Notre Dame submitted its resume to the College Football Playoff committee unblemished after rallying from a season-high 10-point deficit on the road to edge USC and finish the regular season 12-0.
This marks the third time since 1998 Notre Dame has finished the regular season 12-0. The Fighting Irish, an NCAA Independent university, is looking to be part of the College Football Playoff for the first time.
USC raced to a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter before Notre Dame reeled off 24 unanswered points, capped by quarterback Ian Book’s 51-yard catch-and-run screen pass to running back Tony Jones Jr with 3:09 to play to make it a two-score game. It was Jones’ first career touchdown.
Book threw for a career-high 352 yards to rally the Irish. The Notre Dame defense stood tall in the second half, surrendering only a late fourth-quarter touchdown and limiting the Trojans to 154 total yards.
Baylor: One year after the Bears went 1-11 under new head coach Matt Ruhle, Baylor became bowl eligible by rallying to upend Texas Tech in Arlington at AT&T Stadium. Baylor outscored Texas Tech 21-7 in the second half to erase a three-point halftime deficit. Quarterback Charlie Brewer threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns and added a 1-yard rushing touchdown on the first possession of the second half to put the Bears ahead for good.
NC State: The Wolfpack used a school-record tying five touchdowns from senior running back Reggie Gallaspy Jr. to post a come-from-behind overtime victory over rival North Carolina. It was the third time in a row NC State beat the Tar Heels. Gallaspy, who scored the tying touchdown in the fourth quarter and punched it over from 1-yard out in overtime to win it, also had a career-high 129 yards on the ground.
Penn State: On senior day at Beaver Stadium it was the Nittany Lions’ young defense that stood out in a 35-point victory over the Terrapins. Penn State’s defense limited Maryland to a field goal and less than 100 yards rushing. The Nittany Lions also recorded 15 tackles behind the line of scrimmage – the most by Penn State in a Big Ten game since 2007. Sophomore defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos had a career-high 3.5 tackles for a loss giving him 20 on the season, becoming the 12th PSU player to reach 20 TFL’s but the first since 2008 (Aaron Maybin). Gross-Matos has recorded at least 1 TFL in 8 straight games.
Northwestern: The Wildcats completed a perfect regular season against Big Ten West foes by edging Illinois on Senior Day at Ryan Field. Northwestern will play Ohio State Saturday in the Big Ten Championship game. The win over the Illini gave the ‘Cats their 11th-straight victory versus West Division foes and Northwestern earned its 15th win in its last 16 Big Ten games, matching the best 16-game conference stretch in program history.
Syracuse: Quarterback Eric Dungey accounted for nearly 400 yards of total offense and was responsible for a career-high six touchdowns in the road victory at Boston College. The win gave the Orange nine regular-season victories, program’s most since the 2001 season. This was the eighth time Syracuse has scored 40 or more points this season. Those six touchdowns, three rushing and three passing, give Dungey 32 for the season, surpassing the school-record of 30 set by Donovan McNabb in 1998.
Clemson: The Tigers, set to play Pitt in the ACC Championship game, posted the highest total yards ever against South Carolina with 744 to finish the regular season 12-0. Clemson also went for more than 300 yards rushing and passing for the first time ever against the Gamecocks. The Tigers also set a record with three drives of 95 or more yards, the first time that’s ever happened in program history.