NCAA Talk

Notre Dame loses 'big' game again, gets dominated by Clemson in CFP semi-final

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USA TODAY

Notre Dame loses 'big' game again, gets dominated by Clemson in CFP semi-final

No. 3 Notre Dame entered Saturday's College Football Playoff semi-final matchup with a recent reputation of falling in big postseason games. They did nothing to change that reputation against No. 2 Clemson in the Cotton Bowl.

Clemson absolutely dominated Notre Dame, defeating the Fighting Irish 30-3 to advance to the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Clemson will play either No. 1 Alabama or No. 4 Oklahoma on Jan. 7 at Levi's Stadium.

Notre Dame and Clemson were actually tied at 3-3 after the first quarter, though the latter took over from that point on. Clemson scored 27 unanswered points the rest of the game, including 20 alone in the second quarter before pulling their starters early in the fourth quarter.

Clemson picked up more first downs (26-17), total yards (538-248), passing yards (327-160), rushing yards (211-88) and forced more turnovers (2-1) than Notre Dame. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (27-39, 327 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions) also out-played Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book (17-34, 160 yards, no touchdowns and one interception). 

For Notre Dame, the loss is more of the same in terms of losing big in the "big" postseason games. The Fighting Irish ended the BCS era 0-4 in BCS bowl games, losing the 2001 and 2006 Fiesta Bowl, the 2007 Sugar Bowl and the 2013 BCS National Championship Game.

Saturday's loss to Clemson dropped Notre Dame's record in New Year's Six games to 0-2, as the Fighting Irish also lost the 2016 Fiesta Bowl. A look at the scores of those games, respectively:

Game Score
2001 Fiesta Bowl Oregon State 41, Notre Dame 9
2006 Fiesta Bowl Ohio State 34, Notre Dame 20
2007 Sugar Bowl LSU 41, Notre Dame 14
2013 BCS National Championship Game Alabama 42, Notre Dame 14
2016 Fiesta Bowl Ohio State 44, Notre Dame 28
2018 Cotton Bowl Clemson 30, Notre Dame 3

Clemson improved to 14-0 with Saturday's victory, so the strength of Notre Dame's opposition should not be understated. Clemson also is coming off a blowout loss in the 2017 CFP; No. 4 Alabama beat No. 1 Clemson 24-6 in the Sugar Bowl en route to winning the 2018 CFP National Championship.

Regardless, the fact that Notre Dame is now winless in their last six "big" postseason games is still a disappointment, especially considering that they went 12-0 in the 2018 regular season.

Notre Dame among the four teams chosen for College Football Playoff

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USA Today

Notre Dame among the four teams chosen for College Football Playoff

Notre Dame's going to get their chance, after all. 

The final College Football Playoff rankings were released this morning, and there weren't too many surprises. 

Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma are your Top-4, in that order. Georgia just missed out at #5, and Ohio State came in behind them at #6. 

For the semifinals, Alabama and Okalahoma will square off in the Orange Bowl, while Clemson and ND will square off in the Cotton Bowl. 

And now, we wait a month. 

Northwestern comes up short in bid for Big Ten title, falls to Ohio State 45-24

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USA TODAY

Northwestern comes up short in bid for Big Ten title, falls to Ohio State 45-24

Northwestern undoubtedly has a good football team this season. Unfortunately for them, they ran into an even better team on Saturday.

The Wildcats hung close against No. 6 Ohio State in Saturday's Big Ten Championship Game before ultimately failling to the Buckeyes 45-24. However, Chicago's Big Ten Team deserves credit for not going down quietly.

Trailing Ohio State 24-7 at halftime, Northwestern came out firing on all cylinders in the third quarter. Quarterback Clayton Thorson led the Wildcats to two quick touchdown drives in less than seven minutes, cutting Ohio State's lead to 24-21. 

Northwestern never took the lead away from Ohio State, though. After the Buckeyes' lead was cut to three points, Dwayne Haskins went on to throw three more touchdown passes, single-handedly burying Northwestern.

Haskins, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, finished the night 34-of-41 with 499 passing yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Haskins earned the game's MVP award for his efforts. Thorson finished the night 26-of-43 with 265 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. 

Ohio State likely is headed to the Rose Bowl; as good as their performance was, it is unlikely they will leap No. 5 Oklahoma (winners of Saturday's Big 12 Championship Game).

No. 1 Alabama beat No. 4 Georgia in Saturday's SEC Championship Game, so Ohio State likely will rise to No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings.

Northwestern finishes the 2018 season 8-5 (8-1 in conference play). Despite the loss, they certainly will be awarded with a top bowl game as winners of the Big Ten West Division.