Clemson vs Notre Dame: 2015 Hurricane Game
By Makenna Biehl
Not much has been able to stop the Clemson Tigers Football Team in recent years, not even a state of emergency being declared on gameday. On October 3, 2015, the Tigers faced the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Death Valley. This was the third meeting between the two programs, and the number 12 ranked Tigers were hoping to bring down the number 6 ranked Fighting Irish. The game was being played on what some refer to as the best weekend of the 2015 season because there were five top-25 matchups to come that Saturday. The most attention was brought to the Clemson-Notre Dame matchup, meaning ESPN’s College GameDay was headed to host their show on the Clemson campus. However, there was one concern on everyone’s minds, Hurricane Joaquin.
As the East Coast was preparing to get soaked by Hurricane Joaquin, the storm was being monitored throughout the week leading up to the game by officials, ready to determine if the game would be safe enough to play on Saturday. The Notre Dame Football Team prepared to spend some extra time in South Carolina because they expected the game to be moved to Sunday or Monday. But, the day before the game, Clemson released a statement saying that it would be safe to play the game. Facilities, highway patrol, campus police, and the drainage system were all prepared for what was to come with the excessive rainfall that weekend.
South Carolina Governor and Clemson graduate, Nikki Haley, reminded the community that there was a state of emergency put in place and that you should only attend the game if you have to. However, Haley’s statement couldn’t stop Clemson fans, the stadium was packed with soaking wet fans ready to see one of the best games of the 2015 college football season. Fans attended tailgates beforehand and then filled the stadium with noise and energy. “It was just such a collegiate atmosphere. And it was loud, and it was one of the louder environments that we had played in. And to watch those kids battle, it was — you know, it was one of those games you remember because it was college football at its best,” said Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. Kelly admired the tailgating and tradition that the Clemson Family had to offer.
There wasn’t an empty seat in Death Valley as the Tigers dominated the Fighting Irish, going into the fourth quarter with a 15 point lead. Notre Dame scored with seven seconds to play, putting the score at 24-22, meaning their only chance to win would be to go for the two-point conversion. The Tiger defense led by Brent Venables was ready to keep Notre Dame from taking the lead. Ben Boulware, Kevin Dodd, and Carlos Watkins prevented Deshone Kizer from making it to the endzone on a quarterback run, meaning the Tigers were able to pull out the 24-22 victory.
The stadium erupted with cheers from Clemson fans as head coach Dabo Swinney fell to his knees with pride. “We played in a hurricane, literally a hurricane. It was just horrible conditions to try to (play), but we both tried to do what we had to do to win the game, and it just came down to a couple of plays,” said Swinney. The win in the fall of 2015 made the Tigers have a 2-1 win lead against the Fighting Irish, which later improved to 3-1 at the 2018 Cotton Bowl.