Clemson stuffed a run on a two-point conversion attempt with seven seconds left to save a 24-22 Tigers victory over sixth-ranked Notre Dame.
Clemson led early, 14-3 and seemingly had the game in control in the last five minutes. But Notre Dame wide receiver Tori Hunter hauled in a touchdown pass to close the gap to two with seconds left.
Clemson could move up in Sunday’s poll several spots following this nationally televised victory.
Clemson’s offensive and defensive lines dominated throughout the first half as the Tigers went into halftime with a 14-3 lead.
Then Notre Dame fumbled twice early in the second half, giving up short fields to the Tigers. In comparison, the Irish seldom took possession in good field position, and didn’t have the capacity to sustain long drives until star C.J. Prosise caught a pass down the right sideline for a 56-yard touchdown.
Clemson next plays Georgia Tech at home. The Rambling Wreck can be a challenge with their triple-option offense, but Georgia Tech has struggled of late, blowing a lead in Atlanta to North Carolina.
Three who mattered
DeShaun Watson: Clemson’s sophomore quarterback bounced back from some struggles against Louisville, picking apart the Irish secondary early for two quick scores.
B.J. Goodson: Clemson’s middle linebacker got his first career interception midway through the fourth quarter and a fumble recovery late.
Brent Venables: Clemson’s defensive coordinator dialed up a terrific game plan. You wonder how soon Venables will be a head coach.
▪ The predicted stormy weather sure didn’t discourage fans from showing up early to tailgate long before the 8 p.m. kickoff. By 4 p.m. you could drive Perimeter Road several miles to the stadium without stopping for traffic. Everyone was already parked.
▪ Despite having only three starters back from last season’s nationally ranked defense, the Tigers stuffed Notre Dame’s big offensive line most of the first half.
▪ Yes, Mike Williams (neck fracture) is missed, but the depth of Clemson’s wide receiver group has compensated well.
▪ Misleading stat of the game: Notre Dame possessed the ball five minutes longer than Clemson in the first half.
▪ This must have been some recruiting class for Clemson, because the Tigers have already played 14 true freshmen this season including defensive back Mark Fields, son of the former Carolina Panthers linebacker by the same name.
▪ This was just the third-ever football meeting between Clemson and Notre Dame and the previous two were in 1977 and 1979.
▪ Smart move in third quarter by Clemson to pooch punt out of field-goal formation. Notre Dame had demonstrated no ability to sustain long drives.