The Notre Dame Fighting Irish finally won the big one.
After years of struggling against the “big boys” with the likes of Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia, Brian Kelly’s team has the signature win they’ve been so desperately after. Saturday’s double overtime thriller against the #1 Clemson Tigers at last went the Irish’s way. Ian Book and the ND core eclipsed the Tigers 47-40 and have put themselves in the College Football Playoff picture.
It’s the first victory for ND against a number one opponent at home since Florida State in 1993.
In their 2018 Cotton Bowl matchup, Book did not throw a single touchdown pass. He didn’t have a touchdown on Saturday either until 22 seconds left in the 4th quarter to force overtime. But at the end of the day, historians will look at if you were able to get the job done. Book did just that.
To help break down the program shifting win, Notre Dame beat writer for The Athletic Pete Sampson called into The Fan Morning Show and talked with Jeff Rickard, Kevin Bowen, and Big Joe about the current vibe in South Bend.
“It’s definitely historic because it’s the biggest win in Brian Kelly’s 11 years here,” Sampson said. “If you’re a Notre Dame student you haven’t seen something like this in your entire lifetime. To do something historic at a place like Notre Dame is saying something.”
It goes without saying that Clemson was impacted with the absence of Heisman caliber quarterback Trevor Lawrence. But the kid filling in for him put together statistically the greatest passing performance ever by an opposing quarterback against the Irish.
True freshman D.J. Uiagalelei’s 439 passing yards is the most any Notre Dame defense has ever surrendered. And no one has come close to that number since USC’s Carson Palmer in 2002 when he had 425 pass yards. But still, the Irish prevailed. Although the pass game went the way of Clemson, the Irish stopped star running back Travis Etienne from having a big day. The senior had a touchdown but just 28 yards.
Kyren Williams took the opportunity and led all rushers in the game to secure the win for Notre Dame. His three touchdowns and 140 yards were the difference in the goliath game.
“To get one big win gives you a little belief and some credibility nationally that you can get over the hump and have the skills to do it,” Sampson added. “If Michigan under Jim Harbaugh had beaten Ohio State just once but lost all the other games we would look at Michigan a lot differently. That was sort of Notre Dame’s albatross with the big games they don’t win.”
The now 7-0 Irish are ranked #2 in the nation behind only Alabama. Clemson is now #4 at 7-1. Now that Kelly has the big win, Notre Dame is in a familiar spot for the rest of the year. They cannot afford to lose a single game, or else that can demolish their CFP hopes.
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