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Clemson falls to Notre Dame as Tigers’ offense flounders

David Ferrara, Editor-in-Chief

Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (5) hurdles a Notre Dame defender during the Tigers’ matchup with Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, on Nov. 5, 2022. 

No. 4 Clemson suffered its first defeat of the 2022 season on Saturday night, losing 35-14 to Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. 

While the Tigers’ defense had its share of struggles, the offense was the propellant of the downfall, as Clemson had multiple quarterback changes, two costly turnovers and just 281 total yards of offense.

The downward spiral for the Tigers started on special teams, however, as Notre Dame blocked Aidan Swanson’s punt and returned for a touchdown at the 9:08 mark in the first quarter.

Two Notre Dame rushing scores later, and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and the Tigers found themselves down 14-0 at halftime.

After the break, Clemson punted on the first two drives, and in need of a spark, the Tigers replaced Uiagalelei for freshman Cade Klubnik with 1:20 left in the third quarter. Clemson received anything but, however, as Klubnik threw an interception on his first pass attempt. The turnover gave the Irish excellent field position, which they took advantage of with their third touchdown of the game. 
That was the first of the costly turnovers.

With the Tigers down 21 points early in the fourth, Notre Dame quickly put Clemson’s comeback chances to rest, intercepting Uiagalelei for a 96-yard touchdown return.

In the loss, Uiagalelei completed 27 of 39 passes for 191 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Klubnik, on the other hand, didn’t return to the field after his interception.

With the game all but won, Notre Dame added insult to injury and tacked on an additional seven points in the fourth.

The only two scores for the Tigers on the night were a 1-yard touchdown run by Will Shipley and Uiagalelei’s 4-yard touchdown throw to Joseph Ngata late in the fourth. Shipley led all Clemson rushers with 63 rushing yards on 12 attempts. 

After the game, Swinney took the blame for loss. 

“All the criticism should be directed at me. Never saw this coming tonight,” Swinney said. “We’ve got to move forward and make sure we respond next week.”

Though the spotlight was on Clemson’s offensive shortcomings, the defense also had its fair share of issues.

The Tigers gave up a mere 85 passing yards on the night, but the unit couldn’t do much to contain the Irish on the ground. Led by running back Logan Diggs, Notre Dame racked up 263 rushing yards and averaged 5.6 yards per carry. 

The lack of run defense was shocking to Swinney. 

“I don’t even want to comment on it right now. They just physically kicked our butts,” he said. 

With the ACC Atlantic Division title clinched, Clemson will look to bounce back at home next week when the Tigers take on Louisville.  

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