#4 Notre Dame upsets #1 Clemson in Double Overtime


Tribune Photo/ERIC HANSEN

Notre Dame fans rush the field after beating Clemson in 2OT

Ethan Fullenkamp, Reporter

On Saturday night the 6-0 Fighting Irish took on 7-0 Clemson Tigers in the game of the year in South Bend, Indiana. The Irish squeaked past the #1 Tigers in a 47-40 double overtime victory to give Brian Kelly his first win over a #1 team.

Story Lines

Going into the game Clemson was without their starting quarterback and heisman front-runner Trevor Lawernce due to COVID-19 protocols. However, the true freshman backup quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei was ready to step into the starting position as he threw for 342 yards in the previous week against Boston College. Clemson’s defensive was also thin with injuries to the quarterback of the defense, James Skalski (linebacker), Mike Jones Jr. (linebacker), Tyler Davis (defensive lineman) and Xavier Thomas (defensive lineman) for the first half due to targeting. The question was if Notre Dame would be able to take advantage of the Tigers thin defense? 

First Half

Notre Dame won the coin toss, and elected to receive the opening kick to prove that they can play with the big guys. They did just that on the second play of the game Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams found a hole, juked a safety and outran Clemson defenders 65 yards for a touchdown to put Notre Dame up 7-0. Clemson quickly turned the ball over and downs, giving the ball back to Notre Dame who went down to kick a field goal to increase their lead to 10-0. Clemson received the kick and quickly scored with a 53 yard touchdown pass to Cornell Powell to make the score 10-7. The teams battled to trade field goals on the next to possessions to bring the game to a 13-10 Notre Dame lead. 

On Clemson’s first play of their ensuing drive D.J. Uiagalelei pitched the ball to star running back Travis Eitenne who bobbled the ball straight into defensive end Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah who ran the fumble all the way back into the endzone for a Fighting Irish touchdown. On their next drive, Clemson fumbled yet again deep in their own territory, and all seemed lost for the Tigers. However, their defense stepped up and held Notre Dame to a field goal. Clemson responded with a field goal of their own to make the score 23-13 Notre Dame at the end of the half. 

Second Half

Clemson was ready to come back and set to receive the second half kick-off, as they finished their first drive of the second half with a field goal. Clemson quickly got the ball back after stopping the Notre Dame offense to set up a 13 play, 60 yard drive that ended with a 10 yard touchdown pass to tight end Davis Allen to tie the game at 23. Notre Dame got the message, and was ready to respond as Ian Book threw a 45 yard pass to Javon McKinley. Notre Dame was looking to score after Ian Book scrambled with his eyes on the goal line before a Clemson defender punched the ball out from behind him to give Clemson the ball back. Both teams then traded field goals to make the score 26-26 at the start of the fourth quarter. 

Clemson received a punt with 9:14 left in regulation looking to take its first lead of the game. Clemson marched 74 yards down the field in 12 plays that ended in a Travis Etienne touchdown run to give Clemson a 33-26 lead. The drive ate up almost 6 minutes, as Notre Dame only had 3 minutes left to score. It seemed as though Notre Dame needed to score on their next drive in order to at least send the game into overtime. Notre Dame began driving before they faced a long 3rd and 7. Ian Book passed to wide receiver Ben Skowronek who was hit just before the ball reached him, as a pass interference flag was thrown. However, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney went berserk over the call and the referees picked up the flag to make it 4th and 7. Again Ian Book passed to Ben Skowronek who dropped the high pass and gave Clemson the ball with 2 minutes remaining.

It looked as though the game was over, Notre Dame barely falls to a top 10 team again and, Notre Dame will never get that win that will push them to elite. However the Notre Dame defense was not ready to give up, as they stopped Clemson from getting the first down. Not only did they force Clemson to punt, they only used one timeout, and Clemson made crucial mistakes of running out of bounds to stop the clock, and having a holding call to stop the clock. Notre Dame received the punt with a time out and 1:48 to go which was plenty of time to score. 

Notre Dame started their drive with a few short passes and runs to set up a 53 yard pass to Avery Davis, and suddenly there was hope, as Irish fans got on their feet once again. Ian Book then went back to Davis for a 4 yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 33 with 22 seconds left to send the game into overtime. 

First OT

Clemson was unfazed by the epic Notre Dame drive to send it into overtime as D.J. Uiagalelei passed to Cornell Powell for 24 yards, who was tackled at the 1 yard line. Uiagalelei himself pushed the ball into the end zone on the next play to give Clemson a 40-33 lead, as Notre Dame’s offense would receive the ball next. It only took Notre Dame 4 plays to find the end zone in the first overtime with Kyren Williams finishing with a 3 yard rushing touchdown to send the game into a second overtime. 

Second OT

Notre Dame started its second overtime with a costly holding penalty that backed them up to 2nd and 20. The Clemson defense then returned the favor with a late hit, personal foul to give Notre Dame 15 yards and a free first down. Notre Dame slowly pushed the ball with a few short passes before Kyren Williams found the endzone once again for his third rushing touchdown of the game. Clemson got the ball again at the 25 yard line looking to get another quick score like they did in the first overtime. They did just the opposite, as Uiagalelei was sacked on back to back plays by Notre Dame defensive end Adetokunbo Ogundeji to force 3rd and 24. Clemson was unable to get the first down, and the game ended 47-40, Notre Dame win, as students stormed the field. 


Notre Dame’s rush defense was the highlight of the game as they held Clemson to only 34 rushing yards. The star on the defense was defensive tackle Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah who finished the game with 9 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a touchdown off the fumble recovery. They also held the all time ACC rushing leader, Travis Etienne to 28 yards on 18 carries (a career low). The Notre Dame running back Tyren Williams had a day he’ll always remember with 140 yards rushing the 3 touchdowns. The true freshman D.J. Uiagalelei shined as he ended 29-44 with 439 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book finished 22-39 with an impressive 310 yards passing. 

What’s Next?

The Clemson Tigers will finish the regular season with 3 games that they are heavily favored in against Florida State, Pitt and Virginia Tech. The Tigers are looking to get healthy, and win all their games to make it to the ACC championship, then the College Football Playoff. On the other hand, Notre Dame has 4 games remaining against a strong Boston College team next week, followed by a strong North Carolina team, then finishing the regular season with 2 easier games against Syracuse and Wake Forest. Notre Dame is looking to win out and make it to their first and only ACC championship game, potentially a rematch against the Clemson Tigers. The rematch would be interesting as Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence will most likely be back, and their defense should be more healthy. The winner of the ACC championship will likely make it to the College Football playoff.