Clemson Demolishes Irish in Cotton Bowl Playoff Semi-Final 30-3

ARLINGTON, TX – 

 

Clemson leaves no question who was the better team in Dallas on Saturday evening. With a resounding 30-3 win over a Fighting Irish team that was ready to prove all the critics wrong about their season.  The 12-0 Irish were stymied time and time again by a stingy and dominate Clemson defense. 

 

Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson offense took some time to get its feet under them. Trevor who finished the night as offensive MVP with a 327 yard- 3 TD performance.  Clemson was able to hit on several big plays.  Including two huge touchdowns by freshman phenom Wideout Justyn Ross. All night the Clemson offense found ways to move the ball.  And when the big play was needed it usually was supplied by the Lawrence to Ross combination. 

 

 

 

All Night long the Irish just could not get into a flow on offense and it never transpired.  The Clemson defense over and over shutting down the Notre Dame offense.  The Tigers and defensive co ordinator Brent Venables frustrated Quarterback Ian Book all evening by pressing his wideouts at the line of scrimmage and forcing him to make a second read. 

 

But with the constant pressure being put on by the Clemson defense they made it an unattainable goal to get to that second or third progression in the route tree. And with the Notre Dame run game being shut down to a non factor.  An impressive performance by the Tigers in all areas. 

 

Meanwhile Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson offense racks up 30 points on 538 yards and at the same time holding Notre Dame to a paltry 248 yards on 60 plays. 

 

Clemson now heads back to South Carolina to prepare for the winner of the Alabama vs Oklahoma Semi Final being played in Miami this same night. Clemson can now start “California Dreaming” as the Tigers now await another trip to the National Championship to be held on January 7th in Santa Clara, Ca.  For Clemson this makes a third appearance in the National Championship game in 4 years. 

 

 

 

 

 

 Dabo Swinney Post Game Presser Opening Statement :

 

 

 

 

COACH SWINNEY: All right. I’m just thankful that we got the opportunity to be up here (on stage) because that means that we won the game. We achieved our goal. I’m really proud of our team and our staff. Just an amazing performance. A dominant performance. Obviously, had some adversity. But these guys stepped up and did an awesome job.

I want to congratulate Notre Dame on a phenomenal year. They had a great year and a heck of a football team, for sure. And I certainly know they’re disappointed, but a very well-coached team and nothing to be down about. Those guys have got it going in the right direction there. But just proud of our guys for the grit and toughness and heart they played with.

I want to say thanks to the Cotton Bowl folks. We’ve had an amazing week here. The hospitality has been incredible from the hotel to the police officers, everybody. So we just appreciate everybody’s effort to make it a great week for us.

And then I want to thank our fans. They were awesome tonight. I mean, it was an amazing crowd. And the energy from our fans was tremendous. But at the end of the day, it’s about these guys (indicating players on stage). And we’ve got a freshman [Trevor Lawrence] and a senior [Austin Bryant].

Our seniors, what can you say? They got their 54th win tonight. I mean, the leadership is special.

And then Trevor [Lawrence] — him and number 8 (Justyn Ross) got it going early. That was the spark that we needed. And the big plays were definitely the difference in the game.

Notre Dame came into this game hardly giving up any big plays, and we were one of the leaders in the country in big plays. So really proud of Trevor and his poise and how he managed the game the whole way through.

So phenomenal night. We’re going to celebrate this tonight. And we’re going to load up and get back to Clemson and get ready to go to California.

 

 

GAME NOTES:

  • The game marked Clemson’s second appearance in the Cotton Bowl Classic and its first since the 1940 Cotton Bowl following the 1939 season. In that game, the Tigers defeated No. 11 Boston College, 6-3, in what was Clemson’s first win against a Top 20 team and the first bowl game in program history.

  • Clemson’s participation in the game pushed the school’s program-record streak of consecutive seasons with bowl appearances to 14 years. The streak is the eighth-longest in the country and the second-longest in the ACC.

  • Clemson entered the game at 13-0 and Notre Dame entered at 12-0, making the game the first between undefeated teams in College Football Playoff history.

  • During the contest, Clemson became only the second team in ACC history to score 600 points in a single season (723, Florida State in 2013). Clemson now has 620 points this season.

