It has been a long time since that 42-14 loss for Notre Dame against Alabama in the 2012 National Championship Game. We are quickly coming up on the eight-year anniversary of that embarrassing loss. But the Fighting Irish finally got the big win they needed under Brian Kelly.
After two overtimes, Notre Dame is walking away with a 47-40 victory over Clemson, the No. 1 team in the country. It was a four-quarter-plus battle, but Kelly and company finally got the job done — even if Trevor Lawrence was on the sidelines for the Tigers.
The battle was won in the trenches.
Offensively, the Fighting Irish racked up 209 yards on the ground with three touchdowns. Of that production, running back Kyren Williams had 140 of the yards and all three scores. Quarterback Ian Book chipped in 68 yards of his own.
A major reason for that success was the Notre Dame offensive line. That unit continued to play solid, physical football against a vulnerable Clemson defensive front due to injuries.
The Tigers, on the other hand, weren’t able to get anything done on the ground. Star running back Travis Etienne only mustered up 28 yards on 18 carries (1.6 yards per rush). He did add a score on the ground, but it wasn’t enough.
True freshman quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei also threw for 439 yards and two scores against the Irish, but yet again, it wasn’t enough. Notre Dame would not be denied.
Is it finally time to say Notre Dame is back? After a grueling decade of constant disappointment in big games, can we finally consider the Fighting Irish a real contender? A team that can do more than just make it to the College Football Playoff?
That is tough to say, but we can’t ignore this massive win. People will point the absence of Lawrence as the reason for Clemson’s downfall, but could he have overcome a defense that 519 total yards and 47 points to Notre Dame? It’s possible, but we don’t know at this time.
The good news? We’ll probably get to find out in the ACC Championship Game in just over a month.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.