since a 49-20 win at Boston College on Sept. 16, 2017. • The current string matched the most recent stretch of 21 Notre Dame wins in 23 games played that spanned Oct. 24, 1992 through Oct. 1, 1994. • In its 21-win surge over the past 23 games, Notre Dame has earned seven wins against top-25 foes. In the most recent stretch from October of 1992 into the 1994 season, the Irish also managed seven wins against ranked opponents in that span that included downing No. 1 Florida State 31-24 on Nov. 13, 1993, No. 22 Penn State 17-16 in the famous “Snow Bowl” game on Nov. 14, 1992 at Notre Dame Stadium and Texas A&M twice in both the 1993 (No. 4, 28-3) and 1994 (No. 7, 24-21) Cotton Bowl. • Dating back to the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1 against LSU, Notre Dame has fashioned 13 straight wins overall. It is the third-longest winning streak in Notre Dame football history.
- Notre Dame raced out to its second 12-0 start under head coach Brian Kelly following the 24-17 win over USC, equaling a similar fast start in 2012.* Notre Dame has now reached 12-0 for just the third time in program history, adding a similar effort in 1988 to the two occurrences in the last seven years. • The 2018 season also marks the first time the Irish have opened 12-0 in a given season with at least four wins over ranked foes since 1988, and only the second time officially in team history (all 12 wins in 2012, which included four top-25 wins, were later vacated by the NCAA Committee on Infractions). • This season’s edition of Notre Dame football was the first in the Kelly era to win the first three games without ever trailing or being tied after scoring the game’s first points. A Wake Forest field goal in the first quarter of game four marked the only time the Irish had trailed all season at the time, just 2:13 of game action, before a 30-yard Jafar Armstrong touchdown rush tipped the scales back in Notre Dame’s favor. Notre Dame has only trailed an opponent thrice, for just over 70 total minutes of game action against Wake Forest, Pittsburgh and Southern Cal, this season. • While the 2012 team opened 5-0 without ever officially trailing on the scoreboard during a game, Purdue was able to tie Notre Dame twice, in the second quarter at 7-7 and in the fourth quarter at 17-17 before current quarterbacks coach Tom Rees engineered the game-winning Irish two-minute drill for a *20-17 victory on Sept. 8 of that year to improve to 3-0. • In fact, Notre Dame’s 3-0 start while remaining ahead on the scoreboard without ties was believed to be the first of its kind for the Irish since the fall of 1989. That season, Notre Dame finished 12-1 under legendary head coach Lou Holtz and downed No. 1 Colorado 21-6 to claim the 1990 Orange Bowl and a final Associated Press ranking of second. • To open the campaign on Aug. 31, 1989, Notre Dame breezed past Virginia 36-13 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Irish built a 33-0 lead after the first half of play that was keyed by rushing touchdowns from Anthony Johnson (two), Tony Rice, Ricky Watters and Rodney Culver. • In a one versus two matchup two weeks later at Michigan Stadium, the top-ranked Irish led throughout against No. 2 Michigan in a 24-19 win on Sept. 16 in Ann Arbor. Anthony Johnson scored a six-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to put Notre Dame on the board, and although Michigan answered with a touchdown of its own just before the half the Wolverines were unable to convert the PAT. The Irish lead grew as high as 12 points (24-12) early in the fourth quarter thanks to a 92-yard kickoff return touchdown by the electric Raghib “Rocket” Ismail. • No. 1 Notre Dame found itself in a dogfight once more during the 1989 home opener on Sept. 23 against Michigan State, but came out on the right side of a 21-13 win in front of a capacity crowd of 59,075 at Notre Dame Stadium. Watters scored touchdowns from two yards and 53 yards out during the first half to build a 14-0 Notre Dame lead, and two Spartan field goals in the second quarter and a touchdown in the third quarter trimmed the Irish advantage to 14-13. Notre Dame put the game away on a one-yard touchdown run by Johnson with just over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter.
- Of the first 51 Notre Dame touchdown drives in 2018, a total of 34 have covered 70 or more yards. The Irish registered touchdown drives of 75, 96, 75, 74, 94, 75, 75, 80, 75, 74, 71, 75, 85, 77, 80, 75, 95, 70, 71, 80, 73, 80, 83, 75, 75, 79, 80, 98, 89, 81, 75, 97, 80 and 70 yards to start this season against Michigan, Ball State, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Stanford, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Navy, Northwestern, Florida State, Syracuse and USC. • The Irish finished the 2017 season with a total of 34 scoring drives (32 touchdown drives) that covered at least 70 yards. • The Irish recorded touchdowns on four consecutive possessions in the first half against Wake Forest on Sept. 22. The last time Notre Dame converted four consecutive possessions for touchdowns was Nov. 12, 2016 against Army in San Antonio. After returning the game’s opening kickoff for a score, the next five Irish possessions were three more touchdowns, a field goal and another touchdown. The last time the offense scored four consecutive touchdowns (without a special teams or defensive score) was on Sept. 10, 2016, in a 39-10 win over Nevada.
The Notre Dame offense has averaged a dynamic 37.2 points per game in its last nine wins over Wake Forest (56-27, Sept. 22), No. 7 Stanford (38-17, Sept. 29), No. 24 Virginia Tech (45-23, Oct. 6), Pittsburgh (19-14, Oct. 13), Navy (44-22, Oct. 27), Northwestern (31-21, Nov. 3), Florida State (42-13), No. 12 Syracuse (36-3) and USC (24-17). • The current nine-game surge is the second Notre Dame streak of nine games in as many seasons in which the Irish have averaged over 37 points per game. Notre Dame accomplished the feat from Sept. 16 through Nov. 18 in consecutive games in 2017. • Notre Dame’s performances away from home have been particularly impressive, as the 56 points at Wake Forest, the 45 points at Virginia Tech and the 44 points against Navy in San Diego marked the first time that the Irish had scored 44 or more points in three straight performances away from Notre Dame Stadium in nearly 25 years. • On Oct. 2, 1993, Notre Dame improved to 5-0 with a 48-20 drubbing of Stanford at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California. McDougal rushed for two touchdowns and Derrick Mayes added two scoring receptions for the Irish in the win over the Cardinal, which saw Notre Dame outscore the hosts by a combined 35-14 score in the second half.
- Following a 44-0 shutout of Pittsburgh the very next weekend at Notre Dame Stadium, the Irish turned up the offensive jets on the road yet again on Oct. 16, 1993 at BYU. Notre Dame scored 31 unanswered points out of the gate, and a 122-yard rushing day for Lee Becton carried the day in a 42-20 win over the Cougars in Provo, Utah. Becton, Ray Zellars and Marc Edwards (two) all scored rushing touchdowns for Notre Dame in the win at BYU, while Michael Miller hauled in a touchdown catch apiece from Kevin McDougal and Paul Failla. • Notre Dame erased a 10-3 deficit in the first quarter with 55 of the final 72 points in what became a 58-27 rout of Navy on Oct. 30, 1993 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. The Irish racked up an impressive 426 net rushing yards on 63 attempts. accounting for 604 yards of total offense. Lee Becton (124 yards) and Randy Kinder (108 yards) each went over the 100-yard plateau on the ground, while Marc Edwards scored a team-high three rushing touchdowns. Kevin McDougal finished 9-of-15 passing for 170 yards and a 44-yard touchdown to Lake Dawson. Bobby Taylor capped the Notre Dame scoring with a 31-yard interception return touchdown in the fourth quarter.