Notre Dame’s Nov. 7 match with Clemson was the first top-five college football matchup in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The night game included a combined total of 87 points and 991 yards, plus two overtimes and the Fighting Irish victory ended the Tigers' 36-game regular-season win streak. For the first time since 1993, Notre Dame took down the #1 team in the land. And for only the 2nd time since 2000, and the first under BK, the Irish defeated a top 5 team.Irish head coach Brian Kelly on the win.
We won the football game
“We won the football game,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said after the game, “and I'm certainly excited about that, but more so, when you watch your players exhibit resolve and exhibit grit and refuse to lose a football game against the No. 1 team in the country, that by the way hadn't lost in 36 regular-season games, that's the special part about coaching these guys at Notre Dame.”
Without Trevor Lawrence in the lineup due to COVID, the Irish emerged victorious. Would Lawrence have made the difference? Perhaps. That's not to say he wouldn't have, but it's not as though DJ Uiagalelei was a hindrance for the Tigers on Saturday. He finished the night completing 29 of 44 passes for 439 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for a third score in OT. His 439 passing yards are the most any quarterback has ever thrown against Notre Dame, surpassing the 425 yards Carson Palmer amassed in 2002.
This was by far the most impressive win in the Kelly era, and a much needed monkey off the back to the pundits that argue Kelly-lead teams are unable to win big games. While the Irish didn't play a perfect game, they took the lead on the second play of the night and didn't trail until there late in the 4th quarter. This was Ian Book's signature win.Book finished with 310 yards passing, 64 yards rushing and one touchdown.Book fumbled in the 3rd quarter when it looked like he might score, but he later redeemed himself when he led the Irish on a 91-yard game tying drive after getting the ball back with 1:48 to play in the 4th.
On the other side of the ball, Notre Dame had a gameplan of taking Travis Etienne out of the equation and forcing Uiagalelei to beat them consistently. To Uiagalelei's credit, he did a fantastic job, but without production from Etienne, Clemson became one dimensional.This was a great college football game, and I hope we see an encore in the ACC Championship Game next month.
Next in the way of the Irish are the Boston College Eagles.
For BC, this game represents something more than just playing Notre Dame. The “Red Bandana Game” was inspired byWelles Crowther. As the Eagles wear their custom uniforms this week against No. 2 Notre Dame, in a 3:30 p.m. clash at Alumni Stadium, they’ll do so with Crowther in mind. Crowther, a former men’s lacrosse player at Boston College, spearheaded a rescue effort inside the World Trade Center on 9/11. He found and directed victims to the only open stairwell and carried a woman down to the 61st floor to firefighters. Crowther returned to the 78th floor to rescue more people, helped them down, then repeated the same process again. Crowther didn’t make it out alive, but his legacy lives on forever – particularly at Boston College.
While he’s now considered a hero, his involvement wasn’t known at first. Crowther’s final hour remained a mystery until a 2002 article helped identify that the man on the 78th floor Sky Lobby of the South Tower was wearing a red bandana. Crowther, who was known for having a signature red bandana, was identified, and now the Eagles honor him every year for his selflessness and heroism.
“Learning the story about Welles, and what he did, is very powerful,” quarterback Phil Jurkovec said Wednesday. “It’s a good example for everybody, the bravery he showed.”
Combine the “Red Bandana Game” with BC’s dislike for Notre Dame and you get a challenging road game coming off the Clemson win. I have myconcern about a natural let down for the Irish after beating the No. 1 team. If it took Clemson to bring out the best of all these guys, concern for this week? Yes.
This game opened with the Fighting Irish as 13-point favorites – and despite that big Irish victory over Clemson, the line has only moved a half-point in their direction. The opening total of 50.5 has held steady so far.
If people weren’t familiar with Kyren Williams before last weekend, they certainly are now. Williams was the star of the show for Notre Dame against the No. 1 team in the nation, erupting for 140 yards and three touchdowns on the ground – two of them coming in the pivotal overtime. Williams comes into the new week ranked eighth in the nation in rushing yards (740).
The Eagles came close to their own upset win over the heavily favored Tigers – but followed it up with a narrow 16-13 win over a struggling Syracuse team, leaving some to wonder how competitive they’ll be against the unbeaten Irish. Bettors should look past the score, however, with BC enjoying a 399-240 yard advantage while holding the football for nearly 39 minutes.
The key to the Eagles’ success in this one will be a ground game led by standout running back David Bailey, who rebounded from a rough showing vs the Tigers to rack up 125 yards on 25 carries against the Orange. Bailey will also be looking for a measure of revenge after he was limited to just 26 rushing yards on 10 attempts in last year’s 40-7 loss to Notre Dame.
Should be a good game. Buckle up! Go Irish!