  • Clemson gained 538 yards of offense. With the performance, Clemson reached the 7,000-yard mark on offense this season, marking only the third 7,000-yard season in school history (2015 and 2016).

  • Clemson rushed for 236 yards and now has 3,613 rushing yards this season, breaking the school record for rushing yards in a single season, held previously by the 1978 Tigers (3,469).

  • Clemson eclipsed 300 passing yards and 200 rushing yards. Clemson is now 41-0 when both passing and rushing for 200+ yards under Dabo Swinney.

  • Clemson outrushed Notre Dame, 211-88. Clemson has outrushed opponents 13 times this season. The Tigers have outrushed opponents in 24 of their 28 games since 2017 and are 24-0 when outrushing opponents in that time frame. 

  • Clemson added to its existing school record by scoring at least 27 points in a 14th straight game.

  • Clemson extended its school record by winning its ninth consecutive game by 20 or more points for the first time in school history.

  • The victory was Clemson’s 12th of 20 points or more this season, tying the 2013 Florida State Seminoles for the most by an ACC team since 2000.

  • Clemson outscored Notre Dame, 20-0, in the second quarter. Clemson has now outscored opponents, 211-38, in the second quarter this season. Clemson’s 211 points in the second quarter are the most by any team in any quarter since 2015, according to ESPN Stats & Info. 

  • Clemson recorded six sacks, tying its school-record six sacks in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl against LSU. 

  • Clemson registered at least four sacks in an eighth game this season, matching the mark set by the 2015 Tigers for the most in Swinney’s tenure.

  • On its fourth sack of the game, Clemson (52) broke the school record for sacks in a season (49 in 2016). It represents the first 50-sack season in school history.

  • Clemson allowed only three points, the fewest ever scored by Notre Dame in a bowl game. The 27-point defeat tied for the fourth-largest margin of defeat in Notre Dame’s bowl history.

  • Clemson limited Notre Dame to a season-low 248 yards.

  • Quarterback Trevor Lawrence earned Offensive MVP honors after completing 27-39 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns. Those three passing touchdowns set a College Football Playoff record for a semifinal game.

  • Lawrence completed 19-26 passes for 264 yards with three touchdowns in the first half alone. His 264 yards were his most in a first half this season, surpassing his 217-yard first half against South Carolina. The total also set a first-half Cotton Bowl record, surpassing the 249 posted by Baylor’s Bryce Petty in the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic.

  • Lawrence became only the second player to throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns in a College Football Playoff game, joining former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, who accomplished the feat twice in Playoff competition.

  • Lawrence has now thrown 137 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. His most recent interception prior to the game came on his final pass attempt at Boston College on Nov. 10. The streak now breaks his previous career-long streak of consecutive passes without an interception is 136, and he is now in striking distance of Cullen Harper’s single-season school record of 143 in 2007.

  • Lawrence earned his 10th victory as a starter, which broke Kyle Parker’s school record by a freshman (first-year or redshirt) and made Lawrence the first Clemson freshman quarterback to win double-digit games as a starter.

  • Wide receiver Justyn Ross recorded career highs in receptions (six), receiving yards (148) and receiving touchdowns (two). His 148 yards were the third-most by a Clemson player in a bowl game in program history and the most by a freshman.

  • Ross’ 24.7-yard receiving average set a Clemson bowl record, surpassing the mark of 24.5, set by Brian Wofford against Mississippi State in the 1999 Peach Bowl.

  • Ross’ two touchdown receptions tied a Clemson bowl record, set multiple times including most recently by Hunter Renfrow in the College Football Playoff National Championship to conclude the 2016 season.

  • Ross gained 137 yards in the first half, breaking the first-half receiving yardage record held previously by Kansas State’s Quincy Morgan (128 in the first half of the 2001 Cotton Bowl Classic).

  • Notre Dame entered the game having allowed only two plays from scrimmage of 40 or more yards this season. Ross had two receptions of 40 yards or more against Notre Dame in the first half alone, with both resulting in touchdowns.

  • Lawrence connected with Ross on a 52-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

  • The reception was Ross’ fifth of 50 yards or more this season, with all five resulting in touchdowns.

