In a year of uncertainty, Clemson provided college football fans with a reminder of why they are the kings of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Thanks to 24 unanswered first-half points and stellar defensive performance, the third-ranked Tigers rolled to a 34-10 victory over No. 2 Notre Dame.
“With championship football, you’ve got to be at your best and our guys were at their best,” Swinney said. “Our staff did an amazing job. I don’t know that most people can understand how hard it to do what this team has done. The leadership, the focus, the will to win, the guts, and the commitment, it’s just special and I’m just humbled to be a part of it.”
Notre Dame (10-1) got on the board first. The Irish marched 46 yards before Jonathan Doerer booted a 51-yard field goal for the Irish making it a 3-0 game with 8:16 left in the opening quarter.
Clemson’s offense hit a snag early. Despite making some progress, Trevor Lawrence threw his first interception in an ACC Championship game. The Irish would follow that by getting into the red zone but were unable to come away with points.
Clemson would take the lead late in the first quarter with Trevor Lawrence finding Amari Rodgers on a 67-yard pass to cap a three-play drive. The pass gave the Tigers a 7-3 lead.
Clemson dominated the second quarter scoring 17 more points to extend their lead, including a 44-yard touchdown run by Travis Etienne late in the period.
Etienne had 10 carries for 124 yards and a touchdown in the contest.
In all, Clemson racked up 228 yards in the quarter alone. Meanwhile, Notre Dame couldn’t get anything going. The Irish posted just 49 yards with 13 plays in the quarter with -7 yards on the ground.
The second half saw much of the same for the Irish. With the Clemson defense standing tall, the Irish didn’t have the answers to make it a game. In the third quarter, the Tigers held Brian Kelly’s squad was held to just 21 yards.
Lawrence added a little more insurance for the Tigers in the third quarter. His 34-yard touchdown run with 3:43 left in the third made it 31-3.
Lawrence was 25-of-36 passing for 322 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 90 yards and a score on 14 carries on his way to being named the ACC Championship Game Most Valuable Player.
BT Potter tacked on an additional field goal in the fourth quarter.
Notre Dame would add a touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 21-yard touchdown by Chris Tyree.
Notre Dame was held to 263 total yards with 44 coming on the ground. Their struggles were compounded by six Clemson sacks, which ties an ACC Championship Game record.
Clemson (10-1) now awaits the decision of the College Football Playoff committee.