4. The Really Big Thing Was …
Notre Dame beating Clemson just opened the door.
The Clemson defense was banged up, but that had nothing to do with Tiger RB Travis Etienne getting stuffed for 28 yards on the ground for a rushing attack that finished with 34 yards on 33 carries.
Travis Lawrence was out, but DJ Uiagalelei threw for 439 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, and he ran for a score.
Notre Dame earned this win, it proved it belonged in the four-best team conversation, and now the expectations have been pushed to national championship levels.
The Fighting Irish proved they really could beat anyone this year.
But Clemson really was banged up, and as good as Uiagalelei is, it was his second start and Lawrence had been through all the college football wars before. That all might have been enough to have pulled out a game that went into double overtime.
The assumption is that this was the first of two meetings, with both teams likely to play each other again in the ACC Championship. However …
Miami doesn’t play Notre Dame. It lost to Clemson, and if it wins out, and the Tigers lose another game, it’s Catholics vs. Canes for the ACC title.
Clemson still has to go to Florida State and play Pitt, and even though Liberty pulled off the win in Blacksburg this last weekend, going to Virginia Tech is going to be a fight.
It’s not like it’s official in a College Football Playoff world based on judges, but with one more loss, Clemson is almost certainly out.
With this win, the Irish can afford a loss along the way and still be fine in the playoff hunt, but they’d have to win the rematch against Clemson, or finish as the ACC Champion and have just that one defeat. However, with three of the final four games on the road, and Boston College, North Carolina and Wake Forest all dangerous, getting through cleanly isn’t going to be easy.
Lose once, and then the ACC Championship is a must win. Win the last four games and get into the title game 11-0, and a close loss to Clemson should still be enough to get in.