Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book (12)

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Notre Dame QB Ian Book's Season Ends in Letdown

Book threw for 160 yards in a 30-3 national semifinal loss to Clemson.

Nick Shepkowski
December 29, 2018 - 9:58 pm

ARLINGTON, Texas ( -- A year ago, Ian Book came in and saved Notre Dame, leading an improbable comeback victory over LSU in the Capital One Bowl. Four weeks into the 2018 season, the junior quarterback went from second-string to starter and propelled the Irish offense to unexpected heights.

The final Saturday of 2018 went in the opposite direction for Book as Notre Dame (12-1) was blown out by Clemson in the Cotton Bowl, a semifinal game of the College Football Playoff. Book completed 17 of 34 passes for 160 yards with one interception. He hadn’t thrown for fewer than 264 yards in any previous start.

“You see a team like Clemson, you know this is playoff football, and this is what you’re going to get and we know how we have to play to win game like this,” Book said after Notre Dame's 30-3 loss.

Related: Notre Dame Crushed By Clemson, 30-3

Book's day fittingly began with a stalled drive, which included a false-start penalty and a dropped third-down pass. After Notre Dame’s defense forced a quick three-and-out, Book fumbled on a keeper on the first play of the next possession, giving the ball to Clemson just short of midfield.

“We’ve just got to play better," Book said. "But now we know what it’s like and we know what we have to do to win.”

The Irish answered back with a 66-yard drive that finished with their only points of the afternoon by way of a 28-yard Justin Yoon field goal. But yards and sustained drives were few on far between for Notre Dame. Book’s longest pass went for just 23 yards, to Miles Boykin late in the first half.

“We were asking the world of him against that defense and he did some things good, but I think that this game is going to help him out as well,” Boykin said. “I’m sure he’ll tell you that you don’t face many D-lines like that.”

Clemson’s defensive line was indeed as good as advertised, even with likely first-round pick Dexter Lawrence suspended due to a failed drug test. The Tigers brought pressure early and often, finishing with six sacks for a loss of 31 yards. But the regular pressure had an even greater effect on Book.

“I was trying to get through my reads as fast as I could,” Book admitted. “As an offense, we’ve got to do better.” 

It was a banner 2018 for Notre Dame that few, if any, saw coming. But Book’s final game of the season ended much worse than almost anyone anticipated.

Nick Shepkowski is the executive producer of the McNeil & Parkins Show on 670 the Score in afternoon drive. Follow him on Twitter @Shep670.​