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A Brief History of Clemson vs. Notre Dame Matchups

The Tigers lead the series with the Fighting Irish 4-2.
A Brief History of Clemson vs. Notre Dame Matchups

Saturday's showdown between Clemson and Notre Dame in South Bend marks the sixth meeting of the two programs. The Tigers hold a 4-2 lead in the series and here is a brief history of it.

Notre Dame 21, Clemson 17

Nov. 12, 1977 — Clemson, S.C.

The 15th-ranked Tigers jumped out to a 17-7 third-quarter lead on the fifth-ranked Irish. Then Notre Dame quarterback Joe Montana led two fourth-quarter drives that were punctuated by one-yard touchdown runs to take a 21-17 lead and the win. Notre Dame would go on to win the national championship, while Clemson finished 8-3-1. When newly drafted receiver Dwight Clark, who was on the 1977 Clemson squad, arrived in San Francisco 49ers training camp and saw Montana up close for the first time, he was amazed this skinny guy was the one who led that comeback.

Clemson 16, Notre Dame 10

Nov. 17, 1979 — South Bend, Ind.

The 6-3 Irish took a 10-0 halftime lead, but then things got nasty. Clemson forced four turnovers and shut out the Irish in the second half. Meanwhile, the offense scored on a 26-yard touchdown run by quarterback Billy Lott and three field goals by Obed Ariri. The loss knocked Notre Dame out of bowl contention and handed the Irish their worst season in 16 years. Clemson went 8-4 and made a bowl (Peach) for the third straight season.

Clemson 24, Notre Dame 22

Oct. 3, 2015 — Clemson, S.C.

Notre Dame was ranked sixth and Clemson was ranked 12th and both teams were 4-0. After the Tigers took a 21-3 lead going into the fourth quarter, it seemed pretty clear that the Irish would be going home with their first loss of the season. Then Notre Dame roared back with three fourth-quarter touchdowns, the last coming with seven seconds left in the game to close Clemson’s lead to 24-22. On the two-point try, Clemson defensive tackle Carlos Watkins stopped Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer to preserve the win. The Irish finished the season 10-3, while Clemson went 14-1, losing 45-41 to Alabama in the College Football National Championship.

Clemson 30, Notre Dame 3 (Cotton Bowl/College Football Playoff Semifinal)

Dec. 29, 2018 — Arlington, Texas (AT&T Stadium)

Clemson entered the Cotton Bowl/College Football Playoff Semifinal as an 11.5-point favorite over Notre Dame. If you bet on the Tigers, you came away richer. Trevor Lawrence threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns and Travis Etienne rushed for 109 yards and another score as Clemson never trailed and led 23-3 at halftime. The Tigers then throttled Alabama 44-16 to win the national title.

Clemson 47, Notre Dame 40

Nov. 7, 2020 – South Bend, Ind.

The Irish played in the ACC for the season disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and both teams were in the top five when they met. Clemson was also missing Trevor Lawrence who had tested positive for COVID. Notre Dame led for most of the game, but the Tigers pulled ahead on a three-yard Travis Etienne Jr. touchdown run that put them up 33-26 with 3:33 to play. The Irish tied the game when Ian Book hit Avery Davis with a four-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds remaining. The teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime. Then Notre Dame scored on a three-yard Kyren Williams run and Clemson fumbled on its possession giving the Irish the win.

Clemson 34, Notre Dame 10 (ACC Championship Game)

Dec. 19, 2020 – Charlotte, N.C.

The teams met again in the ACC Championship Game. This time, Trevor Lawrence was back and threw for 322 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another. Meanwhile, the Clemson defense held Notre Dame to 263 yards en route to winning its sixth straight conference title. Both teams made the playoff and were eliminated in the semifinals.

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.