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NOTRE DAME UPSET AT CLEMSON 31-23: Brett Cagle recaps the dismal performance Notre Dame put on at Clemson, Hartman has tough day.
BY: BRETT CAGLE
Notre Dame fell to 7-3 on the season after Saturday’s deflating road loss to Clemson. Tigers Head Coach Dabo Swinney was enthusiastic after the victory stating “If Clemson’s a stock u better buy all you freaking can buy right now. Let’s go!” Going into this matchup Irish fans knew any Clemson team could be dangerous, especially at home, but Notre Dame seemed to come out flat, settling for field goals before Quarterback Sam Hartman threw a costly second-quarter pick six. Notre Dame trailed 24-9 at Halftime which proved to be too much to overcome.
In the second half, Running back Audric Estime scored from two yards out to cut the game to eight points. After each team swapped touchdowns, including a 26-yard Sam Harman rushing Touchdown, Clemson gave Notre Dame the ball back with a costly fumble in Irish territory. Again Notre Dame was unable to capitalize and would fall on the road 31-23 to their ACC opponent. This loss to a statistically “down” Clemson team brought on many questions surrounding the program.
In both of Notre Dame’s Road losses, Quarterback Sam Hartman had trouble turning the ball over. With Three interceptions against Louisville and two last weekend, Hartman has made game-altering mistakes in two of the last four contests. Offensive consistency is a huge question mark right now, as Notre Dame looked tremendous at times over the season. Entering the game as large betting favorites, the Irish dropped their second straight game on the road.
With their playoff hopes crushed and Quarterback Sam Hartman in his final year, Irish fans don’t have much to look forward to this season but the school's biggest question remains… will Head Coach Marcus Freeman be back in 2024? After failing to meet expectations that were set on the team early in the year, Freeman’s job may be in jeopardy if things don’t turn around this season.
Defensively, Notre Dame allowed many big plays including a 41-yard touchdown to Phil Mafah in the first quarter. Mafah rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries. Clemson struggled through the air with Quarterback Cade Klubnik only throwing for 109 yards on the day.
This was certainly a disappointing performance for Notre Dame who will look to bounce back with a win against Wake Forest on November 18th.
After defeating USC by 28 points in week 8, the Fighting Irish responded with another impressive victory last weekend. The defense and special teams of Notre Dame looked tremendous in this blowout win at home. A Chris Tyree 82-yard punt return touchdown got Notre Dame on the board in the first quarter. In the second quarter junior running back Audric Estime scored his first of three touchdowns on the day. Following Estime’s 15-yard rushing touchdown, kicker Spencer Shrader made a 23-yard field goal to make the score 17-0 before the half.
The second half was completely controlled by Notre Dame, who outscored Pitt 41-7 in the final two quarters. The Pittsburgh offense was held to only 53 yards rushing on the day and had trouble moving the ball downfield through the contest. The Fighting Irish defense forced five turnovers Saturday. ND Quarterback Sam Hartman also uncharacteristically turned the ball over twice against Pitt and has now thrown five interceptions in his last three games.
Offensively Notre Dame compiled 535 total yards in this matchup. 114 of those yards were contributed by star running back Audric Estime on the ground. Estime is nearing the 1,000-yard mark on the season for rushing and has an impressive 6.2 yards per carry. With 12 touchdowns on the season, Estime has been a key part of the team’s success on offense.
Following the win Irish Head Coach Marcus Freeman talked with the media about next week's opponent Clemson “I view Clemson as one of the premier programs in college football. And what Coach Swinney has done with that program over the course of his time there has been second to no other program in college football. It’s extremely impressive
This crushing victory for the Irish will help build confidence heading into a road matchup with ACC opponent Clemson (4-4) this weekend. Last year ND defeated the Tigers 35-14, but Head Coach Dabo Swinney and Clemson will always be a formidable opponent.