6th: 2018 Cotton Bowl: Clemson 30, Notre Dame 3
This was Trevor Lawrence’s first College Football Playoff game. He passed every test that had been thrown at him, but not everyone thought he was up to the challenge of Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish had found their quarterback as well in Ian Book. Looking back on their roster, there are some other names dusting it that play in the NFL today: Chase Claypool, Cole Kmet, Liam Eichenburg, Tommy Kraemer, Jerry Tillery, and Julian Okwara, among others.
At the end of the first quarter, the game was tied 3-3. In the second quarter, Lawrence found the end zone three times. The first two were to Justyn Ross, and the third was a remarkable play by Tee Higgins.
A final touchdown by Travis Etienne in the second half put the game away. The only thing that didn’t go Clemson’s way was a Greg Huegel extra point that was blocked, and it turned out to be inconsequential.
Despite the solid performance, most of the response nationally was to denigrate the Irish as overrated, rather than give Clemson credit for defeating a previously undefeated team by 27 points.
Not many people gave Clemson a chance against Alabama in the national championship game. More on that in a minute.