Clemson was soundly defeated by Notre Dame on Saturday night. Nov 5, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney leaves the field after a loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Given Notre Dame’s tendency to struggle against highly-ranked opponents, few would have been surprised if Saturday’s game against the undefeated and No. 4 ranked Clemson Tigers resulted in a blowout. That’s exactly what happened. Only, it wasn’t the kind of blowout that anyone was expected.

The Fighting Irish dominated the Tigers. Notre Dame struck first, thanks to a huge play from its special teams unit.

The Fighting Irish took a 14-0 lead over a clearly frustrated Clemson team at halftime. Late in the third quarter, Dabo Swinney decided to replace the struggling DJ Uiagalelei in favor of Cade Klubnik. That did not go well.

Notre Dame took advantage of the short field and scored a touchdown to go up 21-0. At that point, Swinney put Uiagalelei back in the game.

That also did not go well.

Both teams would add points in garbage time as Notre Dame won 35-14. But any mystery that lingered in the game was squashed after after the pick-six.

While Clemson was undefeated entering Saturday night, its record was spotty. The Tigers had struggled in victories against lesser opponents, with their only convincing wins coming against Georgia Tech, Furman and Boston College.

So, Clemson was easily the shakiest of the four teams in the initial College Football Playoff rankings. And both as Saturday’s game against South Bend was unfolding and when it was over, the Tigers were widely ripped by college football fans.

Clemson has made the playoffs with a loss before. For those hopeful that the Tigers will do so again this year, the most obvious comparison is 2020. That year, Clemson was defeated by South Bend in Notre Dame and still reached the playoff.

But there are some critical points to be made.

One, Notre Dame was ranked No. 4 in that game and finished the regular season 10-0. Two, Clemson was without the services of Trevor Lawrence in that game. Three, despite that, the Fighting Irish defeated the Tigers 47-40 in overtime. Four, given the irregularities of the 2020 season, Notre Dame was playing in the ACC. That gave Clemson a shot at a rematch with the Fighting Irish in the ACC Championship Game. With Lawrence, the Tigers won the rematch decisively, 34-10.

Notre Dame is back to competing as an independent in 2022. So Clemson will get no shot at a rematch. And even if that wasn’t the case, the Fighting Irish were 5-3 and unranked entering Saturday night’s game. Despite that, they dismantled the Tigers.

We won’t say that there’s no chance for Clemson. But it’s not looking good. In all likelihood, the Tigers are going to have a hard time overcoming this.

About Michael Dixon

About Michael:
-- Writer/editor for and
-- Bay Area born and raised, currently living in the Indianapolis area.
-- Twitter:
@mfdixon1985 (personal).
@michaeldixonsports (work).
-- Email:
Send tips, corrections, comments and (respectful) disagreements to that email. Do the same with pizza recommendations, taco recommendations and Seinfeld quotes.