As Saturday night turned into Sunday morning, Clemson fans were wet and concerned about the dangerous flooding situation in their home state. They were also ecstatic.
That’s because No. 12 Clemson held on and beat No. 6 Notre Dame 24-22. Though it was not an ACC win, with Florida State struggling to get by Wake Forest earlier in the day, the Tigers established itself as the team to beat in the conference.
Here are five thoughts on the now 4-0 Tigers.
1. The Electric Atmosphere
The noise generated by the 82,415 fans at Death Valley did not directly cause Notre Dame to fumble or drop passes. But it is unlikely that Clemson would have jumped out to a 14-0 lead in some other environment. Notre Dame’s string of false start and delay of game penalties were most likely influenced by the deafening sound. At the start of the game, the Irish looked overwhelmed and that was due in large part to the Clemson fans. In the rain, the Tiger supporters get an A+.
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2. The Defensive Line
Many experts consider Notre Dame’s offensive line to be one of the best in the country. They didn’t look like it Saturday night. Clemson’s defensive front was the reason. Shaq Lawson, especially early on, was a beast. The junior had seven tackles with 3.5 of those resulting in lost yardage. The play of Lawson, Kevin Dodd, Carlos Watkins, and the others gave linebacker Ben Boulware plenty of room to roam around. Notre Dame running back C.J. Prosise was held to 100 yards under his season average because of the push of the Clemson defensive line.
3. The Offensive Line
The inexperienced offensive line was going against a very strong Notre Dame defensive front seven and the Irish unit made plays, especially late in the game. But Clemson's front line needed to just hold its own in this department and it did. Wayne Gallman finished with 98 yards rushing and the blockers did a great job helping Deshaun Watson gain 93 yards on quarterback runs. Notre Dame generated more and more pressure as the game wore on, but Watson was not sacked on his 22 pass attempts. Besides the guys from Tallahassee, Clemson will not see another front like ND’s and the performance should give the group a lot of confidence.
4. Mackensie Alexander on Will Fuller
It was the premier matchup, one that featured one of the nation’s best corners on one of the nation’s best receivers. The battle was won by Alexander. Fuller finished with just two catches for 37 yards with a 23-yard reception coming on a late bubble screen. Alexander made sure that the Irish star was not a factor downfield. Big-time players play best in big games. Alexander is a big-time player.
5. Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow
It was a great win, but Clemson cannot dwell on it for too long. Georgia Tech comes to town next week and though they are scuffling, the Yellow Jackets beat the Tigers to the tune of 28-6 last year. It could be a rough few days around Clemson considering the weather situation, making preparation even more challenging. The Tigers have to forge through. All of Clemson’s goals are within reach and now is not the time for a lack of focus.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.