Despite No. 3 Notre Dame's 30–3 loss to No. 2 Clemson in the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said after the game that there was no "overwhelming" difference in talent between the two teams.
"I do not feel like there was an overwhelming difference in terms of talent," Kelly said, according to ESPN. "If we coached better and we made plays that we have been making all year, we would have had a pretty good darn football game going into the fourth quarter."
Kelly cited Clemson's "four big plays," referring to the Tigers' touchdowns, and the loss of Irish cornerback Julian Love in the second half as determining factors in the Tigers' victory. Love left with a head injury but returned in the second half of the game.
Clemson scored three touchdowns in the second quarter, including Tee Higgins's incredible juggling catch on a 19-yard pass from Trevor Lawrence. The quarterback also connected with Justyn Ross on a 52-yard pass and 42-yarder.
"I think Clemson was extremely smart and opportunistic in taking advantage of some things schematically," Kelly said. "They did a great job of pushing the ball vertically in some opportunistic situations."
Notre Dame was subject to criticism for getting demolished by the Tigers, including social media comments from players of No. 5 Georgia and No. 6 Ohio State.
Clemson will play in the national title game on Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, Calif.