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Clemson Football

The Notes: No. 3 Clemson 34, No. 2 Notre Dame 10

December 22, 2020

According to ESPN, the game represented only the fourth time in the AP Poll era (since 1936) that two teams have faced one another twice in a single season with both teams ranked in the AP Top 5 for both meetings, joining 1959 LSU/Ole Miss, 1996 Florida State/Florida and 2011 LSU/Alabama. With Clemson’s win on Saturday, teams that lost the first meeting are now 4-0 in rematches between Top 5 contests that same season. In every instance, the team that lost the first game won the rematch by at least 21 points.

Clemson recorded 541 total yards, including 322 passing and 219 rushing. It was Clemson’s second game this season exceeding both 200 passing yards and 200 rushing yards, joining Clemson’s victory against Miami (Fla.). Clemson is now 53-0 when both passing and rushing for 200+ yards under Dabo Swinney.

Clemson’s 500-yard performance was its fifth of the season and its first since Nov. 28 vs. Pitt. Clemson is now responsible for three of the four 500-yard games in ACC Championship Game history.

Clemson has now opened a season with 400 yards of offense in each of the first 11 games of a season for the second time in school history (2018).

Clemson has now rushed for 200 yards in consecutive games for the first time since last year's regular season finale and ACC Championship Game against South Carolina and Virginia, respectively.

Clemson joined 2013 Florida State as the only ACC teams ever to score 34 or more points in each of the first 11 games of a season.

Clemson recorded multiple rushing touchdowns in a 27th consecutive game. The last time Clemson was held to a single rushing touchdown was in a 27-point win in the 2018 Cotton Bowl against Notre Dame.

After surrendering 519 yards to Notre Dame in November (310 passing and 209 rushing), Clemson limited Notre Dame to 263 total yards on Saturday. Clemson held Notre Dame to 44 rushing yards after surrendering 65 yards on the first offensive play alone in the teams’ meeting in November.

Clemson held Notre Dame to 1.5 yards per carry. Clemson has held opponents to 2.0 or fewer yards per carry 25 times since 2014, second-most in the country. Clemson is 24-1 in those contests.

Heisman contender Trevor Lawrence was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after he completed 25-of-36 passes for 322 yards with two passing touchdowns. He also rushed for a season-high 90 yards, the second-most of his career and his most since a 107-yard rushing day against Ohio State in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl. 

Lawrence’s 412 yards of total offense (passing and rushing) were second-most in ACC Championship Game history, trailing only Deshaun Watson’s 420-yard total offense output against North Carolina in 2015.

Lawrence improved to 34-1 as a starter, adding to his standing as the winningest starting quarterback in Clemson history and further improving the best winning percentage (.971) by an FBS starting quarterback since Division I split in 1978.

Lawrence became the first starting quarterback to win three ACC Championship Games.

Clemson produced a 300-yard passer (Lawrence) and a 100-yard rusher (Travis Etienne) in a single game for the second time this season, joining the season opener at Wake Forest. The performance represented the 16th time in history that Clemson has produced both a 300-yard passer and a 100-yard rusher in a single game. All 16 instances at Clemson have come since the turn of the century. Thirteen have come under Dabo Swinney, including five by the Lawrence/Etienne duo.

Lawrence posted his 12th career 300-yard passing game. He, Tajh Boyd (18) and Deshaun Watson (13) are the only players in school history to record double-digit career 300-yard passing games. 

Lawrence (9,698) passed Charlie Whitehurst (9,665) for third-most career passing yards in Clemson history.

Lawrence added to his school record for career touchdown passes of 50 yards or more on a 67-yard pass to Amari Rodgers in the first quarter. It was Lawrence’s 19th touchdown pass of 50 yards or more with Clemson. 

Lawrence now has a 50-yard touchdown pass in consecutive games for the first time since the ACC Championship Game and the Fiesta Bowl in 2019.

Lawrence also scored on a 34-yard touchdown rush in the third quarter. It was his seventh rushing touchdown of the season and his 17th of his career. The 17 career rushing touchdown pass Kelly Bryant for sole possession of fifth-most by a Clemson quarterback in the modern era.

Etienne rushed 10 times for 124 yards with one rushing touchdown and caught three passes for 12 yards.  

The 100-yard rushing game was a school-record-extending 20th of Etienne’s career, tying him with NC State’s Joe McIntosh and Boston College’s AJ Dillon for seventh-most in ACC history.

Etienne snapped a six-game streak without a 100-yard rushing game.

Etienne’s 12.4-yard rushing average was his 13th career game averaging at least 10 yards per carry (minimum five carries), adding to his FBS lead in that category since 2000.

On a fourth and one, Etienne scored on a 44-yard touchdown run with 21 seconds remaining in the first half.

With the score, Etienne added to his FBS record for most career games scoring a touchdown, scoring in a 45th game of his 54-game career.

The touchdown was Etienne’s 13th rushing touchdown of the season, allowing him to join Wisconsin's Ron Dayne as the only players in FBS history to record at least 13 rushing touchdowns in four different seasons. 

