Notre Dame upset the Tigers 35-14 with first-year coach Marcus Freeman’s Banner win, inflicting a crushing blow on fourth-placed Clemson. Fighting His Irish used his stifling defense and elite specials to frustrate Clemson, limiting the visitors’ total attacking range to just 281 yards, leaving the game essentially out of reach until the fourth quarter. He held off the Tigers without a touchdown.
The Fighting Irish offense struggled, but Logan Diggs and Audric Estim both had over 100 yards on the ground. But first, on a punt blocked by Jordan Botelho, Prince Corry came back for a touchdown in the first quarter to give the home side an early advantage.
The defense took over from there as Clemson quarterback DJ Wiagalerai struggled to jump-start the Tigers offensively. Ultimately, he was replaced late in the 3rd quarter by his 5th starter true his freshman Cade his Crabbnik, but to no avail. Klubnik’s second pass was intercepted, leading to a touchdown for Estime, making him 21-0 with 14:37 left.
Marcus Freeman signature win
Confused by home losses to Marshall and Stanford early in the season, Freeman needed a signature win. This certainly qualifies. Clemson has consistently been one of the top his programs in the sport over the past decade, and the Tigers have emerged that week as he is one of the sport’s undefeated six teams.
His recruiting efforts have been excellent. According to 247Sports, Fighting his Irish now owns his 3rd place class for the 2023 cycle. But in his first season as head coach, Freeman needed accolades on the field to combine with his work on the Recruiting Trail. Riches may not be over yet. Depending on where the Trojan Horse is on the national landscape at that point, Notre Dame could have yet another opportunity to play a spoiler role on the national stage.
Meaning of Clemson CFP
The loss doesn’t completely remove Clemson from CFP contention, but it does make the Tigers’ playoff path more difficult. Clemson’s win over a well-respected North Carolina team in the ACC Championship Game could have made CFP Field as a one-loss team, according to CBS Sports expert Jerry Palm. You might need to win that game convincingly against No. 17 Tar Heels, who won the 2 and improved to 8-1.
The Tigers should be big favorites in all three contests, but Clemson still has three must-win regular season games. First in Louisville next week, followed by Miami and South Carolina to round out the season. All three games were home games.
Clemson quarterback situation
Clemson’s quarterback situation remains precarious, evidenced by the fact that coach Dabo Swinney once again sought a spark for Krabnik in the second half. However, unlike his 27-21 victory over Syracuse two weeks earlier, the move backfired. Swinney immediately pulled Krabnik and brought Uiagalelei back into the game after Kravnik’s first pass was intercepted.
It will be interesting to see where Swinney goes from here. Wiagalerei has clearly improved from last season, but the Tigers have never frightened opponents offensively, and Krabnik looks like a future quarterback in the program. In hopes of stability, Swinney’s insistence on sticking to Uiagalelei’s numbers will be put to the test again in the remaining weeks of the season.