Ian Book, No. 4 Notre Dame Upset D.J. Uiagalelei, No. 1 Clemson in 2OT Thriller

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorNovember 8, 2020

Notre Dame  running back Kyren Williams (23) celebrates after his first-quarter touchdown against Clemson during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in South Bend, Ind. (Matt Cashore/Pool Photo via AP)
Matt Cashore/Associated Press

Notre Dame sophomore running back Kyren Williams showed out in South Bend on Saturday, rushing for 140 yards and three touchdowns as the No. 4 Fighting Irish upset No. 1 Clemson 47-40 in double overtime.

The Fighting Irish trailed 33-26 with 1:41 remaining in regulation, but senior quarterback Ian Book led his team on an eight-play, 91-yard drive capped by a four-yard touchdown catch by Avery Davis.

Both teams scored touchdowns on their first-overtime possessions before Notre Dame began the second extra session with a seven-play drive that Williams finished with a three-yard touchdown run.

The Fighting Irish defense stepped up big on Clemson's ensuing possession. Defenders Adetokunbo Ogundeji and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah combined for a first-down sack of Tigers quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei. Ogundeji then registered a solo sack to push Clemson back to 3rd-and-24. An incomplete pass on third down and a 13-yard completion (and ensuing lost fumble) on fourth ended the game.

Book completed 22 of 39 passes for 310 yards and a touchdown in addition to 68 rushing yards.

True freshman Uiagalelei completed 29 of 44 passes for 439 yards and two touchdowns for a Tigers team that trailed 23-13 at halftime before outscoring Notre Dame 20-3 the rest of the way in regulation. 

Uiagalelei was starting in place of star quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who has missed two straight games after testing positive for COVID-19.

Before Saturday, Clemson had won 39 straight non-College Football Playoff games dating back to Oct. 13, 2017, when they lost to Syracuse.


Notable Performances

Clemson QB D.J. Uiagalelei: 29-of-44, 439 passing yards, 2 TD; 1 rushing TD

Clemson WR Cornell Powell: 6 catches, 161 receiving yards, 1 TD

Clemson WR Amari Rodgers: 8 catches, 134 receiving yards

Notre Dame QB Ian Book: 22-of-39, 310 passing yards, 1 TD

Notre Dame RB Kyren Williams: 23 carries, 140 rushing yards, 3 TD

Notre Dame WR Javon McKinley: 5 catches, 102 receiving yards


Kyren Williams Steals Show for Fighting Irish

Much-deserved credit goes to Book, a fantastic offensive line and a clutch Fighting Irish defense that made big plays when they counted most, but Notre Dame's star on Saturday was sophomore Kyren Williams, who proved to be the offense's engine en route to the upset win.

Williams kicked off the night with a 65-yard touchdown to set the early tone and put Notre Dame on the board first:

Notre Dame Football @NDFootball

What a way to start the game. 🙌 📺 NBC #GoIrish x #BeatTigers https://t.co/sx307UQEub

Notre Dame's scoring consisted of field goals and a defensive touchdown until late in the fourth quarter, but that's when Williams came through again with a 15-yard run on 3rd-and-1 from Notre Dame's 28-yard line to eventually set up the game-tying score before regulation ended.

Once overtime started, Williams finished off both overtime drives with three-yard runs, including the one that proved to be the game-winner:

Notre Dame on NBC @NDonNBC

Kyren Williams punches it in 💪 #GoIrish https://t.co/wTDaDDKVlP

The Fighting Irish 😷 @FightingIrish

DOUBLE OT? COUNT ON KYREN. No. 4 @NDFootball 47 - No. 1 Clemson 40 📺 NBC #GoIrish #BeatTigers https://t.co/aTvsM4nl2Y

Williams also does a ton of the dirty work that doesn't appear in the box score, and ESPN's Mike Golic pointed that out:

Mike Golic @espngolic

I can’t even begin to explain how good RB Kyren Williams for ND is picking up blitzes and rusher