Etienne (4,943) moved past Kyle Parker (4,902) to move into the Top 10 in Clemson history in yards of total offense, a category that includes both yards rushing and yards passing, despite having only 23 career passing yards.

In four ACC Championship Game appearances, Etienne has recorded 42 carries for 418 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. He has scored in all four of his ACC Championship Games.

Wide receiver Amari Rodgers led all receivers in receptions (eight) and receiving yards (121).

Rodgers recorded his fifth career 100-yard receiving game, his third of the season. All five of his 100-yard receiving games have come away from home, including four road games and Saturday’s neutral-site contest.

Rodgers scored Clemson’s first points of the game on a 67-yard touchdown reception from Lawrence on the Tigers’ second drive. The reception was the second-longest in ACC Championship Game history.

On the touchdown reception, Rodgers (2,090) eclipsed 2,000 receiving yards for his career, becoming the 15th player in Clemson history to hit that milestone. He now sits 13th in career receiving yards in Clemson history.

It was also Rodgers’ 15th career touchdown catch, making him the 16th player in school history to record 15 career touchdown receptions.

Rodgers (173) also moved past Rod Gardner (166) and Derrick Hamilton (167) for seventh on Clemson's all-time leaderboard for career receptions.

The touchdown was Rodgers’ sixth career touchdown of 50 yards or more (including five receiving and one via punt return), tying him for eighth-most by a Clemson player since 1950.

Wide receiver E.J. Williams recorded his second touchdown of the season on a 33-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.

Williams’ four receptions for 80 yards were both career highs.

Linebacker James Skalski became the first player ever to appear in five ACC Championship Games.

Skalski recorded his first full sack of the season on a third down on Notre Dame’s first drive.

Clemson recorded six sacks. Clemson has now recorded multiple sacks in 33 of its last 34 games, including each of its last 17. Clemson’s 17th straight game with two or more sacks ties a 17-game streak from 1998-99 for the Tigers' second-longest streak since 1980.

Clemson’s six sacks tied for the most in ACC Championship Game history, matching Florida State’s six in 2005. Clemson’s previous best was four, set against both Virginia Tech in 2016 and Miami (Fla.) in 2017. 

Clemson (44) reached 40 sacks on the season, giving Clemson at least 40 sacks in seven straight seasons. Clemson’s seven-season streak is the longest in the country.

Defensive end K.J. Henry and cornerback Derion Kendrick recorded sacks on back-to-back plays in the second quarter. The sack improved Henry’s season sack total to 3.5, while the takedown was the first of Kendrick’s career.

True freshmen Myles Murphy and Malcolm Greene split a third quarter sack. 

Greene’s half sack was the first of his career, as he became the 20th different Clemson player to record at least half a sack this season, the most in the FBS.

Greene later added a full sack in the third quarter, forcing Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book out of bounds on a scramble for a two-yard loss.

The half-sack pushed Murphy’s season total to 4.0, tying William Perry (4.0 in 1981), Ricky Sapp (4.0 in 2006) and Shaq Lawson (4.0 in 2013) for third-most sacks by a Clemson true freshman all-time. 

True freshman linebacker Trenton Simpson later matched that mark, recording his fourth sack of the season in the fourth quarter.

Safety Lannden Zanders recorded his first career forced fumble in the third quarter.

Clemson won the game despite losing the turnover margin, 1-0. It was the first time in the six-game all-time series between Clemson and Notre Dame that the team that lost the turnover margin won the game.

After surrendering an opening field goal, Clemson scored 24 consecutive points to hold a 24-3 lead at halftime. In Clemson’s six consecutive ACC Championship Games since 2015, the Tigers have recorded a cumulative 146-50 halftime lead, an average lead of 16 points per game.

Clemson faced its seventh different opponent in its eight ACC Championship Game appearances all-time, a list that includes Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech (twice), North Carolina, Miami (Fla.), Pitt, Virginia and Notre Dame. The only non-Atlantic Division foe Clemson has not faced in an ACC title game is Duke.

Clemson played a third AP Top 10 opponent in a single season for the seventh time in school history (four each in 2013 and 2015; three each in 1966, 1977, 1981 and 2016). It is only the third time in school history Clemson has played three Top 10 opponents prior to bowl season (three in 1966 and 2013).

Clemson played a third matchup of two AP Top 10 teams in a single season for the fourth time in school history (three Top-10 matchups each in 2013, 2015 and 2016). It joined the 2013 season as the only seasons in school history that Clemson has played in three games between Top 10 teams prior to bowl season.

With its second meeting with Notre Dame this season, Clemson played a team twice in a single season for the third time in school history. Clemson dropped two meetings with Georgia Tech in 2009 and swept two meetings with Virginia Tech in 2011. With the win, Clemson split a two-game single-season series with an opponent for the first time.

Captains for the contest were running back Travis Etienne, quarterback Trevor Lawrence, linebacker James Skalski and safety Nolan Turner.

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The Notes: No. 3 Clemson 34, No. 2 Notre Dame 10

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