ACC commissioner John Swofford said Notre Dame's outcome is not the result of a faulty playoff system. Even when it seemed like Notre Dame was barely hanging on in the middle of the second quarter, backup defensive end Adetonkunbo Ogundeji came up with a sack of Trevor Lawrence on 3rd and 7. Shaun Crawford's injury in the week leading up to the MI plagued Notre Dame's nickel package all season. And Georgia - who was dominated by LSU 36-16 in the regular season - fell to Alabama in the SEC Championship game, while Oklahoma won its conference championship game and only suffered one loss. However, Notre Dame has made a habit of defying the odds so far this season, so they're likely using the underdog status as fuel. The BCS wasn't flawless, which is why the powers-that-be added two more teams to the postseason mix.
Since winning 28-26 at Texas A&M and 27-23 against Syracuse in the first month of the season, Clemson has won its last nine games by an average margin of 37 points. Naturally, Fighting Irish fans are taking this as a good sign. "So I'm sure it'll be a real challenge for us, and I'm sure we'll need to play better than we did today".
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While it's hard to feel any sort of optimism following Saturday's defeat, it's not impossible to look at the program where it is on December 30th, 2018 and where it was on January 8th, 2013 and say that the program is better off. Neither of those two games were big surprises to me.
Alabama (14-0) and Clemson (14-0) will play for the national championship for the third time in four seasons.