The sophomore spoke about his pass-blocking postgame, per WNDU Sports Director Mark Skol Jr.:

Mark Skol, Jr. @markskoljr_WNDU

Kyren Williams on his pass blocking tonight. Says the RBs have an acronym they live by B.A.M. - “by any means.” “I don’t shy away from contact”

Williams enjoyed a great all-around game but his rushing efforts put him in rarefied air against recent Clemson teams, per ESPN Stats & Info:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Kyren Williams is the first player with 3 rush TDs in a game against Clemson since Dalvin Cook had 4 on Oct. 29, 2016. This is Williams' 4th game with multiple rush TD this season, tied with C.J. Prosise in 2015 for the most in a season by a ND player over the last 20 years. https://t.co/AjQdeJg61m

Chances are Notre Dame will see Clemson again in the ACC Championship Game: If both teams win out, that will in fact be the case.

Although Clemson would likely have Lawrence back at that point and stand as the favorite, the Fighting Irish would have a shot at pulling off a second victory thanks to players like Williams, who should continue to be a major factor in Notre Dame's drive for its first national title since 1988.


Uiagalelei Once Again Provides Glimpse Into Bright Future

It's easy to be disappointed if you're a Clemson fan after watching the Tigers overcome a 23-10 deficit only to allow a late game-tying touchdown before two more scores in overtime en route to a seven-point loss.

However, in the broad scheme of things, this defeat isn't all that painful because Uiagalelei was once again phenomenal and should help the Tigers stay at (or very close to) the top of college football until the end of his Tiger tenure.

Jordan Reid of The Draft Network provided good insight on that front:

Jordan Reid @JReidNFL

It’s unfair how Clemson is going to transition from Trevor Lawrence right to DJ Uiagalelei. Young kid is going to be really, really good. He’s gaining precious reps right now.

ESPN's David Pollack provided his take as well:

David Pollack @davidpollack47

D.J. UIAGALELEI has an absolute hand canon for an arm. Super quick release! Throws it great on run! Has great poise! Deshaun to Trevor to DJ. Clemson biggest strength has been finding THAT dude at QB.

Uiagalelei went 30-of-41 for 342 yards, two passing touchdowns and a rushing score in a 34-28 win over Boston College the week before in place of Lawrence. The Tigers aren't winning that game without his A-plus effort, which helped the team overcome a 28-10 deficit.

On Saturday, Uiagalelei was once again the star, forming an excellent rapport with Cornell Powell and Amari Rodgers a combined 14 times for 295 yards and a touchdown.

Uiagalelei launched a beautiful 53-yard toss to Powell for a touchdown:

Clemson Football @ClemsonFB

TOUCHDOWN TIGERS! Beautiful, over-the-top 53-yd TD pass from DJ to Cornell! GO TIGERS! #ALLIN 🐅🐾 https://t.co/QtmoSpuYMl

He also later made some big plays before finding Davis Allen for 10 yards and another score to help Clemson tie Notre Dame at 23:

Clemson Football @ClemsonFB

Big plays by DJ Uiagalelei to cap a 13-play, 60-yd drive! The true freshman is already 22-for-32 with 306 yards and 2 TD. https://t.co/4oPfU17yyj

On a night where Notre Dame shut the normally dominant Travis Etienne (18 rushes, 28 yards) down, Uiagalelei put the offense on his back and was able to lead his team to 40 points on the road against the No. 4 team in the nation.

ESPN Stats & Info posted this remarkable stat afterward:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

D.J. Uiagalelei's 426 passing yards is the highest passing total ever against Notre Dame (previous-most was 425 - Carson Palmer, USC, 2002).

Uiagalelei would have been the game's top storyline had Clemson held on, but that didn't happen as the Tigers fell just short. Still, there's little reason to bet against Uiagalelei being anything but a tremendous success when he presumably takes the starting quarterback reins next year should Lawrence enter the NFL draft.


What's Next?

Notre Dame will hit the road for a matchup with Boston College on Saturday, while Clemson will enjoy a bye week before visiting Florida State on Sat., Nov. 21.