Ian Book's prophecy before Drew Pyne, Notre Dame beat Clemson: 'You'll become a legend'
SOUTH BEND — Late Friday night, on the eve of Notre Dame’s convincing takedown of No. 4 Clemson, Drew Pyne’s phone buzzed with a good-luck text message.
It was from the winningest quarterback in Irish program history: Ian Book.
“You’ll become a legend tomorrow,” the note read.
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“I loved it (with the heart emoji) and went to bed,” he said Tuesday night after practice. “So, yeah. That was kind of cool, but I’m more of a team guy. All I want to do is win.”
Book, who finished 30-5 as the Notre Dame starter, went 1-2 against the Tigers. The win came at home in the 47-40 double-overtime epic in 2020, when Pyne was a freshman.
Now 6-1 since replacing the injured Tyler Buchner, Pyne appreciated Book making the effort to be on hand Saturday night. Now backing up Jalen Hurts on the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles, Book had a free weekend after the Eagles played on Thursday night.
“I loved Ian being there,” Pyne said. “It’s kind of comforting knowing that he’s there. He’s a guy that’s done it before — same as me.”
For the moment, the two have an identical winning percentage (.857) as the Notre Dame starter.
Book attended the morning walkthrough and chatted briefly with Pyne before Saturday’s game. The crowd roared when Book, during in-game interview on the stadium Jumbotron, said he wished he could suit up.
Pyne proceeded to finish both halves with 75-yard scoring drives, capping the first with a 5-yard run and sealing the win with a record-setting touchdown pass to Michael Mayer.
“It’s pretty awesome that (Book) was here,” Pyne said. “After the game I hung out with him a little bit. He’s such a great guy. I was able to watch him play and beat Clemson when I was a freshman, and he was able to watch me beat Clemson here. It was pretty cool for both of us to celebrate in our friendship.”
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Another Pyne backer, Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV, had a big Saturday as well, helping the defending national champions knock off top-ranked Tennessee. Pyne doesn’t watch other games on Saturdays ahead of night kickoffs for the Irish, but he saw the highlights of Bennett’s 13-yard touchdown scramble and ensuing celebration.
“I saw him do his little ‘phone call’ thing,” Pyne said. “That was pretty cool. He’s a great competitor. I love him.”
Notre Dame returns to the rankings
Notre Dame (6-3) moved into the College Football Playoff rankings at No. 20 on Tuesday night.
Previously unbeaten Clemson, which fell to No. 10 after its 35-14 loss at Notre Dame Stadium, had been fourth in the initial committee rankings of the season.
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North Carolina (8-1) is five spots ahead of the Irish despite a 45-32 loss against them on Sept. 24 in Chapel Hill.
USC, the only ranked team left on Notre Dame’s schedule, is No. 8 in the CFP rankings. A pair of three-loss teams from the Big 12, Texas and Kansas State, are directly ahead of the Irish.
“Coach (Marcus) Freeman has been saying probably for the past two weeks: ‘We’re the best team no one really knows about yet,’ “ senior safety DJ Brown said. “Just seeing that (come) into fruition really means a lot for this team and the confidence of the guys, just knowing that we can compete and beat pretty handily some of the best teams in the country.”
Clemson became Notre Dame’s third ranked victim of the year, joining then No. 16 BYU and then No. 16 Syracuse. Ohio State, ranked second by the committee, didn’t subdue the Irish until the fourth quarter of a 21-10 home win in the season opener.
“We had confidence going into the (Clemson) game,” Brown said, “but that gave us more confidence that we can beat anybody in the country.”
An unexpected change in Clemson’s punt protection setup provided the opening Notre Dame needed to extend its remarkable streak of blocked punts to four games.
“For whatever reason, they changed middle shields in the game,” special teams coordinator Brian Mason said. “(Freshman Griffin Batt) wasn’t the primary middle shield they’ve used on the season. That probably led to him having some confusion. I don’t know why they decided to make a change in our game.”
Batt, a 6-foot, 220-pound tight end, struggled in that punt-protection role against Florida State. Jordan Botelho, at 6-2 and 250 pounds, overwhelmed the smaller foe and got a hand on the punt that Prince Kollie returned for a 17-yard touchdown.
Mason, who said his punt block crew has affected six other punts in addition to the modern school-record six blocks, noted the Tigers didn’t snap the ball until one second remained on the play clock.
“I think they got a little rushed,” Mason said. “We really didn't have a numbers advantage on that play. Jordan Botelho just beat the middle shield. We did know that Clemson had left air in its shields, and if we had the opportunity, we were going to jump through it.”
Follow Notre Dame football writer Mike Berardino on Twitter @MikeBerardino.