  • Ross added his career-high second touchdown reception on a 42-yard catch and run in the second quarter.

  • On a 19-yard touchdown reception with two seconds remaining in the first half, wide receiver Tee Higgins tied Aaron Kelly (11 in 2007) and Mike Williams (11 in 2016) for the fourth-most receiving touchdowns in a single season in school history.

  • The touchdown pass to Higgins was Clemson’s 19th completion of the game and its 300th of the season. Seven of Clemson’s eight all-time 300-completion seasons have come under Head Coach Dabo Swinney.

  • Running back Travis Etienne rushed for 109 yards with a touchdown on 14 carries.

  • On a 62-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, Etienne broke Wayne Gallman’s school record for rushing yards in a season (1,527 in 2015). Etienne now has 1,572 rushing yards this season.

  • On the touchdown, Etienne pushed his season point total to 138, breaking teammate Greg Huegel’s school record for points in a season (137 in 2015).

  • The touchdown was Etienne’s 22nd rushing touchdown of the season, adding to his existing school record for rushing touchdowns in a single season. Pittsburgh’s James Conner holds the ACC record of 26, set in 2014.

  • On the touchdown, Etienne moved past Gallman (34 from 2014-16) for sole possession of third-most career rushing touchdowns in school history.

  • Etienne’s 100-yard rushing game was his eighth of the season, pulling him one shy of Gallman’s team record of nine from 2015. He has now rushed for 100 yards in three consecutive games for the first time since a four-game stretch against Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Wake Forest.

  • With Etienne’s performance and the victory, Clemson improved to 40-2 when having a 100-yard rusher since 2011.

  • With Lawrence, Etienne and Ross, Clemson produced a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver in a bowl game for only the second time in school history (Tajh Boyd passing and rushing and Sammy Watkins receiving vs. Ohio State in Orange Bowl following 2013 season). 

  • Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow added to his school records for career starts by a wide receiver (46) and consecutive games with a reception (42).

  • Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and tight end Cannon Smith played in their 58th career games, breaking fullback Chad Diehl’s school record of 57 career games played from 2007-11.

  • Wilkins split a sack in the third quarter to push his single-season career high this season to 5.5 sacks.

  • Defensive end Clelin Ferrell made his 43rd career start to tie Levon Kirkland’s school record for starts by a defensive end/outside linebacker (43 from 1988-91).

  • Ferrell record the fifth forced fumble of his career, his third of the season, in the first quarter. Ferrell also recorded his first career fumble recovery on the play. It marked only Notre Dame’s fourth lost fumble of the year.

  • Ferrell added a sack in the second quarter, the 27th sack of his career to tie William Perry (27.0 from 1981-84) for fourth-most in Clemson history. 

  • On back-to-back plays in the third quarter, defensive end Austin Bryant recorded his seventh and eighth sacks of the season, respectively, pushing his career total to 20.0.

  • On the play following Bryant’s consecutive sacks, safety Nolan Turner recorded his first career interception.

  • Linebacker Shaq Smith recorded his first career sack in the fourth quarter.

  • Kicker Greg Huegel made his 47th career start at kicker to tie Aaron Hunt for second-most career starts by a Clemson kicker all-time (52, Chandler Catanzaro).

  • Clemson opened the scoring on a 40-yard field goal by Huegel in the first quarter. It marked Clemson’s 10th time scoring first this season. Clemson is now 38-0 when scoring first since 2015.

  • On the field goal, Huegel became the first player in Clemson history to kick a field goal in four bowl games. He had three against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl and two against Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship following the 2015 season, and one against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl following the 2016 season. 

  • Huegel’s third PAT of the game was his 71st of the season, matching his own single-season team record of 71 from 2016. Huegel has accounted for three of the top five seasons in PATs in school history.

  • Defensive tackle Albert Huggins recorded his first start of the season (the third of his career), and on the game’s second play from scrimmage, he stood up Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book to allow safety Tanner Muse to jar the ball loose from Book to record the first forced fumble of his career.

  • Captains for the contest were running back Adam Choice, defensive end Clelin Ferrell, tackle Mitch Hyatt, linebacker Kendall Joseph, wide receiver Hunter Renfrow and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins.

