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  • Phil Houk

ND v. Clemson: A Short But Significant History

Updated: Dec 16, 2020


Notre Dame, Clemson.

Two powerhouse programs that have been playing the game for a very long time.

But there have only been four matchups between the two in their long histories, and each game has had national title implications.

In 1977 Joe Montana and company traveled to Clemson and escaped with a 21-17 victory. The Irish went on to win the national championship that year, and 36 players that participated in that game went on to NFL careers.

In 1979 Clemson set a Notre Dame stadium record by running the ball 74 times and came from behind to defeat the Irish 16-10. The Clemson program, it is said, turned the corner that day under second year head coach Danny Ford and 2 years later the Tigers won their first ever national title.

In 2015 Clemson was led by Deshaun Watson, ND by Deshone Kiser and both teams were undefeated. The game was played as the outer rings of Hurricane Joaquin hit South Carolina. ND had fallen behind 21-3 going into the 4th quarter before a furious Fighting Irish comeback fell just short when Kiser was stopped short of the goal line on a 2-point conversion attempt with 7 seconds left. Clemson prevailed 24-22 and went on to a 14-1 season, their only loss came to Alabama by 5 in the national championship game.

The last time the two teams met was at "Jerry’s World" (AT&T Stadium), in Dallas in the College Football Playoff semifinal in 2018. After one quarter the teams seemed evenly matched but an injury to Irish cornerback Julian Love in the second quarter was the only opening sensational freshman Trevor Lawrence needed as he tossed 3 TD passes before half and Clemson cruised to a 30-3 win. A week later the Tigers pounded Alabama 44-16 to win the national championship.

This week national championship implications once more are in play as chapter 5 will be written in the short but significant history of the Notre Dame Clemson rivalry.

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