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:
|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.