 

WITH THE WIN…

 

  • Clemson won its 54th game in the last four years, adding to existing school and ACC records for wins held by Clemson’s 2018 senior class. As of the conclusion of the game, the 54 wins were tied with the current Alabama seniors for the most by a senior class in FBS history, though Alabama could push its total to 55 with a win in the Orange Bowl this evening.

  • With a 54-4 record since 2015, Clemson’s 2018 senior class pushed its winning percentage to .931, which far outpaces the school record set by the 2017 seniors (.877, 50-7). Regardless of the outcome of the National Championship, the 2018 senior class will become the first in school history to field a winning percentage of .900 or better.

  • The 2018 Tigers won their 14th game this season to tie the single-season school record of 14 wins, set by the 2015 and 2016 Tigers. In the National Championship, the Tigers will attempt to become the first major college football team in the modern era to go 15-0. No major college football team has won 15 games since the 19th century, when Penn posted a 15-0 mark in 1897.

  • Clemson improved to 14-0 for only the second time in school history, joining the 2015 Tigers, who started 14-0 en route to a 14-1 finish.

  • Clemson won its 14th straight game, which moved past 13-game streaks from the 1939-40 and 1980-82 seasons for sole possession of the third-longest winning streak in school history.

  • The victory was Clemson’s 102nd of the decade. Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State are the only FBS schools to win 100 games this decade.

  • Clemson improved its all-time bowl record to 23-20 and its all-time postseason record, including conference championship games, to 28-21.

  • Clemson improved to 4-2 all-time in College Football Playoff games. Clemson’s four CFP wins are the second-most all-time.

  • Clemson has now won seven of its last nine bowl games since the 2012 season. One of the two losses came during the 2015 season in a National Championship that was preceded by an Orange Bowl win, so Clemson has won a bowl game in eight of the last nine years.

  • Head coach Dabo Swinney improved to 13-6 in postseason play, including both conference championships and bowl games.

  • The bowl victory was Swinney’s eighth all-time, extending his existing school record over Danny Ford (six). His eight bowl victories remain second in ACC history and pull within three of Bobby Bowden’s conference record (11). 

  • Including today’s victory against Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, who won two NCAA Division II championships at Grand Valley State, Swinney’s last seven bowl victories, dating back to 2012, have come against coaches with national championships to their credit at various levels (two each against Urban Meyer and Bob Stoops, one each against Kelly, Les Miles and Nick Saban).

  • Swinney earned his 115th career victory to push his career record to 115-30. This season, Swinney (.793) moved past Jimbo Fisher (.783 at Florida State) for the best career winning percentage by an ACC coach (min. three seasons).

  • Clemson improved to 2-0 all-time in the Cotton Bowl Classic.

  • Clemson improved to 3-1 all-time against Notre Dame. Clemson is one of only six FBS programs with a winning record against Notre Dame with a minimum of at least three all-time contests, a list that includes Florida State (6-3), Michigan (24-18-1), Nebraska (8- 7-1), Ohio State (4-2) and NC State (2-1).

  • Clemson has now won its last three contests against Notre Dame since dropping the all-time series opener to the Irish at Clemson in 1977. The teams are scheduled to face each other again in regular season play in 2020, 2022 and 2023.

  • Clemson won its 10th straight game in the month of December, a streak that dates back to the 2011 ACC Championship Game against Virginia Tech. Prior to the current streak, Clemson had never won more than three consecutive December games.

  • The victory was Clemson’s second in the state of Texas this season, including a 28-26 win against Texas A&M on Sept. 8. The 2018 campaign marks only the second time in school history that Clemson has won two games in Texas, joining the 1959 season in which Clemson won two games in Houston, including a road win against Rice and a Bluebonnet Bowl victory against TCU.

  • Clemson has now won 57 of its last 61 games overall, dating to 2014.

  • Clemson led at halftime, 23-3, and has now won 65 of its last 67 games when leading at halftime.

  • Clemson held a 26-17 advantage in first downs. Clemson now holds an 87-2 record when totaling more first downs than its opponent since 2011.

  • Clemson has now won 28 of its last 31 games away from home.

  • Clemson has now won 19 of its last 20 games against top-25 teams.

  • Clemson has now won 67 straight games when holding teams under 23 points (dates to 2010).

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