December 30, 2018 / 1:10 AM / 5 months ago

Clemson routs Notre Dame, will face Alabama in title game

EditorsNote: removes bowl sponsor name

Trevor Lawrence completed 27 of 39 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns, and No. 2 Clemson rolled to a 30-3 win over No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday evening in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Cotton Bowl Classic in Arlington, Texas.

Clemson (14-0) advanced to the Jan. 7 national title game, where it will meet No. 1 Alabama (14-0), which defeated No. 4 Oklahoma 45-34 later Saturday night at the Orange Bowl. The Tigers reached the final for the third time in four years and will seek their second championship in three seasons.

Justyn Ross had six catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers. Tee Higgins and Travis Etienne also scored for Clemson, while Austin Bryant finished with two sacks to lead a dominant defensive effort.

Ian Book completed 17 of 34 passes for 160 yards and an interception for Notre Dame (12-1). The Fighting Irish were outgained 538-248 and averaged 3.6 yards per play, compared with an average of 6.9 yards per play by Clemson.

Etienne put the game out of reach with a 62-yard rushing score with 2:04 remaining in the third quarter. The standout sophomore finished with 14 carries for 109 yards and tallied his 23rd touchdown, 22 of which have come on the ground.

Clemson built a 23-3 halftime lead.

The score was tied at 3 late in the first quarter when Notre Dame cornerback Julian Love left the field because of a head injury. Clemson quickly took advantage by picking on backup Donte Vaughn, who replaced Love.

The strategy paid off as Lawrence connected with Ross for a 52-yard touchdown along the right sideline with 12:50 left in the second quarter. Ross fought off Vaughn and stiff-armed safety Jalen Elliott on his way to the end zone.

Lawrence found Ross again for a 42-yard touchdown on a deep seam route with 1:44 to go in the second quarter to make it 16-3.

A terrific reception by Higgins increased the Tigers’ lead to 20 points with two seconds remaining before halftime. Vaughn deflected a pass in the end zone, but Higgins juggled the ball with his right hand and brought it close to his body while he fell to the ground. A video review confirmed that he had possession before falling out of bounds.

—Field Level Media

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