A chance to make a statement with a road win over a struggling Clemson team went awry for Notre Dame football on Saturday. The Irish couldn’t seem to claw their way back into the game, falling to the Tigers in upset fashion, 31-23.
And it was especially disappointing because the Irish had plenty of chances and the offense not named Audric Estime just couldn’t get anything going.
With the loss, Notre Dame is now 7-3 and officially out of the playoff race. Again.
This is now the third big game that the Irish have lost this season, following defeats against Louisville and Ohio State. That has raised some questions about the future of this program. Is it being led by the right head coach?
It may still be too early to tell, but the question is fair.
Is Marcus Freeman the right man for the Notre Dame football job?
Let me preface this by saying I really like Marcus Freeman. I think he’s a really good coach. But the questions about his ability to win the big game (outside of a couple of weeks ago against a struggling USC team) are legitimate.
Still, he’s only been a head coach for two full seasons so I’m not going to say he’s not the answer yet, especially since he’s an elite recruiter, but he has to make the expanded playoff next year.
Notre Dame was a top-10 team this season and it improved the most important position on the field but yet it finds itself in a similar position to last year: on the outside of the playoff race, looking in.
Freeman is a good coach and may very well have a long career in South Bend, but he has to prove that next year because three straight disappointing ends to the season usually spell the end of a head coach, especially at Notre Dame.