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Notre Dame title drought extends with another big bowl loss | Don’t Miss This

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Notre Dame missed out on a big early game-turning play by the very nose of the football. The Fighting Irish defense missed having All-America cornerback Julian Love on the field for much of the Cotton Bowl.

When the third-ranked Irish needed just about everything to go perfect, their national championship drought instead stretched to three decades after another big postseason loss.

No. 2 Clemson took control when freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw three touchdowns in the second quarter, two of them to receivers covered by Love’s backup , Donte Vaughn, and the Tigers went on to a 30-3 victory Saturday in the national semifinal game.

Notre Dame (12-1), which won its last national title in 1988, has lost eight consecutive times when playing in bowls that make up the New Year’s Six games — or the former BCS national championship. All but one of those has been by double digits, including a four-touchdown loss to Alabama in the title game nearly six years ago.

The Fighting Irish were in their eighth Cotton Bowl — they have played in no other game more often. That was also where they got their last major bowl victory, with wins over Texas A&M to cap the 1992 and 1993 seasons.

Notre Dame safety Alohi Gilman (11), cornerback Donte Vaughn (8) and linebacker Te'von Coney, right, combine to stop Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) after a short run for a first down in the first half of the NCAA Cotton Bowl semi-final playoff football game, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Notre Dame had allowed only five plays of 40 yards or more during its 12-0 regular season. Clemson had three such plays for touchdowns.

Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross (8) escapes a tackle attempt by Notre Dame safety Alohi Gilman, right, as Ross reaches the end zone for a touchdown in the first half of the NCAA Cotton Bowl semi-final playoff football game, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

After Notre Dame tied it at 3 on Justin Yoon’s 28-yard field goal with 4 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter, the Fighting Irish looked to have recovered the ball inside the 10 after an apparent fumble on the ensuing kickoff return.

Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross (8) leans forward and reaches the end zone for a touchdown after getting past Notre Dame safety Jalen Elliott (21) in the first half of the NCAA Cotton Bowl semi-final playoff football game, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

Cole Kmet stripped the ball out near the sideline when tackling returner Derion Kendrick, who frantically swatted at the ball when trying to get it. A lengthy replay review determined that the nose of the ball barely touched out of bounds, just beyond Kendrick’s reach, before ricocheting back toward the field where Irish receiver Chase Claypool made the recovery.

Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross (8) fights off a tackle attempt by Notre Dame safety Jalen Elliott (21) and gets into the end zone for a touchdown in the first half of the NCAA Cotton Bowl semi-final playoff football game, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

With Love on the sideline — and it wasn’t immediately clear why the All-American wasn’t in the game at that time — Lawrence threw a 52-yard touchdown to fellow freshman Justyn Ross, who shed Vaughn near the 20 and got into the end zone after getting by another defender.

Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross (8) celebrates his touchdown catch in front of Notre Dame safety Jalen Elliott (21) in the first half of the NCAA Cotton Bowl semi-final playoff football game, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

Lawrence threw two TD passes in the final 1:44 of the first half, including a 19-yarder to Tee Higgins, who made an impressive one-handed grab in the back of the end zone with two seconds left after the a deflection by Vaughn with his back to the ball.

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book (12) scrambles out of the pocket for a gain in the first half of the NCAA Cotton Bowl semi-final playoff football game against Clemson on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

Irish safety Alohi Gilman set a College Football Playoff semifinal record with his 18 tackles, two more than teammate Te’von Coney had in the game.

Clemson safety Isaiah Simmons (11) attempts to stop Notre Dame running back Dexter Williams (2) from gaining more yardage in the first half of the NCAA Cotton Bowl semi-final playoff football game, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Ian Book, who took over as the Irish starting quarterback in the fourth week of the season, was 17-of-34 passing for 160 yards with an interception while being sacked six times. He also had a fumble that led to Clemson’s field goal in the first quarter.

Notre Dame linebacker Drue Tranquill (23) attempts to stop Clemson running back Tavien Feaster (28) from gaining extra yardage on a running play in the second half of the NCAA Cotton Bowl semi-final playoff football game, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

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Notre Dame fans watch play against Clemson late in the second half of the NCAA Cotton Bowl semi-final playoff football game, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25



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